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Stunning New Loft Graces 44 E. Broadway
by Kai Parmenter
To say that Downtown has experienced a renaissance in recent years would be a huge understatement. Between the installation of the Sun Link Streetcar and a dramatic upsurge in new shops, restaurants, and commercial and residential properties, the heart of the Old Pueblo is booming like never before. First-time visitors and returning residents alike are often shocked (and delighted) by the diverse array of services and activities available, further underscoring what we all know to be true: Downtown has never been better.
Uncovering these exciting new developments in Downtown has become an integral part of the experience, and is always a treat. Such is the case with a new loft project at 44 East Broadway, the renovation of which has close ties to the recent revitalization of Downtown.
When owners Morgan and Pat Fitch purchased the loft in summer 2015, it was merely an empty shell. Their plans for the space involved a high degree of customization, which presented a significant challenge, but also gave them unprecedented freedom to create the home they wanted.
“95 percent of this project is custom,” says Morgan Bojorquez, of Stertz Construction, which handled all management and contracting for the project. “Going from a completely blank shell to all of the custom finishes that make it as cool as it is…you envision it, mull it over a hundred times, think about it, then finally it comes to life.” For Project Manager Dan Boveington, it was the working with the Fitches that made the project such a rewarding experience. “The design came from them. What we had to do was take their vision and make it work,” says Boveington, laughing. “Our job was to listen to their ideas and actually put them into working form.”
The challenges they faced were numerous. In order to install new windows on one wall, they had to cut openings in solid brick. Steel beams, supports and other components and appliances too large for the elevator had to be craned up, which in turn forced them to temporarily close off a residential street below. Many custom pieces, including ventilation ducts for the stove and fireplace, had to be assembled on-site to accommodate the high ceilings.
Finally, after over a year of exhaustive construction and modification, the project has been completed. Spanning two levels, the finished product is a mixture of modern and antique aesthetic, featuring industrial finishes, a stainless steel kitchen, red oak flooring and exposed steel trusses. Better yet, one wall is composed entirely of ten-foot high glass doors offering a stunning panorama of Downtown and South Tucson.
According to Morgan Fitch, 44 East Broadway was originally intended as a series of condominiums when the building was constructed in 1979. However, influenced by the recession, the property was instead used for offices and commercial space. In 2010, Providence Service Corp purchased the 30,000 square foot building, the second floor of which serves as their headquarters in Tucson. Working in collaboration with Peach Properties, whose central office is also located in the building, Providence developed a number of residential lofts on the top floor, including the one now owned by the Morgan and Pat Fitch.
Interestingly, the Fitches weren’t the first couple with designs for the space. The unit sat vacant for several years after completion, then was purchased by a different couple with their own comprehensive plans for a residence. However the couple decided to sell the loft prior to beginning construction. The Fitches purchased the empty unit, along with the previous owners’ plans, which had been approved by the city.
For the Fitches, the decision to purchase the loft was heavily influenced by location. Having moved to Tucson from central Knoxville, Tennessee three years ago, they’d always wanted to live in Downtown, where they’d have easy access to all the restaurants and activities that have popped up in the wake of Downtown’s resurgence. When they discovered the loft at 44 East Broadway was up for sale, they jumped on it.
There was one other important factor that influenced their original decision to move to Tucson: the Fitches are huge fans of the Chicago Cubs, who do their spring training in Mesa. “We were planning a vacation to come and watch the Cubs spring training,” says Morgan Fitch, noting that they decided to stay in Tucson instead of Phoenix. “Within three days we had a contract to buy.”
The Fitches’ primary pursuit now centers on local theatre. The two are codirecting a rendition of “Murder in Green Meadows,” which will run at The Community Playhouse in January. Both are actors. Prior to retiring, Morgan Fitch was a patent attorney, and was also in the financial industry for some seventeen years.