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Apr 21, 2014 8:26 PM by Matt Fernandez

Rio Nuevo bill signed by Governor Brewer

TUCSON - Rio Nuevo is getting the go ahead to spend money on new projects.

Back in 2010, Rio Nuevo was restricted by state lawmakers from putting money into any projects until a downtown hotel was built.

Friday, Governor Jan brewer signed a bill that lifts Rio Nuevo's hotel spending mandate giving the board freedom to start pursuing other projects.

The Rio Nuevo chairman says the Rio Nuevo District told lawmakers that a hotel to go along with the upgraded convention center was a waste of money, a bad economic decision, and the money should go to other projects.

Rio Nuevo's main focus remains at the Tucson Convention Center. They are putting in big money upgrading the arena investing eight million dollars.

"Total remodel here everything from seats, to sounds, to lights, to concessions, new bathrooms, a new entrance it's the first time that everything has been done in 40 years," said Chairman Fletcher McCusker.

The Rio Nuevo chairman says if the legislation was not passed, the investment would have been around $50 million for the hotel.

Now that legislation is passed they are considering new development options.

Next month the board will meet to discuss future projects.

Chairman Fletcher McCusker says they will look at the possibility of developing on land they own downtown near the Greyhound parking lot.

They also own 85 acres of land just on the other side of the highway near the street car route.

"Kind of mixed development residential, retail, commercial, office, we want to see the things that are developing downtown and continue as you move west,"said McCusker.

Mary Garrison lives near where the future development may be. She lives in senior citizen housing and says she would like to see retail go in.

"We have to go so far right now to go shopping every day, everything is up by the hospital and it would be nice to have something down here to go a little closer and maybe able to walk," said Garrison.

Fletcher say he's hoping upgrades to the Convention Center will be done by December.

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