By Joe Ferguson
Arizona Daily Star
A Kansas City, Missouri, developer wants to build a 20-story, 250,000-square-foot tower on East Broadway between Scott and Sixth avenues — which would make it the second-tallest building in Tucson.
The city’s newest downtown building could be 300 feet tall, but builder JE Dunn Construction said its plans to develop what is now a half-acre-sized parking lot owned by Pima County will ultimately be decided by market factors. On Tuesday, the Rio Nuevo taxing district signed off on entering formal discussions with JE Dunn for the project, which could be open by 2020.
Todd Freed, a vice president with JE Dunn, told the Rio Nuevo board his company has partnered locally with commercial real estate firm CBRE to identify potential tenants for the project, which has been dubbed 75 Broadway. If built as described, the building would be the second-tallest in Tucson, just below the nearby One South Church tower, which is 23 stories and about 330 feet tall.
While he declined to discuss possible tenants, Freed told the board that he has “very serious leads” from locals looking to sign lease agreements on a 50,000-square-foot space and another 25,000-square-foot space in the tower. Plans for the mixed-use building include ground-floor restaurants and retail shops facing Broadway and a rooftop pool.
Freed said the size of the building could be scaled back if needed, depending on whether the company believes there’s not a market for a bigger structure. He told the board he was optimistic about the need for downtown office/retail space, noting the company is considering adding a basement to the plans to accommodate more retail options. It will also feature a 500-space parking garage.
David Volk, with CBRE’s Tucson office, said 10 floors in 75 Broadway would be dedicated for office space. Current plans call for at least two floors for retail and restaurants and the remaining floors for parking.
He said he expects that larger companies would like the idea of taking over a single floor of the new building, rather than being scattered in several different floors. ”For years, the lack of larger floorplates has kept some of the most desirable corporate users from opening offices in Tucson,” said Volk.
Downtown developers Marcel Dabdoub and Ron Schwabe, who own the other half of the city block facing Congress Street, are expected to partner with JE Dunn on the development. This partnership will not endanger existing buildings on the block, including the vacant spaces once home to the Chicago Store, the Grill and Wig-O-Rama.
“By controlling the entire block, we can create a very unique retail experience,” said Dabdoub, adding there is a possibility of a 450-seat, eight-screen movie theater inside the new building.
In addition to the buildings they own on the Congress side of the block, Dabdoub and Schwabe plan to develop and lease more than 65,000 feet of retail space on the lower floors on 75 Broadway.
The Rio Nuevo board selected the proposal from JE Dunn as part of a public call for proposals to redevelop the parking lot, but agreed Tuesday only to begin formal discussion on the terms of a ground lease.
No tax incentives were disclosed, although Freed said he hoped to work out an agreement with Rio Nuevo in the next 30 days. Any tax incentives offered by Rio Nuevo would be disclosed at the next board meeting.