The planned new University of Arizona-Downtown building will help revitalization efforts by anchoring a newly renovated property and by drawing students to the area, leaders said Wednesday.

Jan Cervelli, UA architecture dean, sees the new facility as a center for urban design, planning and policy classes for graduate students.

Plans are being made for $400,000 worth of interior improvements and teaching technology installations at the Roy Place Building, 44 N. Stone Ave., which the UA is leasing from Pima County for $1 a year. Work will begin in a month or two. A dedication event is planned for next week.

Between now and the start of classes there in August, the building will be used for exhibits and meetings, Cervelli said.

This is an important development in the downtown revitalization process, said Michael Keith, who leads the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

"This is a beginning exploration of the potential," Cervelli said, with more downtown programs - and housing - in the future if all goes well.

The UA plans to select private partners to develop student apartment projects downtown within a few months.

Planners and others got a glimpse of a few project proposals at an Urban Land Institute workshop Wednesday.

More than 1,000 students could be living downtown in the next two years, Keith said at the event.

With downtown just a mile away from the main UA campus, and with the planned streetcar system to move people, Keith said, "it really is going to be one contiguous district."

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 807-8012.