Parking garage could be bad news for businesses

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The UA is now the proud owner of storefront property on East Sixth Street so proud they plan to tear it down.

The 858-square-foot store, at 1022 E. Sixth St., is part of an area near campus where the University of Arizona has proposed building a parking garage. The property, which was appraised at $47,000, was purchased from Mordtka Enterprises, Inc. for $40,000.

The university already owns 75 percent of the property in the area between Sixth Street and Seventh Street, and Park Avenue and Fremont Avenue. A standard parking lot accounts for most of the university's property in the area.

But numerous businesses, including University Plasma Center, Pepper's Pizza and UA Liquors, reside in the area.

According to Arizona Board of Regents information, the university wanted to purchase the property now "in order to avoid significant additional acquisition, relocation and political costs by allowing a commercial retail operation to be established in this storefront."

"We are planning for the future," said Joel Valdez, vice president of business affairs.

The parking garage is currently only in planning stages and construction will probably not begin for "well over a year," Valdez said. The UA has intended to build a garage in that area of campus "for some time," he said.

It has not been determined if the university would need to acquire the remaining occupied space in the area or if the garage could be built around the businesses, Valdez said.

For 17 years, UA Liquors has been in business on the corner of Park Avenue and

Sixth Street and the renter said it is an "excellent location."

"There is no place near campus that would be a better location (for UA Liquors)," said renter Richard Berger, who said his business would suffer if forced to move.

"How I ultimately feel about it (building the garage there) will depend on the compensation I receive from the university," he said.

Berger said he knew the university was considering the location to build a parking garage, but said he has not been asked to sell or leave the property.

For almost as long more than 15 years Fair Wheel Bikes, 1110 E. Sixth St., has also been a neighbor to the university. But they, also, have heard rumors about a parking garage.

"We've heard about it for years," said manager Phil Bryson. "Two or three years ago the university had sent out a 10-year plan and nothing was mentioned about expanding to the south side of Sixth Street. We had hoped we were safe for that long, but it's the only direction the university can travel."

Bryson said forced relocation would be "extremely detrimental" to the business.

"We would have a whole different clientele base; everything about our business would have to change," he said.

The UA is finishing construction on another parking garage at 815 E. Second St., near North Euclid Avenue, which is scheduled to open in mid-February.

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