Fourth Avenue has always been a funky corridor where you could run into just about anyone: aging hippies, woke millennials, hardscrabble artists, rock 'n' roll stars, suits-and-cigars, gutter punks, drunk frat boys and everyone in between. The mix of small businesses—restaurants, galleries, boutiques, salons, coffee houses, bars, head shops and you name it—ensured a melting pot of cultures here in our own little Haight-Ashbury.
So what's the future of Fourth Avenue? Can that vibe survive as downtown evolves? With three major residential towers going up, the area will certainly be changing. Many Fourth Avenue veterans worry that it won't be for the better.
Staff reporter Danyelle Khmara compares the three developments to see how Fourth Avenue's denizens are responding and digs into what the Tucson City Council can do. Spoiler. There's not a ton of leverage outside of offering incentives and hoping developers will buy in.
Change is inevitable—and Fourth Avenue today isn't the same as it was 10 years ago, or 20, or 30. (Heck, The Hut has been sitting in the shadow of that giant tiki head for less than a decade!) But if you don't want to see a bunch of McJackbucks lining the street, I know what my nephew, Michael Peel of Local First Arizona, would tell you: Go down there and buy something whimsical at Pop Cycle, pick up a book at Antigone's, grab a slice at Brooklyn and top it all off with coffee at Café Passe or a beer at The Shanty. That's how those folks are gonna stay in business.
Meanwhile, on South Fourth Avenue, the cavernous space of the former American Meat Co. has been transformed into the American Eat Co. & Market, a food court that plays host of a variety of fun eateries. Food writer Mark Whittaker samples tacos, BBQ, gyros, pizzas, poke bowls, burgers and other delights. Sounds like just the place when your tribe can't come to an agreement about what's for dinner.
There's a lot more in the book, but I only have space to remind you to visit tucsonweekly.com and vote in this year's Best of Tucson competition. All categories are open to nominations from the floor, so as Kanye once said, quit your ruminatin' and start your nominatin'!
See you on the avenue!
— Jim Nintzel Executive Editor
Hear Jim Nintzel talk about what's happening in Tucson entertainment on The Frank Show at 9:30 Wednesday mornings on KLPX, 96.1 FM. Oh, and that's not a real Kanye quote.