Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rio Nuevo's latest plan: $100M science center

[Source: Tom Beal, Daily Star] -- A $100 million Science Center with planetarium, Imax-style theater, permanent exhibits and space for traveling national exhibits would anchor the cultural plaza of Rio Nuevo under the latest plan sent to the Tucson City Council by City Manager Mike Hein on Thursday. The Science Center would share space with a $30 million Arizona State Museum of anthropology on the east side of the cultural plaza, along the banks of the Santa Cruz River south of West Congress Street. The city would foot the entire $130 million cost. On the west side of the cultural plaza the city would build:

  • An $80 million Arizona History Museum, which would house historical exhibits, the offices of the Arizona Historical Society and an "e-library" with 100-150 computer terminals and some books and other materials. The city would contribute $50 million to those two programs.
  • A $20 million Tucson Children's Museum, with the city footing half the cost.

Hein also asked the council to commit:

  • $102 million for an arena, expansion of the Tucson Convention Center and a convention hotel.
  • $170 million for parking, infrastructure and streetscape improvements Downtown.

The plan was given a unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement Thursday by members of the City Council's Rio Nuevo/Downtown Subcommittee, which includes council members Jose Ibarra, Steve Leal and Nina Trasoff. The full council will review the plan Tuesday. Leal said he was never sure he would be in his seat when Rio Nuevo's musical-chair game stopped. "I'm relieved," he said, "and I'm so excited." Ibarra said he had favored the grander plans for a Science Center but was happy that "we're finally going to bring the U of A to the neighborhood." Interesting the children of Tucson in math and science is the most important aspect of the plan, he said. "All of a sudden it's like it's all coming together," said Trasoff. She added that "it's important to note we're not committing every penny," after Rio Nuevo Director Greg Shelko told the council that about 9 percent of the total remained to be doled out. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]