The Tucson City Council signed off on a major rezoning that would allow an apartment complex to be built on North Fourth Avenue, replacing Maloney’s Tavern and a nearby warehouse.
Their approval to turn the 1.68-acre site at the southern end of Fourth at Eighth Street and Stevens Avenue on the west into market-rate apartments and ground-level retail came with a number of strings attached.
Property owners, Partners on Fourth Investments, as well as any future owners — would be limited on what types of retail would be permitted. Pawn shops, marijuana dispensaries or anything with a drive-through would be prohibited.
The owners also agreed to give up to $35,000 to the adjacent Iron Horse Neighborhood to use as it sees fit to address traffic issues.
The council added more restrictions Tuesday night, including allowing only a specific type of liquor licenses to be issued — beer and wine only — to any future restaurant.
Councilman Steve Kozachik added that he was concerned about balconies for the units, noting they have become an issue at nearby student housing complexes.
More than 40 residents showed up to the council meeting — with many opposed to the project.
Those who spoke to the council seemed to reject the idea the complex would appeal to a broad portion of Tucson residents, and that it is a thinly veiled attempt to build more housing for college students.
Mark Irvin, a member of the Rio Nuevo redistricting board, told the council he fully supports the proposed redevelopment even though the property is not part of the taxing district.
He argued there was a need for new housing in downtown, saying the influx of jobs in the general area has outstripped the current housing supply, and many people want to live in the downtown area.
Irvin suggested the proposed complex would be a good addition to North Fourth Avenue, which he said is a prominent gateway into downtown.
Former City Councilman Fred Ronstadt attempted to correct Irwin, saying the discussion was not about downtown — but how the two proposed buildings with a minimum 110 feet and maximum 160 feet in height — would impact future development along Fourth.
Ronstadt, the executive director of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, said Fourth is “the soul of the Old Pueblo” and any new development deserves careful consideration.
While the council decision was unanimous, two members did not vote on the proposal.
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild voluntarily excused himself from the vote, noting he is on a nonprofit board with one of the developers. Councilwoman Regina Romero did not attend the meeting.
The proposed project still has a long way to go in terms of development, with a series of regulatory hurdles ahead before developers could conceivably begin construction.
This is the second major apartment project planned on Fourth Avenue just north of downtown.
Developer EdR, based in Memphis, Tennessee, is planning to build a multilevel apartment complex between Sixth and Seventh streets, called The Union on Sixth.
The property is mostly occupied by The Flycatcher bar and music venue.
In that project, the northeast corner would be three stories tall and the southeast corner two stories tall. The tallest part of the development, seven stories, would sit back closer to Fifth Avenue.