Business owners, developer compromise on plans for new Fourth Avenue apartments

Business owners, developer compromise on plans for new Fourth Avenue apartments
Local business owners are happy to have their voices heard over plans for a new housing complex on Historic Fourth Avenue. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - A seven-story housing complex will soon hover over Historic Fourth Avenue, making it one of the tallest buildings on the block.

The plans for the apartment building, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street, caused concern from many in the area in April of last year.

In the summer, ‘The Flycatcher’ closed it’s doors for good, handing over the space to the developer at the time, EdR. The company was described as, “one of America’s largest owners, developers, and managers of collegiate housing.”

“My parents have had this building since the seventies," said DeeDee Koenen, co-owner of Pop-Cycle Shop, just across the street from where the new complex, named ‘The Union,' will be built.

Rendering for planned housing complex on Fourth Avenue.
Rendering for planned housing complex on Fourth Avenue. (Source: EdR)

After hearing of the development, Koenen teamed up with other local businesses, non-profits and neighborhood associations to form the Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition.

With the help of Local First Arizona, the coalition was able to reach a compromise with the developer, called a ‘community benefits agreement.’

While the agreement is a legal document, it is made voluntary by parties involved. The Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition said it is the first of its kind in the state.

“We wanted to make sure there were benefits for the local businesses, of course, and also for the developer, so we could get into an agreement and that was accomplished," said Michael Peel, a director with Local First AZ.

Koenen said eight things are outlined in the ‘community benefits agreement,’ with the most important to those in the community to keep all new retail space local.

Plans for the housing complex include retail space on the first floor, or street level. This compromise will only allow the developer to rent space to locally-owned and operated businesses. That means no national chains.

“We just don’t want to see a snowball effect where you have one chain move in and it gentrifies the area to where locals can’t afford the rent and you see Mom and Pop’s move out for more commercial spaces.”

Kloenen said another part of the agreement includes funding for sidewalk and street improvements surrounding the development.

“Ideally, we’d like to see the Sixth and Fourth street kind of merge into each other," said Koenen. "If there is going to be development between these two things, we’d like to see a district that is walk-able.”

The complex will include housing and retail space.
The complex will include housing and retail space. (Source: EdR)

Greystar Real Estate Partners, who acquired EdR in September, confirmed the company signed the ‘community benefits agreement’ with the Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition in December.

“We are looking forward to being part of the Historic Fourth Avenue district,” a spokesman wrote in an email.

“We want to make sure that Fourth Avenue stays a local hub for Tucson," said Koenen.

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.