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Redeveloping the Sunshine Mile

Potential tall buildings worry some neighbors
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Posted at 4:55 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 22:35:11-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — This week Tucson City Council will consider what’s the best way to bring new life---and new tax revenue to the part of Broadway that’s been hard hit by the Broadway widening project. Part of the development plan worries neighborhoods nearby.

Broadway from downtown to Country Club is called the Sunshine Mile, actually it's about two miles, but it's a prime area to develop and the City Council is about to rule on precisely how it will develop.

People love the Sunshine Mile for it’s quirky mid-century architecture that dates to the 1950s and 60s. The Rio Nuevo development district has written a plan to give the Sunshine Mile a makeover to update the area and still preserve it’s charm.

The plan divides the area into several districts and subdistricts with different guidelines for each. The plan strives for a mixture of commercial, residential, and low cost residential. In some areas the plan proposes buildings as high as sixteen stories.

You can find the latest version of the plan here: Sunshine Mile Overlay District Document

Gayle Hartmann of the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association worries in her area the plan calls for buildings as tall as six stories overlooking her neighbor’s yards. She says current zoning limits the heights to three stories now.

“And so we thought about this a lot and people really weren't happy with the idea of it going any higher. But we agreed that we would go for four stories. We would accept four stories so we're giving them a story, and their theory of course is that they have to have more height to get people to have parking in their structures or to have affordable housing, and we're just not certain that's true.”

Hartmann says she and her neighbors do worry more development on Broadway could lead to drivers parking cars in adjoining neighborhoods. Rio Nuevo says it’s aware of neighborhood concerns and has conveyed them to the city.

Ward Six Councilmember Steve Kozachik understands Rio Nuevo is sustained by sales tax it collects in areas like the Sunshine Mile---and that’s why it favors greater heights so there’s room for tax generating businesses and places to live.

“I think that the design team would prefer the greater density and the massing, but the design team doesn't have to live there. And so I'm going to side with the neighbors on this one and, and suggest that we keep it moderate, keep it four stories and we'll make up the Delta further to the west.“

Kozachik says there are other parts of the Sunshine Mile where taller buildings would not be as much of a burden on neighborhoods so the higher buildings and higher tax collecting potential should move there.