All eyes on developer Stiteler and his downtown hotel - Inside Tucson Business: News

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All eyes on developer Stiteler and his downtown hotel

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 5:08 pm

Scott Stiteler says all eyes will be on him with his latest development project.

The hotel he plans to put on what is now a parking lot at Fifth Avenue and Broadway is something he says downtown Tucson needs. But Stiteler’s Marriott will be the first hotel to rise during the current downtown renaissance and the only lodging in the immediate area at all aside from the historic Hotel Congress, drawing the eyes of banks and peers alike to see how he fares.

“It would have been a lot easier for us to do a smaller, more modest property,” he said this week. The hotel is ambitious, being more upscale than an inexpensive interstate off ramp chain.

It’s intimidating to go first, perhaps, but Stiteler said he’s patient and deliberate with his decisions, and he sounds ready for AC Tucson.

At about 150 rooms and seven stories, the AC Tucson will reflect the European boutique style of the AC Hotels brand, which Marriott acquired in 2010 and will soon reveal across the country, mostly in major urban centers like Manhattan, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami. The average daily rate would be about $145, Stiteler told the Rio Nuevo board in July.

Stiteler said the hotel is now about two months in to its design phase. Project leaders have traveled to Spain, the birthplace of the AC brand. He expects to turn over dirt this summer, with the hotel completed about a year and a half later.

The property will sit on the roughly 80-space parking lot behind the Hub restaurant and will require the demolition of the Bellovin Karnas Camarena building. The hotel includes a subterranean parking level. The seven above-ground stories include three more for parking.

Stiteler is conservative about what he feels he can promise this early on, but what he does want to build should fit in with downtown’s character- not held to the cookie cutter-style stylings of some franchises, but also not a luxury resort.

With the renovation of the former MLK Apartments into the market-rate One North Fifth flats, the surge of cafes and bistros like Hub, Proper, Maynards Market & Kitchen and others, and the University of Arizona’s presence with the college of architecture and a bookstore occupying the restored Roy Place building at Stone and Pennington, Stiteler said the hotel’s time has come.

In July, the Rio Nuevo board agreed to fund $4.3 million of the $27 million project, which would give Rio Nuevo ownership of the more than 200 parking spaces in the hotel’s attached garage.

The developers will lease back the spaces at $80 per month per space to pay back the loan. The hotel would also be worth about $10 million in taxes to the Rio Nuevo district over 12 years.

Contact reporter Hillary Davis at hdavis@azbiz.com or (520) 295-4254.

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