Sugar Hill Neighborhood Profile

Sugar Hill Neighborhood by Marlene Avelino

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The Sugar Hill neighborhood is bordered by Grant Rd. to the north, 4th Ave. to the east, Seneca St. again to the north, First Ave. again to the east, Lee St. to the south, and Stone Ave. to the west. It’s a perfect square except for the corner that voted itself out and became the El Cortez neighborhood in the late 90s. Sugar Hill is anchored by two churches: Mt. Olive Church of God in Christ at the corner of Lee St. and 4th Ave., and Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, which was established in 1900 and is the oldest Black church in Arizona. 

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Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church at 210 E. Lester St.

In the middle of Sugar Hill sits Mansfield Park, with almost 21 acres of open space, sports fields, a public pool, a community garden and the Donna Liggins Recreation Center. The recreation center was renamed to honor Ms. Donna Liggins, the long-time supervisor of the center, after she retired from working for the City for 42 years. Just across the street from Mansfield Park is the 6th Ave. Dog Park with ramadas, a grassy area, benches, and a double entry gate on 1.3 acres. 

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The Donna Liggins Center at Mansfield Park

The neighborhood is mostly residential, made up of single-family homes, a few multi-family housing units, and some student housing. Most of the homes were built in the 40s and 50s made mostly of slump block with a handful of adobes from the 30s mixed in. The residential lots in Sugar Hill are larger than most residential lots and zoned R2. This eventually became attractive to developers of “mini-dorms,” which transformed large swaths of the neighborhood into student housing. Today, of the 504 single-family homes in Sugar Hill, 260 are owner occupied.

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"Bronx Wash Mural" Beautify and Unify - 2009

Sugar Hill is a historically Black neighborhood, one of only a few areas in Tucson where Black people were allowed to purchase property because of "redlining." New developments in the 50s and 60s restricted the purchase of homes to whites-only via deed restrictions, pushing non-whites into specific areas without these restrictions. Those areas were then redlined - home loans were denied and city investments were withheld. For a quick read about redlining, check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining. For a deep dive, I recommend the book “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein. 

The Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association is active and meets on the second Wednesday of every month. To be added to the listserv please email: sugarhill85705@googlegroups.com. 

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Community Garden on the southeast side of Mansfield Park, gate created by BICAS!

Sugar Hill is also home to some of the City’s most extensive and thoughtful passive rainwater harvesting features. A walking path on 5th Ave. leads to Mansfield park, shaded by mature native trees and lush with native grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers. Bronx Wash is paved in concrete and cuts through Sugar Hill from 1st Ave. to 6th Ave. on Linden Street. Residents have been working with the City to allow for the restoration of trees and vegetation along the wash, which would allow for water infiltration and help combat the heat island effect of the surrounding concrete and asphalt. There are also plans for a footbridge across the wash connecting the 5th Ave greenway to a walking path that leads to the park.

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A roadrunner sits atop a rock in the greenway on the corner of 5th Ave and Lester.

Most businesses in Sugar Hill are on the west side of the neighborhood, between 6th Ave. and Stone Ave. The Tucson Symphony Orchestra is just north of the 6th Ave. Dog Park. Additionally, BICAS (Bicycle Inter-Community Art and Salvage) is located to the southwest of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra; BICAS is a mobility organization with an emphasis on affordable bicycle transportation, education, and creative recycling.