Posts Tagged ‘PLAYERS’

12th October
2009
written by Downtown Dudette

Here’s another Player Report. The Player Reports are supporting stories detailing how a select few individuals or groups that know how to ‘play the game’ benefit above and beyond our standard business owners. The Players ultimately ruin the system for the rest of us. The Players thrive in our dysfunctional leaderless community. Read The Player opinion in the Inside Tucson Business.

Why did the 4th Avenue underpass run $15 million over budget?  Could it be the costly re-design was to accommodate a player who’s student housing project on the south side of the underpass would benefit greatly by a close walkway to 4th Ave?

Jim Campbell wants to build new housing adjacent to the southern end of the underpass, and was one of the driving forces behind the replacement structure.

“I like the design,” he says. “But I tend to like a rusted look.”

Campbell adds that he believes the dual-underpass approach would have been a “mishmash of two (designs).”

As for what completing the new underpass will accomplish, Campbell says: “It will lead to more likelihood for success in the near future. It will do wonders for that part of downtown.”

While he isn’t quite that enthusiastic, David Slutes is grateful the project is nearing completion. Slutes, the entertainment director at the Hotel Congress, says his business has had a great year, despite the construction.

And you thought a $46m price tag was high. Back in 06′ the Weekly commented on developer Jim Campbell’s pushing for a new underpass which would lead directly to the old Greyhound station property which he now owns.   In three years it went all Campbell’s way. First it gets approved by council then the price doubled allegadly to accommodate a walkway for his student housing.

But the city’s two-tunnel proposal for Fourth Avenue ran into a major snag last year when the sole bidder on the construction job came in with a price 50 percent higher than the $21 million budget (See “The Price Ain’t Right, Oct. 13, 2005). Transportation officials decided to regroup by adopting some cost-cutting measures while also using a “construction management at risk” process which would select a contractor based on qualifications, not price. As a result, they are now negotiating with Sundt Construction Company.

But what project, if any, Sundt will build remains undecided. Campbell, who has the right of first refusal from the city to buy the former Greyhound bus station site near Fourth Avenue, thinks the existing underpass must be replaced.

“The current plan,” he says, “destroys the eastern gateway into downtown by creating pocket parks several feet above street grade which you can’t do anything with.” Campbell says that by revising this long-approved idea, not only would considerably more property in the area be made available for development, but also that the Greyhound site could physically be linked with the nearby Hotel Congress and Rialto Theatre.

While admitting the Greyhound property could still be developed under the current subway plan, Campbell says of the existing concept: “It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

Midtown City Councilmember Nina Trasoff agrees. “There’s very little to recommend (saving) the Fourth Avenue underpass,” she says. “Because of its narrow lanes, it’s very dangerous. Plus, it’s not very attractive, and the rehabilitation could be very expensive.”

Campbell also labels the current Fourth Avenue subway as “a scary mugger tunnel,” but those who use it disagree. A steady stream of pedestrians of all ages walked through the underpass on a recent sunny afternoon. When asked, a half dozen people all concurred with middle-aged, diminutive Anna: “It’s not scary at all,” she declared.

Then from the Star:

Developers held fundraisers for Trasoff, Uhlich

Two developers who are negotiating to acquire $4 million of city property held fundraisers for two City Council members just weeks before a council vote on the deal.

A May 29 fundraiser for Councilwoman Nina Trasoff was sponsored by partners Scott Stiteler and Don Martin, along with another developer, Jim Campbell, who is negotiating his own Downtown deal.

Both Martin and Trasoff, who is seeking re- election this fall, said they didn’t know how much money was raised. Campaign finance reports for that time period are not yet available.

Martin also held a fundraiser for Councilwoman Karin Uhlich on April 16 that raised $550, in addition to the $820 he and his wife had previously given Uhlich’s re-election effort.

Campbell’s agreement, which calls for the city to finance a public parking garage on his property, comes to the council for a final vote on Tuesday.

Stiteler’s and Martin’s development agreement comes up for final approval June 16, and the two previously met with the council last Tuesday, three days after the fundraiser.

The city and developers have been negotiating since December.

The Stiteler/Martin proposal calls for the city to give the developers $4 million worth of city properties in exchange for guarantees they will promptly complete the commercial development of properties they already own and spend $5 million on affordable housing and Downtown community groups.

Campbell needs the city to build a $3 million parking garage on East Congress Street, across from the former Greyhound site, where he plans 104 units for University of Arizona students and more than 46,000 square feet of shops, bars and a gym.

Trasoff, Uhlich and Martin all said the donations were aboveboard, adding that politicians need to raise money in order to compete in and win elections. The Democratic council members said they would never allow a political donation to influence their decisions.

However, opponents of Trasoff and Uhlich blasted the fundraisers.

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12th October
2009
written by Downtown Dudette

Here’s another Player Report. The Player Reports are supporting stories detailing how a select few individuals or groups that know how to ‘play the game’ benefit above and beyond our standard business owners. The Players ultimately ruin the system for the rest of us. The Players thrive in our dysfunctional leaderless community. Read The Player opinion in the Inside Tucson Business.

Another Nina and nepotism link connects directly to her office. Nina’s chief of staff’s wife, Cara Rene is a VP on the Downtown Tucson Partnership. Is there a link between DTP and Nina and the City of Tucson?

The part time VP gig pays upwards of $65k. She may be qualified, she may be perfect for the job but the link is a little more than questionable.

Downtown Tucson Partnership Staff

Economic & Community Development
Glenn Lyons, CEO, 520.837.6507
Cara Rene, Vice President, Community Development, 520.837.6508
Teresa B. Vasquez, Downtown Planner, 520.837.6501

Parkwise is a series of City of Tucson owned parking lots that have been poorly managed if not ignored for years. At one point the Parkwise contract was going out to bid for maintenance, security and cash collections. That RFP never made it to the streets once the Downtown Partnership found a revenue stream that looked pretty attractive. Parkwise is now run by and for the benefit of Tucson Downtown Partnership. From the City of Tucson Parkwise Commission report released this summer:

Cara Rene of Downtown Tucson Partnership presented information on promotions and marketing for ParkWise. She discussed created Parking Tours of Downtown and a new interactive map highlighting all of the parking optionsavailable in the downtown, Main Gate and 4th Avenue areas.

Tags:
11th October
2009
written by Downtown Dudette

Here’s another Player Report. The Player Reports are supporting stories detailing how a select few individuals or groups that know how to ‘play the game’ benefit above and beyond our standard business owners. The Players ultimately ruin the system for the rest of us. The Players thrive in our disfunctional leaderless community. Read The Player opinion in the Inside Tucson Business.

If you serve on the Rio Nuevo oversight board the odds are pretty good that you’re going to end up with some personal benefits not available to the non-player. Case in point, Jeff DiGregorioowner of the Royal Elizabeth Inn and proud owner of $5 million in Rio Nuevo upgrades on Scott Street, a dead end that leads right to his property.

From May 2, 2009 – The Arizona Daily Star’s Rob O’Dell:

Although the board is supposed to oversee the district’s finances, it did not meet for nearly 11 months between September 2007 and July 30, 2008, when it met three days after an Arizona Daily Star investigation revealed for the first time the city had spent $77 million on Rio Nuevo.

DiGregorio said the board wants to meet in closed session to see “what is legally available to us.”

He said, “We want the district board to be as flexible as possible,” adding that included amending the agreement with the city and finding new management for Rio Nuevo at a later date.

Councilwoman Nina Trasoff also said the board is looking at changing the agreement so the board has more flexibility. “This is a very intelligent and deliberate group that is simply looking at options,” she said.

I guess we dropped $5 million on DiGregorio’s slice of heaven. The $5 included an orange griffin, engraved street signs and lighting. Remember, the money used for the street-scape came from Rio Nuevo funds, controlled by DiGregorio, Eckstrom and Ann Marie-Rusell (she snagged a $29m project with a $1 city lease for her MOCA museum).

The griffin, which cost $31,500 to construct, was built using public-art money set aside in the Scott Avenue streetscape budget. The public-art budget was administered by the Tucson Pima Arts Council for the city.
Every penny that was spent on the griffin was spent locally, O’Connell told us.
The streetscape project was financed by Rio Nuevo funds. Money used to improve the street’s water lines came from Tucson Water. Construction of the new streetscape, including the water lines, cost $4.92 million, said project manager Fran LaSala. That doesn’t include design costs.

From the Rio Nuevo districts minutes:

      

   

 

Board Member DiGregorio extended an invitation to everyone to attend the

completion ceremony/celebration of the Scott Avenue infrastructure and

streetscape project on Wednesday, May 20th at 6:30 p.m. It is another successful

Rio Nuevo project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When discussing a Rio Nuevo audit – again from O’Dell at the Arizona Star:

Trasoff said the Rio Nuevo board provides good oversight but needs more visibility. This is no board of pushovers. They are far from a rubber stamp,” she said.
There are two members appointed by Tucson — Anne Marie-Russell, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Jeff DiGregorio, owner of Downtown’s Royal Elizabeth Bed and Breakfast Inn.But a weighted voting system gives them the power to override the two members from South Tucson, former Pima County Supervisor Dan Eckstrom and Roman Soltero, a former City Council member.
The board did not meet for nearly 11 months between September 2007 and July 30, 2008, when it met three days after an Arizona Daily Star investigation revealed for the first time the city had spent $77 million on Rio Nuevo.
A comment from the AZ Star. We’re not sure who wrote it or if it’s correct but worth some discussion:
51. Comment by Joe B. (tucsoncool) — October 3,2009 @ 8:44AM
Ratings:   -1 +17
Maybe its time to start investigating the preferential treatment Jeff DiGregorio, Anne-Marie Russell and the other members of the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Board receive. One hand washes the other.
Just look at the ethically dubious quid pro quo that has gone on so far: Jeff and his partner Chuck own the Royal Elizabeth Bed and Breakfast on Scott Ave., (they wheel and deal even, in part, responsible for bringing Glen Lyons to Tucson) and suddenly almost magically Scott Ave. is the first and so far only street to get a comprehensive and complete redo. Not the major downtown streets like Congress, 6th Broadway or Toole. – within weeks of the completion of this major city investment of millions, guess what, the Royal Elizabeth is on the Market for 1.5 million. Glad these two are invested in heart of downtown for the long run.
“Jeff and Chuck” are nasty power grabbing bullies. In addition to the RNMB,their CV currently includes the Armory Park Neighborhood president, the Iron Horse Neighborhood president and the downtown neighborhood council – what next?
Now lets take a little look Anne Marie. Anne Marie is the executive director ofMOCA. (That’s the Museum of Cotemporary Art) haven’t heard of it? That might be because MOCA is the nomad of Museums moving about every 9 months and producing limited to no programming subsides by the city below market rent. – but lets be honest about it: MOCA is not even accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM). and the little recent programming that has gone on has been highly unethical ignoring national AAM standards for exhibiting borrowed objects. http://www.aam-us.org/museumresources/ethics/borrowb.cfm MOCA invites artists to exhibit work that is for sale, has no curatorial input, and then takes a cut of art sold.
But the city keeps giving MOCA preferential treatment over other non-profits. Why is there no city standard.
With this sort of give back to the committee of 4 !!!!! It is really no wonder Dan Eckstrom (http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/extreme-eckstrom/Content?oid=1069473) is the newest appointee! Hello? This politico has been submerged in scandal and questionable ethics for decades running the City of South Tucson from a corner table at Riggo’s – if you need an update on how South Tucson is doing the Weekly ran a feature this week. (http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/falling-apart/Content?oid=1399765)
 
Tags:
11th October
2009
written by Downtown Dudette

Here’s another Player Report. The Player Reports are supporting stories detailing how a select few individuals or groups that know how to ‘play the game’ benefit above and beyond our standard business owners. The Players ultimately ruin the system for the rest of us. The Players thrive in our dysfunctional leaderless community. Read The Player opinion in the Inside Tucson Business.

MOCA gets sweet heart deal for old fire station. $1 rent for modern art museum.

With a little digging we found that the Tucson Fire Department headquarters has been replaced with a new $29m home of the Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art. I guess you could say our leaders have set their priorities. For those of you that haven’t been to the MOCA – below is a picture from their web site of what you’re in for.  Don’t bring the kids because it might be tough to explain.

Back in 07′ when discussions of moving police and fire headquarters were taking place the Star ran a story hitting that MOCA may be in line:

The prospect of police headquarters moving has never been publicly discussed. But the Museum of Contemporary Art, whose executive director Anne-Marie Russell, has close ties with City Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, is already making a pitch to move in.

It’s about priorities and I guess we know where our city leaders focus is.

Finally, a renderand construction photo of the new Fire Dept. headquarters being built at Cushing and Granada near the convention center. The current headquarters will subsequently be remodeled into a new space for Tucson MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art).


(render: WSM Architects; photo: Benjie Sanders)

About 150 construction workers are building Fire Central
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
03.12.2009

About 150 people are working today to build Fire Central, the Tucson Fire Department’s new headquarters Downtown. That number includes workers for Sundt Construction, the general contractor, and those working for 19 subcontractors, says Sundt spokesman Charlie Boyd. The contract value to Sundt is $29.7 million, he says. The 65,000-square-foot structure, going in on the south side of Cushing Street near Granada Avenue, is scheduled to be finished in September.

The real story is why does MOCA get a sweet heart deal like this? Who’s behind the modern art soon to be hanging in the City owned ex-fire-station? None other than the art crusader on the Councilwoman Nina Trasoff. From Nina’s campaign site:

MOCA has a new home:Once the Tucson Fire Department moves into its new home on Cushing Street later this year, the Museum of Contemporary Art will begin moving into the old Fire Central, bringing another arts organization into the area near the Arizona Theatre Company, the Tucson Children’s Museum, galleries, restaurants and more. I’m proud to have led the way in making this partnership a reality!

The executive director of MOCA, Anne-Marie Russel is also the chairwoman of The Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District. This group works with the city via Shelko to plan ALL of Rio Nuevo’s happenings.  The panel is appointed by Mayor and Council. Trasoff and Leal are on the sub-committee that oversees Rio Nuevo from the Cities side and works with the Mulitpurpose Facilities Dsitrict. From the Tucson Citizen.

The Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District is under the jurisdiction of a four-member board that includes chairwoman Anne-Marie Russell, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art; Jeff DiGregorio, owner of the Royal Elizabeth Bed & Breakfast; Roman Soltero, principal of Tully Elementary Magnet School; and Dan Eckstrom, a former Pima County supervisor

More on Jeff DoGregorio and the Royal Elizabeth’s $5m project later. I guess if you want to get something done with Rio Nuevo joining this board is a pretty good idea.

From the MOCA web site. We aren’t making a value judgement on the merit of the art work. We are making a judgement on the priorities of funding arts over police and fire. I wonder if the old Fire Department Headquarters could have been used a better purpose.

state

Big dicks #1
From Quickening
Jainie Scholnick

A great comment from the AZ Star. Not sure who wrote it but we’ll pass it along:

51. Comment by Joe B. (tucsoncool) — October 3,2009 @ 8:44AM
Ratings:   -1 +17
Maybe its time to start investigating the preferential treatment Jeff DiGregorio, Anne-Marie Russell and the other members of the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Board receive. One hand washes the other.
Just look at the ethically dubious quid pro quo that has gone on so far: Jeff and his partner Chuck own the Royal Elizabeth Bed and Breakfast on Scott Ave., (they wheel and deal even, in part, responsible for bringing Glen Lyons to Tucson) and suddenly almost magically Scott Ave. is the first and so far only street to get a comprehensive and complete redo. Not the major downtown streets like Congress, 6th Broadway or Toole. – within weeks of the completion of this major city investment of millions, guess what, the Royal Elizabeth is on the Market for 1.5 million. Glad these two are invested in heart of downtown for the long run.
“Jeff and Chuck” are nasty power grabbing bullies. In addition to the RNMB,their CV currently includes the Armory Park Neighborhood president, the Iron Horse Neighborhood president and the downtown neighborhood council – what next?
Now lets take a little look Anne Marie. Anne Marie is the executive director ofMOCA. (That’s the Museum of Cotemporary Art) haven’t heard of it? That might be because MOCA is the nomad of Museums moving about every 9 months and producing limited to no programming subsides by the city below market rent. – but lets be honest about it: MOCA is not even accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM). and the little recent programming that has gone on has been highly unethical ignoring national AAM standards for exhibiting borrowed objects. http://www.aam-us.org/museumresources/ethics/borrowb.cfm MOCA invites artists to exhibit work that is for sale, has no curatorial input, and then takes a cut of art sold.
But the city keeps giving MOCA preferential treatment over other non-profits. Why is there no city standard.
With this sort of give back to the committee of 4 !!!!! It is really no wonder Dan Eckstrom (
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/extreme-eckstrom/Content?oid=1069473) is the newest appointee! Hello? This politico has been submerged in scandal and questionable ethics for decades running the City of South Tucson from a corner table at Riggo’s – if you need an update on how South Tucson is doing the Weekly ran a feature this week. (http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/falling-apart/Content?oid=1399765)

11th October
2009
written by Downtown Dudette

Here’s another Player Report. The Player Reports are supporting stories detailing how a select few individuals or groups that know how to ‘play the game’ benefit above and beyond our standard business owners. The Players ultimately ruin the system for the rest of us. The Players thrive in our dysfunctional leaderless community. Read The Player opinion in the Inside Tucson Business.

The Stitler/Martin deal involved trading city owned land for a series on concessions aimed at getting the 4 votes needed to pass the City Council.  Scrappys is blocks away from the development and completely unrelated. WAMO is a long story which we’ll be covering in detail at a later day. From the Tucson Weekly:

In response, Stiteler and Martin walked away from the deal, which would have the developers rehabbing some of their own property (including the Rialto block), passing out some cash to various downtown beneficiaries (including youth-club Skrappy’s and the Warehouse Arts Management Organization) and jumping through a few more hoops. In exchange, they would have received about $4 million in city property, including a former Volvo dealership on Broadway Boulevard east of downtown, and some of the Ronstadt Transit Center property along Congress Street.

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