Rio Nuevo moved another step closer to fixing up the dilapidated Tucson Convention Center.

The board unanimously approved a general contractor on Tuesday to begin the preconstruction process on $4.9 million in repairs to the arena.

Concord General Contracting was awarded the contract for $35,160 to begin planning for renovations to the TCC’s bathrooms, ceilings, concession areas and more.

Concord President John Nyman said his company is “privileged” to work on the project.

“We look at it as being important to the community,” Nyman said . “And we want to do our part to make sure it becomes a success that we all can be proud of.”

However, the board held back on approving Concord for the overall construction contract, although the company finished first in the proposal process.

Chairman Fletcher McCusker said the board will revisit the contract after more is known about the exact costs of the project.

Concord is asking for $257,250 to oversee the entire project.

TCC project manager Elaine Weaver told the board the profit margin request fell within reasonable industry averages.

Once a contract is finalized, Concord would be responsible for any costs that exceeded the budget.

Councilman Steve Kozachik, who sits on the TCC renovation advisory group, said it was important to hire a general contractor now rather than later.

“We’ve got one chance to get this right and begin to earn back the confidence of the community,” Kozachik said. “Hiring on Concord isn’t about just tossing more bodies at the project. ... It’s about having now recruited a good quality team.”

Construction is scheduled to start in March 2014 and last around nine months.

Rio  Nuevo is also replacing floor seats and fixed seats, but those will fall under separate contracts.

Overall, Rio Nuevo will put $7.8 million into TCC renovations.

Arena property

The board unanimously approved taking over the downtown city property near Cushing Street and Granada Avenue where an arena was once planned.

The 8.5-acre property, now the site of the Greyhound Bus depot, was part of the district’s settlement with the city. While Rio Nuevo did accept title to the land, it still must resolve a $1.9 million claim by Peach Properties asserting that the city reneged on a deal awarding the property to the company. The board directed its attorney to enter into talks with Peach .

There are also questions about 137 parking spaces the city currently leases to Parkwise for $35 a month per space.

Board member Mark Irvin said the spaces could generate a consistent income for the district. The board tentatively agreed to consider the issue Nov. 19.

If the board comes up with a development plan for the site, it must give Greyhound a one-year notice that it must relocate. The city is responsible for Greyhound’s relocation costs.

Name change

Some lucky Tucson student could wind up renaming Rio Nuevo and pick up a $1,000 scholarship in the process.

The district approved 4-1 the first phase of a plan to hold a naming contest among high school seniors within the city. Seniors from 13 schools will submit suggested names.

Each City Council member will select one winner from his or her ward who will receive a $500 scholarship.

The Rio Nuevo board will then select the overall winner.

A consultant was hired for up to $1,500 to orchestrate the contest.

NonProfit News Source principal Nancy Montoya said all the high schools are on board with the idea.

The entire contest is expected to cost $6,000.

Official rules are currently being hammered out.

Some board members believe a change might mitigate the negative connotations many Tucsonans associate with current name.

But board member Jeff Hill  isn’t one of them.

“I’m opposed to the whole idea. No matter what our name is, the newspapers are going to refer to it as the former Rio Nuevo anyway,” said Hill, who voted against the measure. “It’s just an exercise in futility.”

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