While the future widening of Broadway has spooked some business owners, one local restauranteur hopes to triple his business by moving into an iconic Tucson space in the heart of the future construction.

Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria will move into the 6,000-square-foot building with the crown-like roofline, built in 1957, at 2635 E. Broadway in the Solot Plaza.

The new location will have a party area and designated bar along The Sunshine Mile, the stretch of Broadway between Euclid Avenue and Country Club Road, considered the gateway to downtown.

Pizzeria owner Rocco DiGrazia has been in business for 21 years, just east of the new location, and said the pending widening is encouraging.

“I’ve been involved with the widening, on the citizens’ task force, and could see what they envision and didn’t see a reason to leave,” he said. “In another town this would be downtown, not a gateway to downtown.”

A recently approved loan by the Rio Nuevo board will give DiGrazia a chance to build his new business and survive the construction.

The board voted to finance the project, which includes a $500,000 loan for renovation, a 25-year lease and a rebate on site-specific sales tax — a tool that Rio Nuevo has used to bring several businesses to downtown and now to the Sunshine Mile.

DiGrazia said he hopes to be in the new space next year.

“I’m projecting to triple my business in three to five years,” he said, noting that his business currently makes about $1.7 million a year. “And, as an anchor to Solot Plaza, I hope to encourage other tenants to move in. I look forward to meeting my new neighbors.”

The widening of Broadway is expected to begin by the end of this year, but a completion date has not been determined.

DiGrazia hopes Tucsonans will go out of their way to patronize the businesses that will be impacted.

“I hope they bear with the construction because it’s going to be a rough go when they start digging up the street,” he said. “Keep us around so we can be there to serve you when it’s done.”

Reporter

Gabriela's newspaper career began at the Tucson Citizen in '86 as the "movie-times girl" where she'd call local theaters for showtimes. Since then, she's written about crime, education, immigration, trade and business. She's been with the Star since 2007.