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Building Permit Issued for Resort Hotel in Dove Mountain, North of Tucson;
Some Speculate a Ritz Carlton Branded Resort Will Be Part
 of the Golf Resort Community
By Brian J. Pedersen, The Arizona Daily Star, TucsonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sep. 6, 2007 - A building permit was issued two weeks ago for a Ritz-Carlton resort and spa to be built in Dove Mountain, the latest in a series of public signs that the ultra-high-end hotelier is coming to Marana.

And as with all previous signs, the response from Ritz-Carlton has been silence.

Calls made by the Star to Ritz-Carlton's media relations department were not returned, and the president of the developer working on the project continued to refrain from confirming that the hotel is a done deal.

"Ritz-Carlton is our partner, but any formal announcement will have to come from them," said David Mehl of Cottonwood Properties.

Mehl was speaking from an office labeled Dove Mountain Resort Properties that was filled with conceptual drawings and scale models of the proposed hotel. The office is just south of the hotel's expected site.

The building permit, issued on Aug. 20 by the Marana building services department, lists Ritz-Carlton under "brief description of permitted construction." It cost $309,643.10 and was applied for by Dove Mountain Hotel Co. LLC.

Though the permit has been issued, that does not mean construction will start right away, Marana building services director John Huntley said.

"There are a lot of outstanding issues that have to be resolved," Huntley said, noting that the permit allows for construction to begin within 365 days of issuance.

Land has been bladed and cleared at the far end of West Dove Mountain Boulevard, but no structures have gone up. Most of the activity in the area is associated with a new Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that could become the future home of the Accenture Match Play Championship, which was held in February at The Gallery Golf Club in Dove Mountain.

Talk of a Ritz-Carlton in the Tucson area has been around since 1998, when the Oro Valley Town Council approved plans for the resort to be built in Honey Bee Canyon.

Plans for that, as well as a 500-room Hyatt resort in Dove Mountain, developed by Cottonwood Properties, were put on hold after the economy suffered following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and neither project ever got started.

In 2005, though, word surfaced that Cottonwood was in talks with the Ritz-Carlton Co., which is owned by Marriott International, to put the Ritz-Carlton on the site it had originally planned for a Hyatt.

Officials with both Marana and the Northwest Fire/Rescue District have viewed building plans for the project, all of which have been labeled "Ritz-Carlton."

And earlier this year, Tucson Water approved a water main extension, a 290,000-gallon reservoir and a booster station that would serve the proposed 250-room hotel.

There are a lot of outstanding issues that have to be resolved.

--Contact reporter Brian J. Pedersen at bjp@azstarnet.com or call 434-4079.

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To see more of The Arizona Daily Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.azstarnet.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

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