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Sam Hughes Place nearing completion

DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sam Hughes Place is still under construction at the corner of North Campbell Avenue and East Sixth Street and will be home to shops and residences.
By Lisa Rich
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
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A three-story condominium and retail building at East Sixth Street and North Campbell Avenue is expected to be completed this semester, developers said.

Sam Hughes Place at the Corner should be ready by Nov. 1, said Jim Horvath, developer and general contractor for Town West Realty.

Neil Petagno, director of marketing for Town West, said the new development will be Tucson's first "mixed-use program" with retail on the bottom floor and housing condominiums on the second and third floors.

Horvath said that when the design was first proposed more than two years ago, it was controversial among community members and the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association (SHNA) because of its primary focus on student housing.

Petagno said the association feared the negative consequences possible in an all-student complex unsupervised by university staff, such as parties or students jumping off second and third floor balconies.

The association serves the neighborhood east of North Campbell Avenue between East Speedway Boulevard and East Sixth Street, including the complex.

"There was conflict with the Sam Hughes Neighborhood - they feel they have enough student housing, and they were concerned with the possibilities that could come with housing with just students," Petagno said.

Petagno said that once the concept of student housing was eliminated, the look changed drastically.

Horvath said people from the neighborhood approached Town West and said they "wanted to see something different."

Since then, architect Raul Reyes and Town West have designed five different plans for the land, eventually compromising on the final project, which will consist of 55 condominiums and 18,000 square feet of retail stores.

"The focal point of the condominiums are fans of the U of A ...We had an eclectic group of all ages and economic backgrounds in mind, including students, parents of students, professors and young professionals," Horvath said.

Horvath said Town West is expecting the complex to appeal to UA students because of its proximity to campus, but the company has not been marketing primarily to the student body.

Instead, Horvath said Town West displayed a sign outside of the complex so that all community members could be aware of condominium and retail availability. Since then, "phones have been ringing off the hook."

Horvath and Petagno said they were able to pick and choose "the right mix" of businesses interested in leasing units of retail space, and Horvath said they chose companies they felt would satisfy both community members and students.

Featured restaurants will include New York Style Pizza, Sam Hughes Place Championship Dining and Sports Bar and The Boba Spot, an extension of Lollicup Asian cuisine from Los Angeles.

UA students can also expect a tanning salon and hair boutique featuring Evita products at the complex.

Horvath said that Town West sells individual units to buyers who can live in the unit themselves or rent to other people. If the owner of a unit wanted to rent his or her condominium to other people, only the owner would have say on rent prices.

Each unit comes with a washer/dryer, high-speed internet connection, data port, closet space, kitchen and living area. The number of bathrooms and bedrooms depends on the type of unit and price. A fitness center is also available for condominium residents.

Petagno said a "Memorandum of Understanding" now exists between SHNA and Town West, which serves as a guideline between the developer and the community.

This understanding includes restrictions against retail stores at Sam Hughes Place - including prohibiting tattoo parlors, game rooms and discos - because of the community's concern for families living above such establishments. The memorandum also entitles the retail owners to play music on the outside decks and carry a liquor license.

Petagno said that at first, the Sam Hughes Place project was controversial among community members for reasons such as construction noise and the elimination of East Seventh Street, which once served as a bike path for nearby residents.

Town West designed a "bike park" in between the condominiums, which will have a bike route, racks and lockers in place of Seventh Street.

Petagno said a lot of the problems with community members had to do with a fear of change. However, Petagno added, "then the community started to see the benefits."

"One woman said she loved the project because it blocks noise from Campbell ... sure there have been complaints over the construction, but it's temporary noise," Horvath said.

The Sam Hughes Place at the Corner has been under construction since March 2004. Horvath said before Town West bought the property from the Arizona state auction, the land was home to the Southern Arizona Mental Health Corporation.

Since then, SAMHC has relocated to North Dodge Boulevard, and the building was torn down for the construction of the new complex.

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