The Santa Rita Hotel comes crashing down

By Bud Foster - email

The Santa Rita Hotel no longer rises in the downtown Tucson landscape.

Demolition crews began tearing down the nine story hotel to make way for a new Tucson Electric Power corporate headquarters.

The original hotel, built in 1904, was torn down in 1973. While it retained the name of Santa Rita, it could not replace the history and splendor of the original.

With no historical significance to preserve, it was decided demolition was warrented.

Tucson Electric Power looked at several sites for its new headquarters and settled on the Santa Rita site at Broadway and Scott.

But first, the hotel had to come down.

TEP has not established a time line for completion of the new facility.

"We have yet to decide on a design firm," says Joe Salkowski, a spokesperson for TEP. "We don't have final plans for the building yet. We're really looking three to four years out."

A giant claw reached up to the top floor at exactly 10:15 a.m. and began tearing at the hotel's exterior.

Less than a half hour later, large sections of the hotel began to tumble to the earth. It was evident as the pieces fell, that it was not constructed in the same the same as the old hotel might have been a century ago.

Stucco and plaster board filled up the old parking lot below.

Crowds ebbed and flowed as the hours passed. Some former Santa Rita employees came by to see it go.

"I'm kind of happy and kind of sad at the same time," says James Walker, a former engineer there.

He's happy because it can no longer be a home to vagrants but sad to lose the memories.

The demolition crews said they had a two day demolition permit and should be done by Wednesday.