City considering Hotel Arizona partnership

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Wednesday, the city council will discuss a request by the owner of Hotel Arizona to receive tax incentives for fixing up the property, but some council members are skeptical of the proposed deal.

The owner of Hotel Arizona, Humberto Lopez, recently acquired the colorful La Placita village next door.

With both properties sitting along the future streetcar route and right next to the Tucson convention center, the opportunity for growth is clear, but a partnership with the City of Tucson is not.

"The problem that I've got with it is it's another example of someone cutting a special deal for one person," said Councilman Steve Kozachik.

Council member Steve Kozachik is dismissing a proposal by Lopez, asking the city to provide tax incentives to repair the hotel, in exchange for use of the hotel's garage.

"There is another statute that allows you to abate property taxes if you have what the city would define is a central business district we don't have one of those yet," Kozachik said.

Kozachik says the city needs to first create a system where any private business can apply to partner with the city.

"I think a system would be welcomed by my client," said Ted Hinderaker.

Attorney Ted Hinderaker, representing Lopez and HSL properties, says an application process is fine but his client needs to strike a deal sooner rather than later.

"The hotel in it's current condition probably is not going to continue to operate long term because it doesn't make money and it doesn't provide adequate lodging for guests at the convention center," Hinderaker said.

Some reports claim 70 rooms are uninhabitable.   According to the hotel's general manager, Hotel Arizona has more than 300 rooms and only a couple might be closed for maintenance issues.

"I don't know how many rooms are uninhabitable but I do know that it's impossible right now to get financing to renovate and improve it so the only way that's going to work is to have a partnership with the city," Hinderaker said.

Council member Karin Uhlich Tuesday said she agrees with Kozachik that the city must form an application process for public-private partnerships.