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Mourning the man who helped revive downtown Tucson

Donovan Durband worked for downtown in formal and informal roles
Durband collage.jpeg
Posted at 7:12 PM, Jun 16, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Downtown has revived into a bustling entertainment district ready to rock on a Friday night but some downtown regulars are mourning the death of a man who helped bring downtown to life.

A lot of what you experience in downtown Tucson now is thanks to a man named Donovan Durband. He died just recently. His friends are mourning the loss but celebrating the legacy.

“It’s almost incomprehensible to me to know that he’s not here on one level…but then on the other, he’s everywhere.”

Margo Susco first met Donovan Durband more than 25 years ago. She had a love for downtown, and a clothing shop on Congress. He had a vision of how to help downtown revive and thrive.

“He was always someone who believed in the sense of neighborhoods, so he was on the street asking questions like What do you need, especially as the director of the downtown Alliance, so he would be in all of the big meetings and working on logistics and working with the city, but then he'd also be walking around and planting flowers and talking with the merchants.”

He had a hand in restoring the Fox Theater, and in Second Saturdays, a regular free event to bring fun and familiarity downtown.

Durband’s last job directed city parking, earlier jobs included leading what’s now the Downtown Tucson Partnership, and serving on the staff of Council Member Steve Kozachik, whose Ward 6 covers Downtown.

Kozachik says, “So Donovan knew everybody and so he was connected and so if, person A had an issue had a particular issue, he would know who to pivot to and say, hey, this person can help with your issue. So he was able to connect all the dots and make sure that when something popped up that he knew who to call, and that's so important in city government because people can get lost in the bureaucracy. “

There have been a lot of players in downtown’s revival, from Rio Nuevo helping buildings and businesses get off the ground, to the people who come and enjoy what downtown has become.

Margo Susco says, “It will stay rolling without him because he set the standard. He touched so many people. His passion for downtown was infectious. So I absolutely believe that he laid the groundwork and now it's up to us to to definitely keep the ball rolling and we will, we will in his honor.

Fox Theater will host a celebration of life for Donovan Durband. It’s at noon, Saturday June 24th.