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Downtown Now Celebrates Downtown's Success and Looks Ahead...

by Eric Swedlund

It’s all happening.

Downtown Tucson is in the midst of an utterly transformative boom, with an ever-growing list of changes, new arrivals and plans for even more.

Celebrating the collective accomplishments – and the $600 million in private investment that’s making it all possible – Downtown Rio Nuevo and the Downtown Tucson Partnership on Thursday hosted Downtown Now, the first State of Downtown event.

Hosted by Rio Nuevo board member Edmund Marquez, the event brought more than 900 guests to the Tucson Convention Center to meet the host of movers and shakers responsible for Downtown’s progress.

Rio Nuevo Board Chair Fletcher McCusker and Downtown Tucson Partnership Chair Randi Dorman introduced the program, with a rapid-fire recitation of the dozens of new businesses, organizations and events that now makeup the beating heart of Tucson’s unique Downtown character.

“Downtown Tucson is on everyone’s radar, nationally and internationally,” said Kathleen Eriksen, new CEO for the Downtown Tucson Partnership. There’s no easy way to summarize the enormous change occurring, so Downtown Now featured 37 speakers, including business owners, community leaders and representatives from an array of organizations that are making exciting strides Downtown.

The impressive collection featured developers of new business and residential projects, organizers of community and cultural events, restaurateurs and more: TCC Arena and Tucson Roadrunners hockey, AC Marriott, Mercado Annex, Marist College, City Park, Chicago Store, Brings Building, the Greyhound terminal, new restaurants and retail and 22 new, in-progress or upcoming residential projects. Other highlights include the arrival of major companies like Caterpillar and Samsung and Tucson’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States.

Speakers also offered teasers about the return to Pizzeria Bianco to downtown and a new Downtown location for Sir Veza’s Taco Garage.

Building on the positive momentum will bring even more great things to Downtown. Rio Nuevo just approved six new projects at its previous meeting and has more in store for its Nov. 15 meeting, McCusker said.