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Botanical Gardens hopes to expand at former Fry's site

Asking Fry's to donate adjacent land
Posted at 7:17 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 21:17:19-05

TUCSON, Ariz - A grocery store, closed and empty could become a beautiful green space at Grant and Alvernon.

Tucson Botanical Gardens is hoping Fry's will donate the land to let the gardens expand.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens are all about growth---the growth of cool green plants in the heat of the desert and like a plant that's really thriving, the Gardens need more space to branch out.

Executive director Michelle Conklin says, “Things are tight every day.  We are constantly fighting for space for cars, for people, for classes, for kids."

Just north of the gardens the scenery changes to the bustle of Alvernon and Grant. A shopping center there could hold the seeds for new life at the Botanical Gardens.

The Fry's Supermarket has closed.  Michelle Conklin is trying to convince Fry's to donate the land to expand the gardens all the way to Grant.

"And then the possibility of what we could do with that space: a one to two-acre family and children's garden."

The Botanical Gardens are such a peaceful place but they are right near a neighborhood that does not have a peaceful reputation.  Grant and Alvernon have been fighting a reputation for drugs and crime and expanding the Gardens could be a positive force here."
City council member Steve Kozachik says neighborhood associations have worked hard to reduce crime around Grant and Alvernon.

"They work with TPD. They work with businesses in the area and they're really knocked that down quite considerably.  This would be an opportunity for the community to see a real  positive amenity to the area that would help in that same direction."

Michelle Conklin says she's encouraged after talking with Frys but the land and building are still for sale and someone else could get the land where the Botanical Gardens hopes to put down new roots.