Plan for Ronstadt Transit Center ready for public scrutiny

$200 million redevelopment deal could forever change face of downtown Tucson
Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 8:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - After five years of negotiations, the agreement to redevelop the Ronstadt Transit Center is ready for public scrutiny.

The 168-page document will be voted on by the Tucson City Council on Thursday, Oct. 10.

"I’ve raised several questions, but don’t see any deal killers,” said Ward 6 City Council member Steve Kozachik, who said he spent the weekend reading it.

The Ronstadt Center is one of the largest, prime redevelopment sites in any downtown in America, 5.7 acres. Since 1991, it’s been an open air transit center in the middle of the city.

Because of the way the buses are scheduled, sometimes riders will need to sit in the elements for a half hour or more.

Now, a group of developers led by CEO Ron Schwabe of Peach Properties, will spend $200 million to redevelop it.

It will include up to 1,000 apartments, retail, commercial, movie theater, parking and at least one hotel. All will rise several stories in the heart of downtown.

“Six stories is the minimum, but we’re hoping to do a lot more vertical than that,” Schwabe said. “This is the downtown core.”

But for all the improvements, there is one thing which can’t be ignored -- the transit component.

Even if the city gives its approval, the Federal Transit Authority must sign off on the development agreement. The FTA, in its requirements, says the transit component must be enhanced.

“We’ve done that many times over,” Schwabe said.

The first phase of the project will be to move transit to a temporary site.

“If you read the agreement, we’re locked in,” he said. “We don’t do any fun stuff until that part’s done.”

If everything goes smoothly from there, construction should begin by the middle of 2021.

“This is really the focal point of downtown,” Kozachik said. “Once we get this, this will be the last major piece of downtown redevelopment.”

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