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Botanical Gardens will work to buy land for expansion

Fry's says can't donate property Gardens want
Posted at 7:41 PM, Mar 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-08 12:51:19-05

The Tucson Botanical Gardens says if Fry's won't donate the site of a former Fry's store, the Gardens will try to purchase the place.

KGUN9 was first to report the Gardens effort to expand.  Now the Botanical Gardens will have to compete for the land with other potential buyers.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens are lush, green and crying for room to branch out.

Even on a quiet weekday the parking's close to full.

At Grant and Alvernon, the land for the former Fry's right next door could be an opportunity to double the size of the gardens and add new features.

The Gardens asked Fry’s to donate the land, but Fry's spokesperson Pam Giannonatti says it just can't go that far.

"For business reasons we're not able to donate the property, however, we really look forward to working with the Tucson Botanical Gardens as they develop their purchase offer to us."

Fry's also says it can't do anything that would interfere with other businesses in the shopping plaza.
Back at the Gardens, they're looking for ways to cover the cost and compete with other bidders.

Executive Director Michelle Conklin says, “I believe it's just under three million dollars.” 

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “Is that doable?”  

Conklin: “Well it's always doable.  As a non-profit we do fundraising.  We have community supporters.  This would take an effort that would be big, but this is a big, impactful project."
Councilmember Steve Kozachik has been pushing for the expansion as an upgrade for the Grant and Alvernon area and the city.
Gardens patron Marie Turim suggests Fry's donating the land is an investment in priceless goodwill.        

 "Why not be passionately generous and offer it as a wonderful way to go to other Fry's to shop and this way we'll remember you in the nicest way."