Arizona Daily Wildcat
Proposal will be decided at Feb. 26 Tucson City Council meeting
The former Christopher City family housing complex could be sold by the university to private developers after 30 years of UA ownership.
The University of Arizona has proposed to the Tucson City Council a plan that would change the zoning, so the property could include a more dense housing facility as well as commercial buildings and office space.
The plan was recommended for approval by the Tucson Planning and Zoning Committee last month after the UA agreed to 40 stipulations for the land's use.
The plan's future will be decided at the Feb. 26 City Council meeting.
"We are seeking to sell the property with a more contemporary zone than it has," said David Duffy, director of campus and facilities planning. "We are trying to make it a more attractive parcel for possible buyers."
The plan would rezone about 59 acres for up to 700 homes and apartments - nearly twice the amount of units the former graduate-student complex had, according to Tucson Planning and Zoning documents.
The plan also proposes to designate 50,000 square feet to businesses and offices.
"We will not have control over what is built on the property if we sell it," Duffy said. "We are just trying to promote a development that encourages a mixed use approach."
According to the documents, the property is composed of two parts. The larger section - about 58.8 acres, north of the Christopher City Wash - is the proposed site for the residential units. The smaller piece - approximately eight acres, south of the wash - is the area proposed for retail and commercial uses.
The process of appealing to the Tucson City Council and trying to sell the property is not definite, Duffy said. Campus and facilities planning is constantly considering other options and making decisions based on new information when they can, he added.
The plan is not popular with surrounding area residents, Duffy said, so the UA had to agree to the stipulations to persuade the Planning and Zoning Committee to recommend approval to the City Council.
Some of the requirements were to install a Sun Tran bus stop and construct a sidewalk along East Fort Lowell Road and North Columbus Boulevard - the intersection where the property is located.
Other city agencies involved in the Planning and Zoning recommendation - such as the Community Planning and Preservation Agency - requested that the new development preserve and enhance the surrounding neighborhood.
If the City Council denies the plan, the UA would consider leasing out the land or a section of it, Duffy said.
Christopher City was closed last year when toxic mold was found on the property and was determined to be a health hazard. The UA has owned the property since 1970.