KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," Sunday, 12/5/10, 7:30 AM

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews David Slutes, Entertainment Director, Hotel Congress. Slutes is also active in the Downtown Tucson Partnership and with the 2nd Saturday program. 

Slutes says despite the continued lack of progress by local government and it’s Rio Nuevo project, the private sector is making steady progress at redeveloping Tucson’s downtown urban core.  He says the Hotel Congress “rebirth” began 25 years ago and has led the way for other businesses to start up along East Congress Street.  He says none are “competition,” in that they all have a role in bringing increasing numbers of people to eat, shop and be entertained in the area.  He says when the 4th Avenue underpass was redesigned and reopened it established a commercial “link” between Congress Street and the clubs, shops and restaurants along North 4th Avenue.  He says he has seen a significant increase in University of Arizona students patronizing Congress Street establishments.  He says the foot traffic through the underpass during the evenings is “non-stop.” 

Slutes says the privately-financed "2nd Saturday" effort will continue.  He said businessman Feltcher McKusker contributed the financial support necessary for this monthly promotional effort to set up and promote the entertinment and other activities special for the event.  He says if has drawn thousands of people downtown who see first hand how safe the area is and how easy it is to find a place to park.

Slutes says local government continues to put rezoning roadblocks in the way of private development instead of trying to facilitate it.  He says the new Rio Nuevo board is still trying to get a handle on what’s left of that sales-tax-financed effort.  He says he is not optimistic that the effort would ever deliver the redevelopment downtown that it had put forth ten years ago.