Rex Ranch development plan gets two-month extension

2013-12-15T00:00:00Z 2013-12-16T09:02:51Z Rex Ranch development plan gets two-month extensionBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The team behind a plan to revitalize the historical Rex Ranch in Amado and turn it into a nonprofit science and art residency has been given an extra two months to raise the money to buy the property.

Save Rex Ranch now has until Feb. 14 to come up with $735,000 to buy the 50-acre property dotted with adobe structures and pay closing costs. Initially, the deadline was in mid-December.

The group has so far raised about $35,000, said Joseph Beyer, who is spearheading the effort

“We got a big-time break,” Beyer said. “It is pretty much the miracle that we were hoping for. It isn’t the dollar amount that came sweeping in and saved us, but it gives us significantly more time to put together an even larger coalition.”

The bank announced the extension late Tuesday after Save Rex Ranch advisory board member Calvin Case convinced them that the project had momentum and broad community support and interest. Case, a Realtor with Tucson’s Tierra Antigua Realty, is the agent for the sale.

“The bank is very much really connected with this idea that Joe has for the ranch. We really have the blessing that they want this to happen,” Case said.

The extension shows the bank is “supporting this idea and feels invested in trying to let us succeed,” Beyer said.

Beyer and his volunteer advisers — musicians, artists, academics, actors, writers and filmmakers from Tucson and throughout the country — want to renovate Rex Ranch’s crumbling adobe structures to create havens for artists, scientists, designers and thinkers. The plan is to establish low-cost to no-cost artistic residencies as early as next summer.

The extension comes in the nick of time. The group was days away from the initial mid-December deadline set by the bank and was nowhere near its goal. The biggest chunk of the money raised so far — just shy of $21,000 as of Friday — came from Save Rex Ranch’s crowd-sourcing campaign through rally.org. Beyer said the group also raised several thousand dollars at a fundraising event early this month and has a handful of checks that won’t be cashed until the group reaches its fundraising goal. Until then, Beyer is underwriting expenses, he said.

“This is going to happen. We are going to find a way, and that’s a huge victory for this power of the crowd,” he said. “This thing started as a change.org petition with six people on it and a Facebook page with 18 people on it. From there, we’ve honestly turned into a little bit of a mini movement.”

Since launching the rally.org campaign in November, the group has recruited several new creative advisors, including Tucson architect Corky Poster, adobe restoration expert David Yubeta and Tucson actor and filmmaker Jon Proudstar, who has developed youth programs for Native American teens and developed the first Native American comic book, “Tribal Force.”

“It’s exactly the kind of thing that I always, always dreamed would happen,” Beyer said. “The tipping point — where this project belongs to a very small group of people, and it now belongs to the community — I think is totally in motion.”

Beyer joked that he buys a lottery ticket as his Plan B, but he secretly hopes a deep-pocketed guardian angel will swoop in and “write the one check for what we need.”

“Stranger things have happened, and I will be working to find that person, furiously, over the next 60 days,” he said.

Proudstar said the idea behind Save Rex Ranch — to be an incubator for great ideas that cross into arts and sciences — is “just solid enough” that he is confident they will raise the money or that the bank will find a way to work with them.

“What a wonderful purpose for that piece of land,” Proudstar said. “That’s what I like about it; all those arts are going to be around each other to influence one another.”

Beyer said he is confident the project will happen.

“We are going to get this done. It is going to happen,” he said. “We’re going to be able to save this historic property — and not only, that, but I am very confident that we are going to be able to create the thing that we’ve been promising, which is a very dynamic, very authentic community center that will give back to people in very tangible ways.”

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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