Rio Nuevo has pushed a downtown hotel project closer to reality.

The board voted 3-2 Monday to approve buying a $4.3 million parking garage for developer Scott Stiteler‘s proposed Marriott hotel at Fifth Avenue and Broadway.

“It’s real,” said Stiteler, manager of Tucson Urban LLC. The vote “was another milestone” in getting a hotel built in downtown Tucson, he said.

Stiteler’s plans call for a 147-room, eight-story hotel behind Hub restaurant.

The agreement doesn’t require any money up front from the Rio Nuevo downtown revitalization district. Instead, Stiteler will build the hotel and, upon completion, the district will buy the four-level, approximately 200-space garage.

To recoup its investment, the district would enter into a 30-year lease with the hotel to rent the garage at $80 a month per space.

In addition to the parking lot revenue, previous estimates showed the district would receive about $10 million in sales and bed taxes from the hotel over 12 years.

Stiteler is also seeking an eight-year property tax exemption from the city and an $8 million loan through the city’s Community Development Loan Fund to complete the financing of the $31 million hotel project.

Stiteler expects to break ground on the project in seven months, with the hotel opening its doors 15 months later.

Although a majority of the board supported the project, not every member agreed it was the best time to dedicate dollars to the project.

Board member Alberto Moore opposed the deal on the grounds that the district shouldn’t be in a hurry to throw money around.

“It seems to me to be a quite complex deal,” Moore said. He said he supports Stiteler’s vision for Tucson, but needed more time to study the nuances of this deal.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or Follow on Twitter @DarrenDaRonco