Sep 14, 2013 1:44 AM by Samantha Ptashkin
TUCSON- It was once a city center that went dead at the end of the business day.
But now record development has transformed downtown Tucson into a hip and bustling place that is very much alive.
Over the last five years downtown has welcomed more than 150 businesses and projects. That includes 34 new restaurants, 27 retail shops, 12 art and cultural projects, 14 offices, nine health and wellness centers, at least nine high-tech businesses or business incubators, eight housing projects, six bars or nightclubs, five bakeries, two coffee shops, two salons, two schools, one craft brewery, one entertainment venue expansion and one hospitality renovation.
In the next year it will welcome 17 more, bringing in an additional $100 million of private investment in 2014. This is in addition to the nearly $600 million of public projects completed in the last five years in downtown and along the streetcar corridor.
"I'm so excited and thrilled to see all the new businesses," Heather Seabry says. "There are just all sorts of exciting things going on."
Instead of streetcar construction, visitors see people out walking their dogs and riding their bikes. "That is my number one thing I'm happiest about, the traffic!" Seabry says.
One of the new businesses includes a trampoline park business from Utah called "Get Air Tucson" at 330 S. Toole. "I think its great! I think once the city is all put back together it will be really nice," says Owner Patti Goodell.
"It's like the new 4th Avenue," Talia Haynes says.
Haynes works for Diablo Burger, which opened a few months ago at 312 E Congress Street. She has lived in Tucson for about five years and says the transformation is incredible. "When I first moved down here downtown was like a ghost town," Haynes says. "There was nothing down here."
Now Haynes is one of about 12,000 people who have a job thanks to downtown development. Construction created an estimated 10,000 jobs and there are at least 2,000 non-construction jobs, mostly in the high-paying tech and innovation industry.
It's a vision that took years to realize, but with more residents and businesses moving in this year, this looks like just the beginning.