Coalition wants local input on new 4th Ave high-rise

Big projects on fourth avenue in Tucson have some locals raising their voices

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Neighbors and business owners don't want to stop large developments in the works on Fourth Avenue in Tucson, but an alliance of them hopes its unified voice will help shape how the new buildings fit into the historic stretch of shops, restaurants and entertainment.

What was Maloney’s and the Wreck is expected to be a 14-story building with residential and retail space. The Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition would like to see local businesses there instead of national chains. Coalition leaders want Opus Development Company LLC to sign off on a community benefits agreement (CBA).

The group shared a promotional video on social media recently.

The coalition already secured one for the 7-story structure set to be built where Flycatcher used to be. Mike Peel, Southern Arizona Director of Local First AZ and a coalition member said that somewhat set the precedent for how communities can engage with incoming projects.

“It’s not anti-development," he said. "It’s meant to be finding middle ground with residents, local residents here, and the local businesses here and how they can benefit as well.”

The CBA is more than a pledge to consider local businesses, according to Peel. He said they can involve various requirements, but ultimately, they’re meant to keep those community stakeholders involved in the process and make it more transparent. That’s why the coalition will call on the Tucson City Council to postpone a vote on a Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET) for the Opus project in hopes of locking down a CBA.

“We want to ensure that fourth avenue doesn’t lose its central identity," said Peel. "To lose that would be a real, I think, loss for this community that we wouldn’t be able to get back the same way."

While each CBA is unique to the developer and the community in which the project is planned, Peel said the work of this coalition could inspire other areas of southern Arizona to do the same.

“The ripple effect of more dollars in our community invested with the local owners here, local residents here, is significant," he said. "It could be the way forward with creating more opportunity for people who live here.”

Several PR contacts for Opus were contacted for comment on this story. As of 6 p.m. Monday, no responses have been received.

Peel said the coalition’s interaction with developers so far have been receptive.

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.