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Feb. 21, 2013

Plans to Upgrade Tucson Convention Center, Build New Convention Hotel

By Camelia Bulea, Associate Editor

The City of Tucson and the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District have reached an agreement that would bring a new convention center hotel to downtown Tucson.

According to the long-awaited settlement, Rio Nuevo will invest $6 million in upgrading the Tucson Convention Center, a multi-purpose property built in 1971 boasting a 9,275-seat indoor arena, two performing arts venues, and 205,000 square feet of meeting space.

Additionally, Rio Nuevo will invest $1.1 million in the Mission gardens project, and spend $750,000 on downtown streetscape improvements, according to a news release by the Rio Nuevo Board.

The news release also states that Rio Nuevo will be reimbursed over $16 million for the Depot Garage and will be transferred ownership of the Heritage Park property.

As far as the new hotel project is concerned, plans call for a facility with about 500 rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space, said Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, as quoted by the Inside Tucson Business.

In 2009 there were plans for a major Tucson Hotel and Convention Center project, designed by DLR Group, as part of a private-public investment. The project included a 400-foot Sheraton Hotel tower featuring 525 guest rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space, according to Wikipedia.org.

The city of Tucson did not go through with the investment, because the city would have had to assume much of the financial burden to build the $190 million hospitality project, noted the Tucson publication.

Image of the Tucson Convention Center, via www.facebook.com/tucson.ctr

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