A historic downtown hotel, which has operated for nearly 100 years, is getting new life.

Investors from Nogales, Sonora recently purchased the Arizona Hotel at 35 N. Sixth Avenue and plan a major interior renovation.

“It has a lot of potential and historic value,” said Marcel Dabdoub, the manager of the family-owned investment company. “We’re looking forward to joining others who are investing in downtown Tucson to make it vibrant.”

Specific details on what will become of the 97-year-old building are still being refined, Dabdoub said, but, as part of the renovation, the historic feel and look will be preserved.

Records from the Pima County Recorder’s Office show it was purchased for $1.3 million from Mary Williamson of Sunnyvale, Calif.

Opened in 1917, the Arizona Hotel operated as an inn until 1986, when it had been reduced to a $4-a-night flophouse, Arizona Daily Star archives show. In 1990, it reopened as a residence for the seriously mentally ill, operated by the Southern Arizona Mental Health Center.

Phoenix developers bought it in the 1990s and sold it to Williamson shortly thereafter.

It continued to serve as a hotel, with four to six rooms available for rent, said Tig Collins, who is director of Artfare, an arts organization that has operated in the hotel since 2006.

The hotel was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Documents filed with the National Register show that the original hotel had 36 rooms and six bathrooms and a screened sleeping porch.

“It’s a property that deserves to be saved,” said Fletcher McCusker, a downtown advocate and investor. “We’re all very excited about the purchase.”

The purchase of the Arizona Hotel is the latest investment in historic downtown buildings, where restaurants, apartments and office complexes are filling in, anticipating more foot traffic when the modern streetcar arrives.

“We’re thrilled,” said Michael Keith, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership. “The opportunity to restore another landmark building downtown is just so exciting. It’s another really, really big moment for downtown.”

In June, El Rio Community Health Center announced its purchase of another historic downtown building, the 106-year-old Manning House, which will become its administrative headquarters.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@azstarnet.com or 573-4232.