Info & Data





Download this RFI as a PDF


Update: Deadline for RFI has been extended to April 30.

I. Executive Summary

Through this Request for Interest (RFI), the Downtown Tucson Partnership (DTP), a public-private partnership with the mission of revitalizing and supporting Downtown Tucson, is seeking statements of interest and conceptual development proposals from qualified development teams for the purchase and redevelopment of the landmark Marist College building. The site is located in the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) and the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District (Rio Nuevo).  It is across the street from the Tucson Convention Center (TCC).   It is located on property owned by the St. Augustine Cathedral, a parish of the Diocese of Tucson.  A financing package for the development of this property may be available.

The preferred use of the property is as a 20-room boutique hotel and restaurant, which aligns with the goals and objectives of the City of Tucson, Rio Nuevo District, BID, TCC, the Diocese, and other Downtown Tucson stakeholders.  Other creative uses will also be considered.

Those interested in submitting a response to this RFI should, at a minimum, address the general requirements outlined in Section 7.  Based on a review of the responses, one or more responder(s) may be selected to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with DTP. Responses are due at the DTP  offices no later than 3:00 p.m. Arizona Time on April 30, 2012 and addressed to:

Pamela K. Sutherland, Economic Development Director

Downtown Tucson Partnership

110 East Pennington, Suite 150

Tucson, Arizona 85701

Phone: (520) 837-6508


See additional submittal requirements and instruction in Section VII below.


II. About the Downtown Tucson Partnership

DTP is a non-profit, 501(c)(6) corporation charged with acting as a catalyst for Downtown re-development.  The organization was created in 1998 to implement the services for the Downtown Business Improvement District. These services include enhanced security, maintenance, marketing, festivals and events and economic development.  For more information, please see our website,


III. Project Summary

The City of Tucson and the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) have repeatedly identified Downtown Tucson as key to economic development of the entire region.

Downtown is a dynamic mix of finance, retail, performing arts, museums, sports, entertainment, the convention center, hospitality, professional and government services.  The objective of this project is to enhance Downtown as the hub of the City’s tourism/convention/ entertainment industry and as a livable, 24-hour component of the Central City and downtown core.

The Marist College is a three‑story adobe landmark building in the heart of downtown Tucson.  The elegant structure captures the industrious spirit of 1915 Arizona, a grand and early vision for Tucson’s future. Located across from the Tucson Convention Center, this remarkable building continues to be a beacon of Tucson potential.

The Marist College is constructed in Italianate and Spanish Colonial Revival style.  The Catholic boys’ school was erected on the Tucson Cathedral Campus and part of a three‑building capital project designed by Tucson Bishop Henry Granjon, and built by master adobe mason Manuel Flores.

Its completion, just three years after Arizona statehood (1912), represents the pinnacle of mud adobe construction.    Photographs of early Tucson show the mud adobe tradition of tall one-story residential and commercial buildings.

The few multi-story mud adobe buildings throughout the southwest were limited to mansions, boarding houses, and institutional buildings such as churches and schools.

Catholic‑based educational centers were established near existing churches.   The world‑wide “Marist Brothers,” a Catholic religious order, was founded in France by Saint Marcellin Champagnat in 1817 to focus on educational work.  In 1914, Granjon invited four Marist Brothers from Mexico and Texas to come to Tucson to learn English and study the American educational system.

The Marist brothers established the Tucson’s first non-segregated boys school accepting boarding and day students from elementary grades to the high school sophomore level.  The building continued to operate as a school until the late 1960s.

In 1968, the Marist College building was converted into office space for the Diocese.  At some point in the 1960s-70s, a synthetic stucco covering now known to contain asbestos was applied to the outside of the building.

In 2002 the building was vacated, and without necessary maintenance, it began to deteriorate.

In 2004, the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office determined the building eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  Emergency bracing was installed.

In 2007, Marist College was listed on Arizona’s Most Endangered Places.

In 2011, the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation nominated the building to the National Register of Historic Places and it has been listed on it.

DTP envisions the renovated building as a boutique, 20-room hotel with an active ground floor restaurant that would aid in invigorating the surrounding streets, and strengthen the connection to the TCC and the Downtown area. Other uses will be considered.

The property is zoned C-3 (allows hotels and restaurants) and because it is in an area which the City and associated partners wish to develop, the requirements are flexible (the property is within the Rio Nuevo District and the HUD Empowerment Zone, and the Downtown Infill Incentive District).

Two tours of the property will be scheduled in February and March.  Interested parties will be notified of exact date(s) and time via email. The tour schedule will also be posted on the DTP website.

IV. About the Site

The Marist College is in the heart of everything Downtown.  Across the street is the Tucson Convention Center with shows ranging from West Side Story to Elton John to The Home and Garden Show.   The TCC is a campus containing a large stadium‑style venue, smaller conference rooms, a Music Hall where the Arizona Opera Company performs every season, and the Leo Rich Auditorium, home to the Chamber Orchestras (upcoming shows include the Jerusalem String Quartet, the Morgenstern Piano Trio, and the Takacs String Quartet).

There is no convention center hotel in Downtown Tucson.

Marist College is on the campus of the gorgeous Saint Augustine Cathedral which, with the historic Cathedral Hall and Cathedral Placita, has been transformed through a nearly $2,000,000 renovation project funded entirely through private donations to the Diocese of Tucson.

This active parish hosts hundreds of weddings and quinceaneras annually at the Cathedral.  Marist College is a block north of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and is bounded by some of the best established historic neighborhoods in Tucson – Barrio Viejo, Armory Park, and El Presidio.  Within a few blocks are the historic Fox Theatre and the Rialto, which hosts hundreds of live musical acts every year.

Downtown Tucson hosts several nationally important events that attract thousands of visitors, including the El Tour of Tucson.  Held annually the Saturday before Thanksgiving, El Tour is a fun ride attracting over 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities from throughout the United States and beyond, consisting of novice, intermediate, advanced, and professional riders. Bicycling Magazine calls it “The Best in Cycling this November, Ride with 9,000 friends,
El Tour de Tucson”
 and Outside Magazine (August 2010) deems Tucson “The best road-biking city in the country.”

The Tucson Gem Show, the largest in North America, features 40+ individual shows held throughout the Downtown and Greater Tucson area for two weeks starting in late January and continuing into February.  Nearly 55,000 people attend annually and many hotels are booked a year in advance.

Downtown Tucson hosts monthly Second Saturday events which bring an estimated 145,000 people downtown.  Additional annual festivals such as Dia de los Muertos (and All Souls Parade), the Parade of Lights, Tucson Meet Yourself, and numerous other festivals bring over 500,000 to the Downtown District yearly (see here for complete listings).

The Marist College building is at the center of the multimodal transportation system in Downtown Tucson.  The Modern Streetcar (completion scheduled for 2013) stops within a block from the building.  There is estimated to be over 3500 riders on the Modern Streetcar daily.  Buses connect Downtown to the Greater Tucson area, and there is ample parking both at the TCC and at the private garage located next door to the property.

The Marist College building scores a 95 out of 100 on, “Walker’s Paradise.”  A recent study showed that every one point of walk score resulted in as much as $3000 increase in property value.

V. Financing

The Diocese and the Downtown Tucson Partnership have outlined the following with regard to potential financing of this development:

  • The building and a negotiable amount of additional space (to accommodate parking or
  • for green space) will be sold to the developer awarded this project for a nominal sum, payable to the Historic Preservation department for the City of Tucson for use in maintaining other historic properties
  • Funding may be made available through the City’s CDBG program for use rehabilitating the outside of the building (details regarding the specifics of this are available through the DTP)
  • Listing on the National Register of Historic Places has been obtained for the building, which qualifies the project for 20% tax credit (details regarding the specifics of this are available through the DTP)
  • A preservation easement may be available for the property (details regarding the specifics of this are available through the DTP)
  • Other funding possibilities include the City’s HUD 108 loan guarantee program (~4.5% financing for up to 20 years) and New Markets Tax Credits (available for commercial uses) (details regarding the specifics of these programs are available through the DTP)


VI. Other Requirements

Depending on the public funds invested in the renovation, if any, the developer may also be required by law to contract with contractors paying the Arizona Prevailing Wage Rate and agree to pay all employees a “fair wage.”  Each July 1, the fair wage shall be adjusted.

Preference shall be given to proposals that demonstrate “green” standards.  Energy audits are available through the City.

This is a historic building and, as such, the rehabilitation standards will be as set forth by the Secretary of the Interior.  The City’s Planning and Development Services Department will assist with facilitating the City’s code standards with regard to the Secretary’s requirements, and will assign an omsbudsperson to the winning developer.

VII. Submission Requirements

Developer responses to this RFI will be evaluated by a Selection Advisory Committee composed of

the following members:

Demion Clinco, President, Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation

Albert Elias, Director, Housing and Community Development Department

County Supervisor Richard Elias, District 5 (or his delegate)

The Honorable Raul Grijalva, Congressional District 7 (or his delegate)

Chris Kaselemis, AICP, City of Tucson

Michael Keith, CEO Downtown Tucson Partnership

City Councilor Steve Kozachik, Ward 6 (or his delegate)

Richard Miranda, Tucson City Manager (or his delegate)

City Councilor Regina Romero, Ward 1 (or her delegate)

Ken Scoville, Historian

John Shaheen, Architect, Property and Insurance Director, Diocese of Tucson

The Committee will evaluate the submissions based on the following:

A. Demonstrated experience of the Development team to have successfully developed projects similar to the one proposed.

(1) Identification of Development Team management and structure (Developer, operator and design team)

(2) Examples of relevant work

(3)   Demonstrated ability to rehabilitate an adobe structure as well as a historic building

B.  Preliminary concept plan(s) including approach on how the design meets the goals as outlined in Section III.

(1) If a hotel use is proposed, please list potential approximate number of rooms, quality of hotel, and details regarding any restaurant(s)/bar with the hotel;

(2) If another use is proposed, please list similar detail to that requested for hotel proposals;

(3) With any use proposed, please state architectural design style, connectivity to TCC, Downtown and the rest of the City, how this specific use leads to the creation of a vibrant street experience, preliminary timeline including key milestones, revenue flow including estimated tax flow from use to City.

C.  Capability of the Developer to secure the financing necessary to develop the proposed hotel or other use. This requires demonstrating the credit-worthiness of the principals and/or corporation to secure the level of financing needed for a project of this scale. It does not require a letter of intent or commitment to this project by a financial institution.

(1) Description of ownership and operating model

(2) Conceptual sources and uses

(3) Statement of proposed acquisition process and identification of reason for need of public benefit, if any

D.  Statement of ability to meet the goals and policies articulated throughout this RFI.


VIII.  Submittal Instructions, Requests for Clarification and Changes to the RFI

In an effort to reduce the amount of paper used as part of this RFI, all responses must be submitted by email or on a flash drive. Paper submissions, including fax submissions, will not be considered. Responses should be in either Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) or Microsoft Word (.doc) format and submitted to Pamela Sutherland at the address stated on page 2 of this RFI.  DTP has not set a specified page limit for the responses; however, we expect to receive responses that are thorough, but also concise and to the point without unnecessary content. DTP expects all responders to use their best judgment in this regard.

Questions about any matter contained in this RFI should be emailed to the Economic Development Department of the DTP  no later than ten (10) business days prior to the deadline of this RFI.  All material changes or clarification of any matter contained in this RFI will be published in the form of a written addendum to this RFI posted on DTP’s website.  DTP may make a courtesy effort to notify interested parties that an addendum has been published, but DTP is under no obligation to do so. As such, parties interested in this RFI should refer frequently to the website for information about this RFI. DTP may also provide supplemental information about this project on the DTP website at the stated location.


IX. Reviewing Responses

All complete submittals received prior to the deadline for submissions will be evaluated by a Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) (see members listed above). PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE REGARDING YOUR APPLICATION.  The SAC evaluation will be based on the information submitted pursuant to this request, as well as any related information that DTP may discover in analyzing or verifying information submitted in the response or subsequently requested.

As this is a request for information only, this RFI may lead to one of five outcomes:

  • A request for additional information from one or more RFI respondents.
  • The issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to one or more responders chosen as part of this RFI.
  • The issuance of a RFP is opened to all potential development teams.
  • Direct negotiations for sale and redevelopment of the property through a MOU or DDA with a development team(s) selected as a result of this RFI.
  • Termination of this process without the selection of a development team or issuance of an RFP.

Evaluation of submittals will be completed by May 1, 2012.


X. Terms of this RFI

This RFI is not a request for competitive proposals and is not subject to the Arizona Public Contracting Code. This RFI in no way obligates DTP to enter into a relationship with any entity that responds to this RFI or limits or restricts DTP’s right to enter into a relationship with an entity that does not respond to this RFI. In its sole discretion, DTP may pursue discussions with one or more entities responding to this RFI or none at all. DTP further reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel this RFI at any time for any reason.

Information provided to DTP in response to this RFI will become the property of DTP. If an entity responding to this RFI believes that a specific portion of its response constitutes a “trade secret” under Arizona Public Records Law and is, therefore, exempt from public disclosure, the entity must clearly identify that specific information as a “trade secret.” Identification of information as a “trade secret” does not necessarily mean that the information will be exempt from disclosure. DTP will make that determination based on the nature of the information and the requirements of the Arizona Public Records Law.