Local businesses driven out by UA expansion

By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 15, 1996

Gregory Harris
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Zachary's Pizza is one of five businesses in the 100 block of East Sixth Street that will be replaced by a second Environmental Sciences building planned by the University of Arizona.


The UA has extensive plans for the area south of campus along East Sixth Street that will result in the displacement of businesses that have been there for years.

The university plans to add buildings, parking structures and other improvements to the area between North Campbell Avenue and North Park Avenue.

Tom Palliser, owner of Pizza City, 1145 E. Sixth St., said that at the end of meetings between the university and the merchants, the merchants were told that nothing could be done for them right now and that the UA saw merchant negotiations as "the next thing to work on."

The University of Arizona's joint planning process includes members of the City of Tucson, the Rincon Heights Neighborhood Association and the Sixth Street Merchants Association.

Bob Zucker, owner of Entertainment Magazine and Home Delivery Plus, which operates out of a house at 509 N. Santa Rita Ave., behind Pizza City, said, "The UA has sidestepped the commercial area in favor of working with the residential areas first."

"Without such discussion we are lost, and the area is slowly deteriorating," Zucker said. "With no landlord help, it leaves the businesses in limbo."

Palliser said because he thought the UA was going to buy his property, he did not think he would have to advertise for the fall semester.

"I have virtually nothing as far as ads," Palliser said.

"They're doing all they can to see us go out of business," Palliser said, referring to the UA as the "U of K" - the University of Kevorkian.

"All the businesses here are hurting," he said, adding that business is down 25 percent.

Tony Francis, co-owner of Twelve Tribes Records and Sound, 1133 E. Sixth St., said he is not happy with the way the UA is handling the planned development.

"We are very unhappy; we are poor people," Francis said. "You pay your rent. It's survival, nothing more. When they treat you like this, it's just not right."

Dave Ellis, head of the Sixth Street Merchants Association and owner of Zachary's Pizza, 1019 E. Sixth St., said it is getting near the end of the time when the business can remain comfortable at the location, with no word on the future.

"I was in the joint planning process and the merchants were absolutely left out of the resolution," Ellis said. "We were absolutely given nothing; we should have been included."

Ellis also said that over the last three or four years the UA has made no commitments with the merchants, despite talk of big plans for the area.

"We are not asking for them to guarantee that we will stay in business; we are asking for them not to put us out of business," he said. "It doesn't make sense to throw rocks at someone who has machine guns and cannons."

RamĒn Cartaya, owner of Miami Tropical Cafeteria, 1045 E. Sixth St., has been in business at the corner of North Fremont Avenue and Sixth Street for about 11/2 years.

Cartaya said he has not received word as to what will happen to his business or how the proposed relocation to the south side of Sixth Street will happen.

"They're telling me the reality of it (the expansion). They have not lied to me," Cartaya said, adding that he would like to get a more definite answer about the fate of his business.

"Although it affects my business, I consider it to be the right thing. It is for the benefit of the students," he said.

The university plans to develop the south side of Sixth Street with landscaping and other enhancements. It also plans to construct a parking garage, more academic and office space, a 40,000-square-foot addition to the Student Recreation Center, a 50,000-square-foot intercollegiate athletic sports venue with a 4,000-seat capacity and two multi-acre turf-fields for intramural and club sports, according to the UA's own memorandum of understanding.

The university also plans to build another parking garage, and a second Environmental Sciences building along the north side of Sixth Street between North Santa Rita and North Park avenues.

The second Environmental Sciences building is planned for the 1000 block of Sixth Street, a space now occupied by Zachary's Pizza, Sixth Street Pub and Grill, Swim Southwest, Wear It Out and Miami Tropical Cafeteria, said Bruce Wright, assistant to the president of community affairs and economic development.

He also said the 1100 block of Sixth Street, which is home to Twelve Tribes Records and Sound, Salam International Market, Pizza City, Entertainment Magazine and Home Delivery Plus will be the location for a new multi-level parking structure.

Bids from private contractors are being taken for the construction of the second Environmental Sciences building and the parking structure, Wright said.

Wright also said that once the bids are all in and reviewed he will be able to provide area merchants with a specific time frame for when construction begins and the businesses move out.

"We are working on a time frame and plan to meet with the merchants in the next week," Wright said.

He said the merchants will not move from their locations for at least 18 months.

In the February memorandum, "The parties shall work together to promote, with the participation of the Sixth Street Merchants Association, and other affected organizations, a commercial redevelopment project in the vicinity of Sixth Street, with preference for site or sites fronting on Sixth Street."

The memorandum continues, "It is understood that such a project is dependent, among other things, on financial feasibility."

Of the businesses at risk, two are located on UA-owned property: Zachary's Pizza and Sixth Street Pub and Grill. All of the other businesses have enforceable leases, except for Zucker, who operates under a monthly lease agreement.

Seven homes along East Sixth Street also also being removed to make room for a 172-space parking lot.

Wright said the UA would be required under the law to purchase the leases before requiring businesses to move and before demolition could begin.

One plan that is still in the works involves relocating the businesses to the south side of Sixth Street, and Wright said perhaps the businesses could relocate into the space where aplasma center now is.

UA President Manuel Pacheco said in an interview earlier this year that the university is working to keep merchants' interests in mind.

Assistant News Editor Jen Gomez contributed to this report.