NewsNet 08-13-14

STREETCAR RECEIVES MORE NATIONAL PRAISE - NationSwell - a digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal - says the American-made, zero-emissions Sun Link Tucson Streetcar is a great example of a community creating an environmentally-friendly, seamless public transit experience, complete with buses. The company's website makes reference to the $1.5 billion of public and private investment along the entire route, including housing developments, restaurants, and retail. The Downtown Tucson Partnership quantifies $930 million in investment since 2008 just in the Downtown Reporting District. Sun Link connects the University of Arizona with the 4th Avenue Business District, Downtown Tucson, and the Mercado District under development west of Interstate 10. Meanwhile, a recent study by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (ArizonaPIRG) shows the importance of public transit, saying the number of trips in Tucson increased by nearly 25 percent between 2005 and 2010. Much of the shift is being led by people between the ages of 18 to 34.
Relive the video of opening day of streetcar service from Tucson 12
BUSINESSES SEEING INCREASE IN SALES ALONG STREETCAR ROUTE - The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar only has been carrying passengers just shy of three weeks, but businesses along the 3.9-mile route say they're already seeing a increase in customers. "We normally close at six, but we've had a lot of people coming up to the door when we're ready to leave. So, we come back in and take care of them," said Mark Levkowitz of the downtown Chicago Music Store on East Congress Street. "So, we may consider changing our hours." Operators of nearby Tucson Olive Central say people are getting off the streetcar to browse and buy.
RIO NUEVO BOARD DELAYS DECISION ON PROPOSED DOWNTOWN HOTEL - The Rio Nuevo Board of Directors didn't take any final action yesterday on proposals by two downtown developers competing to build a $100 million-plus hotel project. Each developer hopes to win the chance to build on about 8.5 acres of Rio Nuevo district land near the Tucson Convention Center (TCC). The board voted 3-2 to take a few days to think about how members will individually score the proposals. The board will then vote on whether to open negotiations with a winner at a future meeting. Allan Norville, manager of Nor-Generations, and Ron Schwabe of Peach Properties, hope to develop the land behind the TCC along Granada Avenue, east of Interstate 10 and north of Cushing Street. Both proposals include plans for a hotel, parking garage and some mix of apartments, office space, restaurants, and shops. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
STATE REGULATORS OKAY SALE OF TUCSON ELECTRIC POWER'S PARENT COMPANY - The Arizona Corporation Commission yesterday unanimously approved the $4.3 billion sale of UNS Energy Corp. to Fortis Inc., a Canadian utility. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the month and not have any dramatic effect on ratepayers. However, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) customers will see small billing reductions - about a $1 month on average for residential customers and $200 for commercial users - under a provision of the merger deal that calls for $30 million in credits to be distributed among ratepayers over five years. Under other conditions of the merger, Fortis has committed to maintain or improve service quality, keep its current charitable commitments for at least five years, and in future rate cases filed through 2020, the company must show any proposed increases in bills are lower than they would have been without the acquisition. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
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