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Funding shortage reduces size of Tucson's January 8 Memorial plans

Funding shortage reduces size of Tucson's January 8 Memorial plans

Construction of the January 8th Memorial will move forward but on a reduced scale after private donations fell $1.7 million short of the $4 million fundraising goal.

“The outer walls are shrunk by just a third, but it’s in the same place with the same design elements,” said Crystal Kasnoff, executive director of the January 8th Memorial Foundation.

“That’s about it — reducing size and simplifying systems,” said Marc Salette, the architectural project manager from Chee Salette, based in Glendale, California. “In general, we feel satisfied that we are able to preserve the design and that the foundation was happy with it.”

The memorial will be located on the west side of the Old Pima County Courthouse, in El Presidio Park on West Alameda Street. It is dedicated to the victims and first responders of the 2011 mass shooting that injured former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others and killed six people: Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman. All were attending a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a northwest-side supermarket.

Meanwhile, plans are also moving along to repurpose the former courthouse as Southern Arizona’s Regional Visitor Center. On Tuesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved a pair of lease agreements with Visit Tucson and the University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum, two future tenants.

The Arizona Board of Regents is expected to approve the lease agreement for the museum between the county and the university at its April 5 meeting at the UA.

The mineral museum is currently housed in the basement of Flandrau Planetarium and Science Center on the university campus, “where access, space and visibility is significantly limited,” according to the regents.

Both Visit Tucson and the museum signed 15-year leases for a total of $5.4 million and $6.5 million, respectively.

The university will also invest $4 million in tenant improvements and $5.7 million in exhibits for the gems and minerals, said Robert Smith, vice president for university planning, design and operations. These expenses will be paid for through philanthropy.

Nearly 12,000 square feet of the 20,000 total the UA will occupy is free exhibit space on the first floor. The remaining square footage is lab and storage space.

Currently, mineral museum visits are lumped in with Flandrau admission fees. Rates in the new location are still being determined, said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science.

The Office of Sustainability and Conservation as well as Pima County Attractions and Tourism will also occupy space in the old courthouse.

The Old Pima County Courthouse was built in 1929 and designed by architect Roy Place.

Renovations and reconstruction have been ongoing for two years. The courthouse and memorial are expected to be completed by January 2020.

Contact Mikayla Mace at or (520) 573-4158. On Twitter: @mikaylagram.

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