Neto’s Tucson

Neto's Tucson: Economics don't allow developer to save historic home, he explains

2014-01-19T00:00:00Z 2014-01-20T00:17:18Z Neto's Tucson: Economics don't allow developer to save historic home, he explainsErnesto Portillo Jr. Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

In last week’s column, I wrote about a historical home in the Rincon Heights neighborhood that was threatened with demolition unless it was sold.

It didn’t sell in time. D-Day for the 1897 home is Monday.

Property owner Jarrett Reidhead plans to raze the home at 1300 E. 10th St., just south of the university, and replace it with student housing.

Neighbors, preservationists and city officials had talked to Reidhead, a Marana resident and University of Arizona graduate, to delay the home’s demolition until a buyer would step forward with $400,000.

After the column was published, Councilman Steve Kozachik and Reidhead exchanged several e-mails about the property. Kozachik appealed to Reidhead to change course, in consideration for what’s at stake.

“When you bought the parcel, I believe you had no idea the history that went along with it,” Kozachik wrote.

The councilman asked Reidhead to consider the issues attached to the historical home, its connection to the UA and the neighborhood, adding density and students, and the architectural compatibility of the proposed four two-story eight-bedroom residences.

While Reidhead has spent money on architects and city permits, Kozachik asked him to rethink his plan.

“You own it. You bought a lottery ticket without knowing that the numbers it contained were the ability to preserve a significant part of Tucson’s history, a significant story related to the university, a story that reaches out to significant community leaders who helped to build our city, and at the same time, to make a reasonable profit if your time horizons and immediate expectations can be tempered. Let’s give that a try.”

Reidhead responded that he appreciated the councilman’s attempts to accommodate his Ward 6 constituents and Kozachik’s fairness to Reidhead.

However, Reidhead wrote he should not be viewed as the “a bad guy or that I do not care about Tucson or the UofA area.” He noted that the majority of the neighborhood is made up of rentals, that his property is zoned for higher density and surrounded by an apartment complex, commercial buildings and a two-story rental building.

“If the city is so concerned about preserving historical buildings, then I believe that they should go through and change the zoning code to reflect that so that those buildings cannot be demolished,” Reidhead wrote.

He wrote that he and his investors have borrowed $500,000 and have monthly payments. If he can’t sell the property and recover his costs, he has to go forward with his development.

Kozachik responded that maybe there is a compromise. He suggested Reidhead and the neighborhood association agree on razing the rear building and develop the back but retain the main house. He suggested a meeting to consider changes that “make economic sense” to Reidhead.

The property owner wrote back he still would have $5,000 monthly payments, to which Kozachik responded, “We can get creative, that might work for everybody. I don’t want to cash our chips w/o trying every idea.”

The problem is “timing,” Reidhead wrote back.

Even if he started immediately on creating new plans, securing new city permits and got “everyone on the same page,” the process would take months. In this scenario, Reidhead continued, he would not have time to build and move in residents by Aug. 1 while still making monthly payments.

“Unfortunately, I do not believe there would be anyone willing to pay that expense, and I cannot make the numbers work with that extra $60,000 expense. Unless there is a buyer, then I will need to proceed with my current plans,” wrote Reidhead.

He wrote that his plans are to move the apartments closer to East 10th Street and allow parking at the rear of his complex, as Rincon Heights neighbors had requested. “I hope this shows my good faith in wanting to work with the neighbors where I can,” Reidhead wrote.

He concluded that unless there was a suitable answer, the meeting would not be a good idea.

Kozachik wrote he understood. “I’m not going to drag people out for a pointless meeting.”

Ernesto “Neto” Portillo Jr. is editor of La Estrella de Tucsón. He can be reached at netopjr@azstarnet.com or at 573-4187.

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

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