‘Sunshine Mile’ will become Tucson’s new entertainment hub

The historic bungalows along the western stretch of East Broadway, which leads into downtown Tucson, could soon be bustling with people grabbing a bite to eat, listening to live music or having their dog’s nails trimmed.

The widening of Broadway’s “Sunshine Mile” – between Country Club Road and Euclid Avenue – is coming to an end and the time has come to integrate businesses and attractions into it.

Preserving and reinventing select historic properties along this stretch has been a top priority for the city and the board of Rio Nuevo, whose neighborhood encompasses downtown Broadway, east to the Park Place Mall. .

Rio Nuevo acquired 39 properties, including Solot Plaza, Friedman Block and Bungalow Block on the north side of Broadway.

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Seven of the bungalows were moved 75 feet from the road in 2019 to prevent them from being damaged during the widening of Broadway.

The Bungalow Block sits between Cherry and Warren avenues and is set to become a food court with a cooking school and rotating chefs to showcase the city’s diverse cuisines that earned Tucson the first US city designation. of gastronomy by UNESCO in 2015.

Now further east on Broadway, Rio Nuevo has picked developers for the other two properties.

Developer Larsen-Baker has been selected as the winner for the Solot Plaza – 16 properties between Tucson Boulevard and Treat Avenue.

The Grant Krueger team has been selected to develop the Friedman Block – 16 properties between Tucson Boulevard and Plumer Avenue.

“We are incredibly excited to be selected by Rio Nuevo to try and shake things up on this block,” said Larsen-Baker President Melissa Lal. “Larsen Baker never got into downtown (unfortunately), but the Sunshine Mile has that tangential downtown energy with lots of conveniences like parking and access that we love.”

The plan is to rename the square to “Sol Block” with partners Ambrell Capital and Repp + McLain Design and Construction.

“Our vision for Sol Block is to meet the needs of the neighborhood with 27,000 square feet of small-format retail and service uses…think hair salons, coffee/tea shops, brunches, fitness studios, groomers for dogs, bike shops, florists and jewellers,” Lal said. “All those great local businesses that, along with restaurants and bars, are so important to the ecosystem success of a vibrant shopping area.”

She said a lot of work will need to be done to create sufficient parking and protect historic facades while upgrading building systems and interiors.

“We know of many businesses that want to come back to the Sunshine Mile and expand into this area,” Lal said. “The road widening is beautiful (and) Sunshine Mile is surrounded by some of Tucson’s most iconic neighborhoods – Sam Hughes, El Encanto, Mittman, Colonia Solana.”

Grant Krueger, owner of Union Hospitality Group, is also working with Repp + McLain on the Friedman Block renovation.

“We intend to make a significant investment in real estate and create a mixed-use shopping center worthy of the Sunshine Mile designation,” Krueger said, “with a respect and reverence for mid-century modern design. century of Bernard Friedman, but with an eye to the future.”

His team has developed Union Public House, Reforma Modern Mexican and Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta in St. Philip’s Plaza into a live music and dining center and plans a similar mix of tenants and environment for Broadway.

“Potential tenants include two full-service restaurants/bars with live music operated by Union Hospitality, a cafe/bagel, a tea room, two local shops, an e-bike shop and a pair of fitness concepts,” said Krueger. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to help redevelop this most important stretch of the Sunshine Mile.”

No timeline has been set as developers are beginning to explore the properties’ infrastructure needs and solicit potential tenants.

“Rio Nuevo has never been busier,” said Fletcher McCusker, chairman of the board. “We’ve helped launch more than a dozen new restaurants downtown, all local and many minority or women-owned businesses.

“Having legacy operators like Larsen Baker and Grant Krueger to help reactivate Broadway is more than we could ask for.”

Learn about new restaurants opening in Tucson, as well as developments in the local housing and commercial real estate market.

Contact journalist Gabriela Rico at [email protected]

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