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Planning Commission deadlocks on monastery plan

Plan moves to City Council without recommendation
Posted at 10:43 PM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 00:43:59-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - A beautiful building in midtown led to ugly fights over what to do with it.

Battles over how to use the Benedictine Monastery on Country Club have calmed into a compromise plan to preserve the building and build new apartments around it. Thursday night the Tucson Planning Commission considered the project it could not agree on what to do next.

What to do with this historic monastery has been an issue since the moment we knew it was sold.  Now the Tucson Planning Commission has weighed in on the issue...sort of...
    
The monastery was built in the 1940s with a beauty that seems to reach even farther back in time.
     
The local developer that bought it wants to surround it with upscale apartments but the battle has been how to meet the modern drive to make money without blotting out the old building's soul.
      
Project architect Corky Poster says that means a building to be used, not just looked at.

"So we're proposing and mixed use project not a monastery Museum but rather something that integrates and respects the historic resources but also brings them in conformance with several other community goals."
        
The developer says existing zoning would allow student housing but to respect community concerns the current proposal would surround the building on three sides with upscale apartments ranging from three to five stories tall.  The debate touches what sections would be what height and what size limits would make the project too small to work financially.
          
Neighbors want to preserve the monastery but not change development rules for the neighborhood in a way that would allow large, disruptive projects.
          
Miramonte Neighborhood Association president Linda Dobbyn cited the current neighborhood plan.

"To the extent possible, ensure that scale respects adjacent neighbors.  The proposed scale does not in any way respect the adjacent neighbors."
      
But when the time came to vote, Planning Commissioners could not reach the unanimous vote required to recommend anything to City Council.

Since planning commissioners could not agree on what's best for this monastery now the whole issue moves on to the City Council where councilmembers can make their own decision after they hear the same arguments.