The Tucson City Council got its closest look at the proposed Honors College dorm project the University of Arizona wants to build north of campus.
And for the most part, council members were comfortable with what they saw and were willing to sign off on an agreement Tuesday to give up a portion of North Fremont Avenue to the UA — although there are significant conditions attached.
The section of Fremont between East Mabel and East Drachman streets would be between the planned dorm complex and a recreation center and would be closed to traffic.
In exchange, the UA will attempt to meet various city regulations related to building height, parking, traffic, lights as well as a prohibition on balconies, a pool and rooftop amenities at the residence hall.
One of the city’s main concerns with the project was that the UA, as a state entity, did not have to follow city zoning rules when building the project.
Also, the university has agreed to repave a portion of a North Park Avenue north of East Speedway, reduce the size of the 1,000-bed dorm from six stories to four stories facing the adjacent neighborhood and build storm runoff detention basins to reduce flooding.
The UA will also pay the city $189,000 for vacating part of Fremont Avenue.
However, Councilman Steve Kozachik remained skeptical during the Tuesday afternoon City Council meeting.
Kozachik, a university employee, said he found inconsistencies in the documents presented to the city, noting the university was seeking financing at the Legislature and was using documents with conflicting information.
“They are going to get funding for this project based on a misrepresentation of what the actual project is,” Kozachik said.
University spokesman Chris Sigurdson disagreed, saying the report Kozachik was referring to was not written by university officials but a state staffer.
City officials noted the agreement is largely tentative on the university meeting all of the various standards it has proposed as well as a review of any new binding documents that have not been reached with its commercial partner, American Campus Communities.
The UA still needs the Arizona Board of Regents to approve the project, which is expected next month.
“This does not foreclose additional issues if they are identified,” City Attorney Mike Rankin told the council Tuesday.
The proposed Honors College spans about eight acres between East Adams and East Mabel streets, and between North Park and North Santa Rita avenues. The project would include a residence hall, classroom space, office space, a recreation center, a dining hall and a parking garage.