Student Housing: Tucson moving to allow high-rise housing near UofA, leaving historic homes in shadows

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson is moving quickly to rezone land near the University of Arizona to allow taller buildings, but owners of some historic bungalows complain they’ll be left in the shadows.

Properties in the area targeted by city planners for student high-rises now are limited to four stories. New rules would allow 14-story buildings with pedestrian-friendly streetscapes in a transition zone west of the campus.

The goal is to encourage new projects close to a planned streetcar line, city planning administrator Jim Mazzocco said.

Three developers have plans to construct multi-story housing in the rezoned areas.

But some owners of historic properties tell the Arizona Daily Star ( ) that their small duplexes or bungalows won’t get any sun until midday. They say they’re not against development, but they want more say in what gets built.

“The city of Tucson really needs a shot in the arm and this looks like it,” said Bill Hubbard, a UA professor whose family has owned property in the area since the mid-’70s. “And it’s great that all this money will be invested right next to the university along the light rail.”

However, his bungalows will be “trapped between the enormous traffic volumes on Euclid and Speedway and the enormous buildings,” he said.

Judy Gray owns a small yellow house that would be across an alley from a 12-story building.

Gray, 78, has lived in the 1920s house almost her whole life and has a yard full of plants.

“I look out my window at the eastern sky and that would be gone,” she said. “We probably wouldn’t get any sunlight until noon.”

The affected area is part of the West University Neighborhood Plan, which is being amended to allow taller buildings in a “transition zone” between East Speedway and East Sixth Street, and between North Euclid and North Park avenues.

A Chicago-based developer wants to build a 13- and 14-story apartment complex for 550 students, with 84 parking spaces and retail spaces, on North Tyndall Avenue, city documents show. Another project would put a 14-story student apartment building along First Street, stepping down to 12 stories and six-stories on Speedway.

A third developer wants to build a student apartment complex on Euclid Avenue. The planning commission is willing to allow a four- and six-story complex. The developer planned a complex with stepped heights of six, nine and 11 stories, but it stalled in the city’s rezoning process last year.

The city zoning commission recommended that the City Council approve the plan earlier this month. The City Council will hold a hearing and make a decision on Dec. 13.


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