by Jim Nintzel
Saying they had only bad options in front of them, the Tucson City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to allow the demolition of a small apartment building so that the owners of Broadway Village could expand their parking lot.
Some residents of the Broadmoor-Broadway Village Neighborhood south of Broadway Village at Country Club Road and Broadway Boulevard opposed the demolition, saying that demolishing the 10-unit Americana Apartments building would counteract infill efforts and reduce their quality of life.
“I beg you to protect to protect our lovely little neighborhood by denying this request,” said Broadmoor-Broadway Village Neighborhood resident Ann Pattison.
But others spoke in favor of the parking lot expansion.
Ari Shapiro, who owns the pizza restaurant Falora and the bar Sidecar at Broadway Village, said that although he is no fan of what he called “car culture,” he nonetheless he supported the additional parking for his customers.
Shapiro said the current parking lot is “woefully insufficient.”
“There is not a night that goes by that we don’t hear from a couple coming down from the Foothills and ‘We circled three times and we were about to leave when we randomly found a parking spot,’” Shapiro told the council. “It is a restriction on the growth of our business. It’s true that I support alternative means of transportation and I wish that everyone took the light rail and the bus. But that’s not the reality.”
The parking situation will likely become even more troubled once a Natural Grocers opens up in the Broadway Village center.
While council members expressed sympathy to the concerns of the neighbors, they said they had little choice but to agree to the demolition of the apartments and a zoning change for the parcel because the owners had said that if they didn’t get approval to build a parking lot, they would knock down the apartments, build a small office building, and use the rest of the space for parking. While that would require more investment than the owners wanted to make, it would still get them most of the additional parking they were seeking.
“If we say no, they are going to expand the parking anyway, and it will be a less appealing project for the neighborhood,” said Kozachik, a Democrat who represent midtown Ward 6.
Councilwoman Karin Uhlich echoed those sentiments.
“This is not about retaining the apartments or the existing character,” said Uhlich, a Democrat who represents north-central Ward 3. “That is not an option in either scenario. Because of that, this is going to be the best result that we can accomplish for this particular parcel.”