|By Thomas Stauffer, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 4, 2004 - Tucson-based Pathway Developments Inc. is planning to buy the Clarion Santa Rita Hotel & Suites in Downtown and transform it into a $40 million complex consisting of a boutique hotel, condos, retail and restaurant space, and elevated parking.
Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed or finalized, but workers should break ground on the development in 18 months and have it finished three years from now, said Michael Teufel, principal of Pathway Developments.
"We're very excited about the Downtown area," Teufel said.
"I'm a native, and I grew up in Tucson, and I feel like Downtown Tucson has never been as ready to grow and prosper as it is right now." Plans for the complex call for renovating the existing hotel building at 88 E. Broadway and restoring its 1920s charm, while tying it into a new structure of mixed-use residential, retail and parking, Teufel said.
"It'll be a boutique, high-end hotel with 66 rooms, and there will be 148 condos, some of them in the existing hotel building and others in the new building, and 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space," Teufel said. "Then, there is five floors of structured parking, and all of that will be basically appear as one building, though there will be some separation." Cafe Poca Cosa, the Mexican restaurant that has occupied the ground floor of the hotel, is expected to remain on the premises, Teufel said.
"We've been talking to them all along, and they're pretty gung-ho on it," he said.
Suzana Davila, owner-chef of Cafe Poca Cosa, said she was unaware of what plans had been finalized for the complex.
"At this point, I still have a lease until April, but I don't know what's going to happen after that," she said.
Teufel presented plans for the complex to the Tucson Downtown Alliance two weeks ago to rave reviews, said Don Durband, executive director of the alliance, a business group.
"My board was thrilled at what they saw," said Durband. "One of the things I was happy to see is that they're trying to recapture the grandeur of the old Santa Rita Hotel, which was really quite a lovely building at one time and, through renovation and various projects, kind of got taken apart." Retail and restaurant space will face Broadway, with three floors of condos above it, Teufel said.
"Sixth Avenue will appear to be all condos from corner to corner, but actually, the parking garage will be very tastefully blended to the renovation," he said.
Teufel said it was his understanding that the hotel and the restaurant would operate as they always have during the next 18 months.
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