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Downtown Tucson is growing with new development

TUCSON – Downtown Tucson has seen monumental growth in the last 10 years. New buildings are popping up on every corner.

There is another development coming soon. It is an $88 million high-rise hotel.

It will be right behind the Rialto Theatre on the corner of South Fifth Avenue and East Broadway.

Many who News 4 Tucson spoke with say that with more and more new hotels and apartment complexes in the area, it is becoming more like downtown Phoenix. Others said it is a positive change.

Years ago, downtown Tucson looked a whole lot different.

“It was cool because it was a little more wild, but it was also more unsafe,” said Matt Baquet, Tucson Resident. “My mom when I was a young lad trying to come to shows down here, she sometimes had reservations in dropping me off.”

But now there are more than 80 restaurants downtown.

Many residents said they are upset at the growth, saying the culture is changing and becoming more like a big city. But others, like Baquet who was born and raised in Tucson, say the change is a good thing.

“I encourage people just to open their mind to it a little bit and instead of focus on the negative aspect, focus on the positive possibilities and the potential progress and development for the community,” said Baquet.

Real estate developers, Rudy Dabdoub and Scott Stiteler are responsible for a lot of the growth. Some of the places they developed downtown include, The AC Hotel, The Hub, The Playground, Connect Coworking and many more.

Hotel Rendering
16-story hotel development rendering by AXIS/GFA Architecture & Design from San Francisco.

“In Tucson, downtown, in particular, there’s so much culture here and it’s very personal to a lot of people,” said Stiteler. “And we feel the same way.”

They are about to build two brand new hotels in one high-rise building right behind the historic Rialto Theatre. Part of this project includes renovating the 100-year-old theatre, adding a new sound system, bathrooms and much more. They are hoping it will attract better artists and more people.

“Everything outside, the marquee, it stays the way it is,” said Dabdoub. “We’ll be very respectful to the history of the Rialto.”

Construction is set to start late summer and take two years. In those two years, the Rialto will still be hosting shows, just over at the Corbett Warehouse on South Sixth Avenue and East Seventh Street, just east of the Sixth Avenue underpass. The warehouse is also owned by Stiteler, and he and Dabdoub hope that it will breathe new life into that area.

They say there is no plan for the warehouse after the Rialto moves back to its renovated home, but they say if it is successful, they could turn it into something new.

Throughout the process, Dabdoub and Stiteler have worked closely will management at the Rialto to make sure it is a respectful renovation and keeps the history and culture of Tucson alive.

Both Dabdoub and Stiteler say these are positive changes that will really help the economy and make people want to be in downtown Tucson.

The new hotels will be Moxy and Element, which are Marriott brands. They say Moxy will be a more playful brand and Element will be quieter and more relaxing.

Moxy Hotel will have 109 rooms and Element Hotel will have 140 rooms.

The two hotels will share one 16-story building, but will have separate lobbies.

Dabdoub and Stiteler say the AC Hotel has done extremely well in the first year and there is very much a need to add new hotels in the area.

The development will create about 100 jobs.

Kendra Hall

Kendra Hall

Kendra Hall is a reporter for KVOA News 4 Tucson Today.
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