Rio Nuevo picked a winner to enter into negotiations to purchase and develop approximately 8.5 acres of its land, now occupied by the Greyhound Bus Depot — if the redevelopment district goes ahead with the project.

Developer Allan Norville, manager of Nor-Generations, beat out Ron Schwabe of Peach Properties.

Although Norville wins a chance to negotiate with Rio Nuevo, the board still must vote on whether it wants to open up talks or scrap the plan and start over.

It will discuss the matter at its meeting next Tuesday.

Norville’s plan calls for a 140-room hotel, a 96-unit apartment complex and visual arts center, housing three museums — gem and mineral, photography and art — and a theater.

Norville will also build a 120,000-square-foot exhibition hall on his property adjacent to the Rio Nuevo land. Norville’s proposal said construction on the exhibition would break ground in March 2015 if he was the successful bidder.

Schwabe’s proposal also contained plans for a hotel, parking garage and some mix of apartments, office space and restaurants and shops.

Norville offered to pay about $5.6 million to Rio Nuevo for the land purchase.

In May, the district sought bids on the property behind the Tucson Convention Center along Granada Avenue, east of Interstate 10 and north of Cushing Street.

Even though Norville’s proposal edged out Schwabe’s 5,290 points to 5,115 in the initial scoring, board members decided it was too close to settle on a winner, and set up the public interviews and combined the two scores.

After the public interviews, Norville remained on top with a combined score of 9,545 points to Schwabe’s 8,575.

The large point spread was due to board member Alberto Moore scoring Norville a perfect 1,000 points and Schwabe only 70 on the oral interview.

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Last week, prior to scoring the proposals, Moore announced during the meeting that he wanted to see Norville win.

Rio Nuevo’s rules prohibit board members from influencing one another in the middle of a bidding competition.

Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker said their attorneys instructed board members not to talk about the scoring until the next meeting.

Moore declined comment on Monday.

Neither Norville nor Schwabe returned the Star’s phone calls.

But Michael Rusing, an attorney representing Norville, said they were pleased that four of the six board members supported the project and that the project will come to fruition.

Although only three board members scored Norville's public presentation higher than Schwabe's project, board member Jeff Hill, who did not attend the oral interviews, ranked Norville's higher on the initial scoring. 

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