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For more than a decade, downtown Tucson’s Corbett Building has sat vacant, falling victim to break-ins, vandalism and plagued by homelessness.
But a plan unveiled earlier this week to the Rio Nuevo board hopes to breathe new life into the space with a burger joint, a beer garden with outdoor games, five pickleball courts and, down the road in a second and third phase, a 10-story hotel and a 15-story apartment complex.
Developer Scott Stiteler shared his plans for the entire block at 340 N. Sixth Avenue and East Seventh Street, with the goal of completing the first phase this October or November.
The $8 million investment by Stiteler for Phase 1 will feature the 4,000-square-foot Love Burger wrapped with a patio on three sides, and the renovation of what he has dubbed Corbett Lane — the street to the south of the building — with better lighting, landscaping and planters in an effort to create a more inviting environment. The project will have 188 parking spots.
To help launch the first phase, Rio Nuevo agreed to a GPLET lease, a tax rebate of approximately $5 million and a $500,000 cash contribution.
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The hotel, which could be ready by 2026, and the apartment building planned for future phases on the south side of the building are backed by an investment from Stiteler of over $180 million.
“There isn’t anyone with that kind of scale contributing to downtown right now,” said Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker.
The building was once home to the J. Knox Corbett Lumber and Hardware Co., which was founded in 1890, just north of the railroad tracks on Sixth Avenue, according to Arizona Daily Star archives. It operated there for more than 70 years before moving to a location on Speedway in 1963. Two years later, the company closed.
It has been undergoing renovations since last September, Stiteler told the board.
“I can’t wait for the community to come to this building, I can’t wait to bring it back to life,” he said.
Stiteler plans to incorporate the building’s old scoring pattern, custom-made wood windows and a paint color from about 80 years ago.
“This has been a loving rehabilitation of one of the signature buildings in downtown Tucson,” he said.
As far as the future phases are concerned, Stiteler describes the design as “positive massing,” going from a single-story project on Seventh Street to the hotel, which could be eight to 10 stories high and then to the 15-story apartment building with structured parking for 400 vehicles.
Stiteler says that while the future phases are still conceptual, he’s already engaged with Marriott.
As a preview to the Corbett project, Stiteler and his partners opened Little Love Burger, helmed by executive chef Griffin Armstrong. Its handcrafted burgers feature love-themed names including the BarBQutie, with Swiss and cheddar cheeses, smoked bacon, pickled red onion and barbecue sauce; and the All Spiced Up with pepper jack, jalapeno, slaw, black pepper bacon, tomato, spicy ketchup.
Other menu items include chicken sandwiches, a children’s menu and hot dogs, including a Sonoran dog with charred jalapeño aioli and an I Heart NY dog with caramelized onions, spicy brown mustard and kraut.
The space, at 312 E. Congress St., also offers a rotating list of local craft beers and wines on tap, as well as milkshakes made with Hub ice cream.
Restaurants and bars that have opened in the Tucson area in 2022
Ren Bakery and Espresso Bar
4320 N. Campbell Ave., #43
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Baked goods from muffins and danish to scones and cinnamon rolls that are used in Ren Coffeehouse nearby, and of course, espresso.
4426 S. Sixth Ave.
Spicy candies and snacks are on the menu.
Find spicy Gushers and other Mexican-inspired snacks at this food truck and soon-to-open shop
40 E. Congress St.
The Monica opened as an offshoot of El Charro Café. It is named for El Charro’s founder Monica Flin and includes a market along with the restaurant.
New restaurant The Monica, named after El Charro’s founder, is now open downtown
Pacaws Wings & Things
6255 E. Golf Links Road
Opened March 17.
35 E. Toole Ave.
Bata is owned by Tyler Fenton, who, with two siblings, also owns Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink. The menu will consist of foods touched by fire, whether being grilled, charred, flame dried or burned (on purpose).
New restaurant Bata, from the owners of Reilly Pizza, brings a fire-kissed menu to downtown
5955 W. Arizona Pavilions Drive
This Mexican restaurant at 5955 W. Arizona Pavilions Drive is the third location for chef-owner Seth Holzman, which include Guadalajara Grill Mexican, 4901 E. Broadway, and Guadalajara Grill Fiesta, 750 N. Kolb Road. It has the same menu of classic Mexican food.
This long-awaited Mexican restaurant has opened its doors in Marana
Cruda Mariscos & Oyster Bar
31 N. Scott Ave.
Cruda is the newest in a slew of opulent, Mexican-influenced restaurants across Tucson. It was opened by Danny Cordova in the space left when his first downtown venture, La Chingada, moved into the former location of the now-closed restaurant Cafe Poca Cosa.
135 S. Sixth Ave.
The Delta officially opened on New Year’s Day. It is the downtown sister project of local favorite The Parish.
Tucsonans might recognize The Parish as a restaurant that transforms an Oro Valley strip mall into a shot of New Orleans. The Delta will feature the same Southern Hospitality it will be a bar with a grill menu instead of the Parish’s gumbo.
‘Rock star meets Southern belle’: Long-awaited restaurant The Delta is now open downtown
Midtown Vegan Deli and Market
5071 E. Fifth St.
Tanya Barnett started her deli and market out of a desire to make veganism more accessible — for meat eaters and die-hard vegans alike. She asked vegans what ingredients they needed to find and placed them on her first order.
This new restaurant and market aspires to be a one-stop shop for all kinds of vegan food
6872 E. Tanque Verde Road
BoSa Donuts serves more than donuts and coffee. You can get lunch there with sandwiches and other drinks.
The Century Room at Hotel Congress
311 E. Congress St.
Tucson’s only jazz club, The Century Room borderlands jazz club and mezcal tasting lounge, is in the former Copper Hall banquet space at at Hotel Congress.
This new downtown club will serve as a home for jazz in Tucson
994 E. University Blvd.
This lunch to late-night munchies spot has classic and vegan burgers and sandwiches and sides and a considerable dessert menu.
Ni Hao Tea
2800 N. Campbell Ave.
Ni Hao Tea, with this new location, serves Boba tea and smoothies.
5526 E Grant Road
Menu items are inspired by the famous painter couple, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Bun Dock Vietnamese Noodle
3225 N. Swan Road, Suite 111
The restaurant specializes in Vietnamese Bún (Vermicelli Salad Bowls)
Squared Up Pizza
5870 E Broadway
This pizza spot presents Sicilian pies like you get in New York. Their pies are in the traditional Sicilian square, with a thicker base and crunchy crust.
New pizza spot Squared Up brings a slice of Sicily (and New York) to Tucson