City adds sections of the Sunshine Mile to Overlay District

Confusion over new sections of Sunshine Mile
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 7:21 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - New sections of roadway are expected to be added to the Sunshine Mile, a 2-mile section of East Broadway Boulevard between Euclid Avenue and Country Club Road, following months of outreach to neighboring businesses and communities.

The action that took place at the city of Tucson’s last meeting in September adds Ward 5 to the years-long revitalization project lead by Rio Nuevo. City leaders said there’s been some confusion because some think this is another construction project and that’s not the case.

According to Keri Silvyn, zoning attorney at Lazarus and Silvyn, the overlay is designed to give property owners more opportunities to offer services that are of interest to the public.

“The sense is along the roadway corridors or the areas where we still need to retain our neighborhoods and our strength in neighborhoods, we also have the opportunity for affordable housing and the opportunity to encourage people to use transit so we don’t need as much parking,” Silvyn said.

City leaders did months’ worth of outreach to neighboring businesses and residents after concerns were voiced regarding an increase in traffic and potential buildings blocking landscape views. The city ended up including stricter building-height limits and distancing restrictions to cater to both groups.

Corky Poster, Ward 5 resident, said he believed the decision was great news because it will bring business and more people to the area.

“Certainly from Tucson Boulevard all the way to Euclid, it has been kind of a ghost town for many many years and this is a chance for it to revitalize and become an important place in our city again,” Poster said.

Andrew Littleton, president of the Sunshine Mile Business Association, said businesses he’s spoken to are torn about the decision. After dealing with construction for years, Littleton said some owners have a hard time “trusting the process.”

“The overlay district, some of the previsions within there do build in requirements for parking that should help with that and that’s one of the benefits,” Littleton said. “But I think that people are wondering what that’s going to look like - to have a widened road and enough parking and pedestrian traffic to sustain business. That’s one of the biggest concerns.”

The new zoning is expected to go into effect by mid-October. When that happens, property owners can take advantage of the overlay district in that stretch between Euclid and Country Club.

“The Overlay District is not a project that is bringing traffic into the neighborhoods,” Silvyn said. “It’s an opportunity for property owners to utilize it. And then there’s an ongoing dialogue and work with the transportation department at the city and the neighborhoods to mitigate if there are some unintended consequences on traffic.”

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