Artists create a colorful construction site on Fourth Avenue

Historic 4th Ave. getting new murals

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Between small shops and local restaurants, construction is underway for a new apartment building on Fourth Avenue in Tucson.

The Flycatcher was cleared last month for the Union on Sixth, a planned seven-story housing complex with retail space. It will be the tallest building in the area.

“Change is coming. Change is inevitable," Frank Powers said.

For weeks, the construction site looked like any other at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street: a cleared lot surrounded by a chain link fence.

That changed on Sunday, Aug. 18.

The Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition, formed by local business, nonprofits and neighborhood associations, hosted “PaintStock," described as “a day of art, love, and Tucson unity” on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

The Chasse Building Team, developers for the new building, partnered with the coalition on the project and provided a BBQ for all the artist and volunteers.

More than 20 artists spent the day painting giant murals on canvases hung over the fences surrounding the construction lot. The artists submitted their designs earlier this year and were chosen by the coalition.

“In most cities, this much open space would just get sold to advertisements," said Pen Macias, who painted a mural with a Monarch butterfly and prickly pear cactus.

“I think that it kind of celebrates what’s best about Fourth Avenue, which is just the culture and arts," Macias said.

The murals weren’t just for the professionals. Two canvases were reserved for kids and a “Thumbs Up Tucson” for the community.

Using only thumbprints, hundreds made their mark on a Tucson sunset. Powers said he watched more than 200 people take part in the painting.

“Granted, it’s not like we see every one of them," Powers said. "But, they are there. It’s made from that, it’s exactly why it’s here.”

The locals who enjoy Fourth Avenue aren’t brushing off change. The folks who call it home understand they can’t stop it, either. For Powers, a little color will help the community cope through construction.

“It doesn’t mean that we have to give up our identity," Powers said. “We’re not trying to hang on to the past. We’re just always trying to keep our present in Tucson the way it should be and that’s with the identity of art, creativity and community."

In June, DeeDee Koenen, the co-owner of PopCycle and a member of the Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition, told KOLD News 13 she was optimistic developers would keep local businesses in mind during demolition and construction, thanks to a Community Benefits Agreement signed in February.

The legally-binding compromise with developers, a first of it’s kind in the state of Arizona, gave community members a say in plans for the new apartment complex.

The CBA, according to Koenen, led to developers agreeing to fill all retail space on the street with local vendors and to put money towards sidewalk and street improvements.

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