FOX TUCSON THEATRE “THE FUTURE IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER”
EXPANSION PROJECT TAKES A MAJOR STEP FORWARD
Jan. 2, 2023
Tucson, AZ – The Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation is pleased to announce the successful closing of two significant real estate transactions. The transactions mark a major step forward in realizing a bold vision for a potentially transformative redevelopment of the corner of Congress Street and Stone Avenue.
As part of a larger expansion plan, late last week the Foundation closed on the purchase of the historic Fox Tucson Theatre at 17 W Congress from Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment and revitalization district, along with the Arizona Star Building at 30 N Church Avenue (the organization’s administrative offices), and a strip of property connecting the two buildings (the theatre’s loading dock). On Wednesday, 12/28, the Foundation subsequently closed on the purchase of the properties along Stone Avenue immediately adjacent to the historic theatre. The new acquisitions include 1 W. Congress (the now unoccupied, former Bruegger’s Bagels downtown location) and 13, 17, 25 and 27 N Stone Avenue (three empty storefronts and the current location of Rae’s Place Downtown Market), connecting Congress north along Stone Avenue to the Bank of America building.
At its December 7 meeting following a year of planning and research, the Fox Board of Directors unanimously approved moving forward with the property purchases. At the same meeting, the Board authorized launch of the quiet phase of a capital campaign aimed at raising an initial project budget estimate of roughly $21 million over a 3 – 5-year campaign. The immediate funding goal is focused on meeting a generous two-million-dollar matching pledge challenge offered by Rio Nuevo. The Board has engaged Alexander|Carrillo Consulting to lead the quiet phase of the capital campaign, expected to unfold over the next 12 – 15 months. Long-time Tucson fundraising experts Laura Alexander and Phoebe Chalk-Wadsworth bring decades of experience to the project and will work closely alongside Fox Board and staff.
“We’ve set forth a bold vision,” said Fox Board President Brent Davis, “one that we believe will secure the legacy of the Crown Jewel of Tucson as not only an iconic, historic building; but, also as an enduring, flagship arts organization at the heart of downtown Tucson.” With this plan, the Fox will be capable of better serving the needs of current audiences as well as the generations to come with greater artistic program diversity, next level patron services, dynamic food and beverage experiences, and much more; all in ways that complement and extend what the Tucson community loves about the irreplaceable historic treasure.
“The opportunity to purchase these adjacent properties presented a once-in-a-lifetime, seize-the-day moment to invest in the long-term future and ultimate sustainability of the Fox,” said Fox Board Expansion Committee Chair Nancy March. “We were thrilled to receive such an enthusiastic response from so many when the initial concept was presented in October.”
Since then, the Fox Board and staff leadership have been focused on finalizing this pivotal property acquisition phase. With the properties now acquired, the project can move ahead with next steps. Immediate project priorities include active fundraising, ongoing work with stakeholders to refine program use plans, advancing the preliminary conceptual renderings into more concrete stages of design development, and additional reviews, input, and a recommendation for approval of the design by the Tucson/Pima County Historic Commission.
Executive Director Bonnie Schock noted “The number one priority in our Board’s guidance for the architectural process is preservation of the historic Fox. Next, it is a seamless incorporation of appropriate, complimentary visual elements into the new, adjacent spaces that will honor and extend the sense of elegance, sophistication, and the uniquely Southwestern-Deco flair that characterizes the experience of walking into the historic auditorium. There is much to do, and so much excitement to really get to work together on this next chapter in the beautiful story of our beloved Fox! While exact timelines are nearly impossible to predict on a project of this scope and complexity,” said Schock, “we look forward to bringing this vision to life for Tucson over the next 3 – 5 years. We owe it to the Fox to continue to reinvest in her enduring future.”
Tucson, AZ — Today leadership of the Fox Tucson Theatre presented concepts to the Rio Nuevo Board for a proposed expansion of the Fox on the properties immediately adjacent to the historic Tucson landmark. Presenters shared a vision for development on the corner of Stone Avenue and Congress Street with the goal of transforming the intersection where all addresses begin in Tucson into a downtown destination and best-in-class arts and culture hub at a national level.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire the properties immediately adjacent to the Fox, and from there, develop them in a way that complements and extends the Fox’s mission, vision, and impact,” says Fox Board President Brent Davis. “We believe this is a legacy project for the Fox, for Rio Nuevo, and for Tucson.”
Fox Tucson Theatre’s Executive Director Bonnie Schock described anticipated benefits including greater artistic program diversity, next level patron and donor services, and complete evening and special occasion experiences for a significantly expanded audience. Key features of the contemplated expansion include a grand corner entry at Stone and Congress, thoughtful integration with the existing Fox based on best practices in historic preservation, expanded lobby areas, elevators and ADA accessibility serving both the historic auditorium and the expansion, a new flexible performance and event center, many more restrooms, and rooftop bar and dining.
Early concept renderings created by Swaim & Associates Architects provided an initial vision for how a redeveloped corner might look, feel, and function in relationship to the historic theatre. An Operating Feasibility and Economic Impact Study conducted by Johnson Consulting finds that when combined with the historic Fox, the proposed project would create a signature, distinctive venue and premier function space in the downtown core. The study projects dramatic increases in the Fox’s attendance, days of use, net revenues, and overall local economic impact. A Fundraising Feasibility Study is also underway, being conducted by Alexander|Carrillo Consulting. Major findings to date indicate enthusiasm for the concept, and ability for the Fox to successfully complete the necessary capital campaign.
All plans at this time remain speculative, including acquisition of the properties currently in process, and a final decision by the Fox board of directors on next steps. Fox Expansion Committee Chairperson Nancy March said, “Our board is approaching this concept with both enthusiasm and appropriate due diligence. Ongoing research is aimed at ensuring the most successful outcomes so that we may realize the full potential of the Fox now and into the future.”
Fox leadership was thrilled to receive enthusiastic feedback and a substantial early commitment of support for the development project presented to the Rio Nuevo board. The board unanimously voted to sell the historic Fox Theatre (for which the Rio Neuvo Board holds the title) back to the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation for $100, forgiving the existing debt, and allowing them to explore the project from a position of strength. And further, the Rio Neuvo Board agreed to contribute up to two million dollars in matching funds towards the potential project.
Schock stated “We are honored to have the partnership of Rio Nuevo on this bold, transformational vision for the Fox and downtown Tucson. While there are many unknowns and much more to explore before the Fox board determines the right next steps, we are grateful for Rio Nuevo’s actions today. An expanded Fox will honor and build upon the history we treasure, delivering truly special experiences in a one-of-a-kind setting that boasts the modern amenities our community expects and deserves. We all look forward to the possibilities that may lie just around the corner, and to sharing more as this concept evolves in the coming months.”
Take a closer look!
The Future is Right Around the Corner Fox Tucson Theatre Expansion Project. For more information, click on the link below-