Fate of Rio Nuevo hotel may be decided soon

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Discussion Wednesday on the proposed convention center hotel was brief.

But Tucson Deputy City Manager Richard Miranda revealed that significant news about the hotel's future would be decided at the next two City Council meetings, "At the June 8th meeting, those dates would be set for the critical decisions to be made and at the subsequent meeting, possibly on June 15th, the mayor and council will make those decisions."

In other words, after years of discussions and planning, the City Council will give a yay or nay on whether to financially back the bonds for the 525-room Sheraton hotel adjacent to the TCC later this month.

It would then be up to the Rio Nuevo board to decide how they want to proceed from there.

"It took a while to design and to come up with all the numbers and the feasibility studies for a 30 story hotel, that took a while, but we're exactly on target. We knew we'd be here this summer," says Rio Nuevo Board member Jeff DiGregorio.

If they go forward on the nearly $200M hotel, construction would begin in September. Yet some people, including prominent Tucson restaurateur Bob McMahon, spoke out Wednesday against the project, "None of the resorts are doing well. I just don't see that spending this kind of money downtown has any merits whatsoever right now."

Thoughts such as that -- as well as whether the city can afford to build the hotel right now -- will weigh on the minds of the City Council and the Rio Nuevo board these next few weeks.

"This is a big deal. It's the culmination of a lot of work," says DiGregorio.

The Rio Nuevo board also learned Wednesday that a joint meeting with the Tucson City Council was canceled by Mayor Bob Walkup. The mayor said he didn't think the meeting was necessary.