Historic Tucson landmark to be restored, provide housing for seniors

Published: Jan. 28, 2016 at 9:19 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 24, 2016 at 8:46 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Big plans are in store for a Tucson landmark that will not only save the building, but also provide housing to low-income seniors.

Marist College was built in 1915 as a Catholic school for boys.

More than 100 years old, the building is falling apart. All of its corners have fallen off, and it is in danger of collapsing.

MOBILE USERS: Check out current photos of Marist College as well as restoration plans for the 100-year-old facility HERE.

On Thursday, the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission voted unanimously to approve two projects.

The decision gives the plans a huge boost toward getting federal funding.

"This project is divided into two separate pieces. There's the rehabilitation of the Marist College, which as you can tell is in really bad shape," said Corky Poster, architect for Poster Frost Mirto.

His architectural firm in Tucson has developed plans for the historic Marist College building.

The firm also has designs on the building a few doors north at 111 South Church, which currently houses the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson administrative offices. The office building will be demolished.

"We'll build a seven-story building that will house 75 one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors. It'll serve seniors over 62 years old and seniors at 40, 50 and 60 percent of median income," Poster said. "And here in the Marist College, there'll be an additional eight units."

The non-profit Foundation for Senior Living is buying the office building from the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson, which has outgrown it.

The foundation will lease the Marist College building for 55 years with an option for another 55 years.

The foundation is also raising the money for the renovation and new construction.

The total cost of the projects will come out to $22 million.

Foundation for Senior Living Real Estate Services Director Stephen Hastings said rent will be $440-650 per month, depending on income.

Hastings said there will be no charge for utilities.

For years, there have been efforts to save Marist College. It is considered the tallest adobe building in Arizona at three stories high.

Poster said it's also one of the top 10 endangered historic buildings in the country.

Rescue cannot come too soon.

Poster said new life as affordable senior housing works for downtown.

"We're looking for a mixed, diverse population that reflects the mix and diversity of Tucson," Poster said. "Seniors certainly want to be where the action is, where the cultural activities are, next to the streetcar transportation.

"Part of downtown is to get it revitalized with a whole variety of different people and different in come levels and different interests. Make it a vibrant city center."

The two projects will be paid for with loans, gr ants and tax credits.

Hastings said the city of Tucson will waive impact fees, which could total $330,000 to 450,000.

He said that's standard for non-profit projects.

If all goes well, Hastings said construction could begin in January 2017.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.