TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Widening Broadway has caused a lot of disruption on the way to making the road ready for more traffic---and it has led to worries about destroying history along the road. But Rio Nuevo is supporting a project on Broadway that blends preservation with a celebrated part of Tucson culture.
The Broadway widening has been hard on businesses. Some have lost land, and lost customers who had a hard time fighting their way through the construction. There’s been concern about lost history as old structures made way for the widening.
But seven historic adobe bungalows on Broadway will have a new life.
The Rio Nuevo development district covered the cost of moving them out of the way so contractors could install underground utilities.
Now they’re back in their original spots, not just preserved but about to add a special touch to Broadway.
Randi Dorman has transformed buildings around the city into unique places to live and work.
Her business partner Moniqua Lane transformed an old motel into the Downtown Hotel Clifton.
Now Rio Nuevo is underwriting their idea to transform the bungalows into a restaurant to showcase Tucson Cuisine---food so full of unique culture that a United Nations agency named Tucson a special City of Gastronomy. Dorman envisions chefs creating special menus here then stepping aside for a new chef.
She says, “Every, four, eight, twelve weeks, we'd like them to plan a whole program, almost like a theater program for the restaurant so we'll have opening night, we'll have a specific menu all focused around our local heritage foods.”
Ward Six Councilmember Steve Kozachik has criticised the overall widening as too wide and too disruptive. But he says when planners reduced the width by 25 feet it allowed projects like the bungalows that preserve part of Tucson, and add something new, that should help attract other businesses..
“If you remember when the RTA (the Regional Transportation Authority) started it was 150 feet wide, and all these bungalows and another hundred or hundred-plus buildings were going to be demolished. So by us, skinnying up the Broadway widening, we were able to preserve these bungalows and create these sort of neighborhood scale commercial developments that really is the tax base that the RTA needs to survive.”
There’s still a lot of work required before the first dinner is served. Dorman says that may be in about a year.