Rio Nuevo is hoping small businesses will move into the midcentury buildings along Broadway Boulevard. The buildings may be historic, but Rio Nuevo Vice Chair Mark Irvin said that doesn’t mean they have curb appeal.
“They all look horrible and they’re not going to look any better until we rehab them,” he said at the district's board meeting Tuesday.
The economic development district voted to spend $54,000 to clean up 45 properties.
The effort will affect two of the district's properties: Solot Plaza, between Tucson Boulevard and Treat Avenue, and the so-called “donut hole” block between Plumer Avenue and Smith Avenue. The block is named for a '60s-era office building with courtyard in its center. Rio Nuevo acquired the properties with the intention of bringing the same revitalization seen downtown to the section of Broadway just east of downtown.
The district plans to remove garbage, do repairs and repaint the street-facing facades in hopes of making the orphaned buildings more attractive to business.
So far, Rio Nuevo has had one success. Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza will move into a former lock shop due for repair.
Board member Chris Sheafe said he’s interested in promoting taller and denser development along Broadway, also known as the Sunshine Mile.
“The only way that you can support a lot of retail is have residential walkable to the retail,” he said.
Broadway is scheduled to be widened as part of the voter-approved Regional Transportation Authority plan. Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of the year.
Rio Nuevo will also move seven bungalows next month to prevent them from being demolished during the project.
“This is a very simple move,” said Michael Becherer, an architect with Swaim Associates, which is overseeing the project. “We’re simply moving the buildings straight back and then bringing them back forward to set them down on their foundations.”