Opwest Tucson AZ

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Opwest Tucson AZ

Introduction & Research Strategy

The city of Tucson, Arizona is home to many cultural traditions and deep historical backgrounds. As the city begins to prioritize redevelopment and growth, many new businesses are flooding the area. One of the newest announcements is that of the hotel at One South Church, which is intended to bring new life to downtown Tucson and attract tourists interesting in immersing themselves in local culture. Below is a high-level overview of the history of the tower at One South Church St. in Tucson, AZ. Following this, more historical context surrounding the street that One South Church tower is located — Church Street (now called Church Ave.) — has also been provided. Next, a brief but detailed history of downtown Tucson, the city of Tucson, and Southern Arizona have been depicted.

Following the historical context of Tucson and One South Church, research was conducted to locate information regarding the physical context and styles that are native to Tucson, AZ. This includes a detailed analysis of the types of plants and wildlife that are found in Tucson, popular color schemes and textures, major landmarks and architectural styles, and the overall geography of the city. After detailing the structure of Tucson in physical terms, lists of the most notable restaurants, art/music venues, and even celebrities with ties to Tucson have been compiled, as have descriptions of local customs, growth trends, activities, and businesses/industries. These findings were pulled from city websites where possible so as to provide the most accurate findings possible. Any sections that designated "top" lists were identified from pre-compiled top lists via other sources.

Historical Context

Building History — The Tower at One South Church St. in Tucson, AZ
  • The tower at 1 South Church St. in Tucson, AZ was designed by Curtis W. Fentress of Fentress Architecture and began construction in 1984 under Sundt Corp.; it was completed just two years later in 1986.
  • One South Church tower is often referred to as being 23 stories tall, skipping the count of the 13th floor. However, it actually has a total of 22 floors above ground level and 3 floors below ground level. The tower measures in at 330 feet in height and has 7 elevators.
  • Upon its completion, the tower was originally named the United Bank Tower. It was then called the Citibank Tower, the Norwest Tower, and finally the UniSource Energy Tower. It wasn't until 2011 that the building was officially referred to by its address, One South Church.
  • The tower's infrastructure is made of steel, while the facade consists of rose-tinted glass from Belgium and granite from Finland. The exterior The architectural style of the building is considered postmodern.
  • When One South Church tower was originally built, it was originally intended to have a second twin tower, although this was never constructed and the second lot was eventually purchased by another party.

Street History — South Church St. in Tucson, AZ
  • Church St. in Tucson, AZ was named for the San Agustin Cathedral and convent that was built during the Spanish period in the city between 1860-1863. The San Agustin Cathedral was located in between Court St. and Church St. until it was demolished in 1936. Prior to its demolition, this building acted as a number of different businesses, including a Shell gas station. The stone entryway of the San Agustin Cathedral is the only part of the original structure that remains today, and it can be found over the entrance to the Arizona Historical Society.
  • As the community in Tucson grew around the San Agustin Cathedral in the late 1800s, the need for a larger church was dire. In 1897, the Saint Augustine Church was completed and dedicated. Today, two churches are now located along South Church St. in Tucson — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson and the Cathedral of Saint Augustine.
  • In July 2020, construction of the RendeVous Urban Flats in the lot that was originally intended to be the location of a twin tower for One South Church was completed. This structure is five stories tall and consist of 100 one- and two-bedroom units ranging in size from 660-1,100 square feet. This building was designed to revitalize downtown Tucson and draw attention to other nearby properties, including the Fox Theater and Chase Bank Tower, which are right across the street.

Neighborhood History — Downtown Tucson, AZ
  • The oldest building with any remnants found in Tucson were located during an excavation project in what is now downtown Tucson. The remnants are thought to be part of the Presidio San Agustin Del Tucson, which was originally a military fort constructed under the Spanish Army in 1775. The fort was torn down by the United States after they bought the land through the Gadsen Purchase of 1853. Today, the remnants are on display at the Pima County Courthouse.
  • In 1880, the Southern Pacific Railroad opened and ran through Tucson, presenting the opportunity for the area to grow. Five years later in 1885, the University of Arizona opened as the first university in the area.
  • By the early 1900s, downtown Tucson began to evolve with the opening of Hotel Congress in 1918, Rialto Theater in 1922, the Pima County Courthouse in 1929, and the Fox Theater in 1930. These structures were designed with an art deco, and all are still standing or have been reconstructed for use today.
  • After World War II, the population in Tuscon grew by 500% and quickly began to urbanize. In 1965-1966, Tuscon government prioritized redevelopment of downtown Tuscon, which involved demolishing the barrio neighborhoods and constructing the Tucson Convention Center, La Placita, and other government buildings.
  • In July 2014, the Tucson streetcar was constructed and began operations, which resulted in more than 200 businesses opening up in downtown Tucson.
  • Parts of the El Charro restaurant, which was around in downtown Tucson in 1972 on West Broadway Blvd are intended to be restored and integrated into the 2.6 acre La Placita Village complex, which will consist of Mexican-style shops, cafes, and residences. Parts of the El Charro restaurant date back to the 1860s.
  • Over the last 10 years, more than 80 restaurants have been established in downtown Tucson, while historical buildings such as the Rialto Theatre have been restored. New real estate developments have also begun to take shape, including hotels, skyrises, and apartment complexes.

City History — Tucson, AZ
  • The city of Tucson is thought to have been settled for the first time nearly 12,000 years ago by Paleo-Indians in the Pleistocene era. The oldest remnants of building structures in Tucson date back approximately 4,000 years to 2100 BCE from the Hohokam people.
  • Tuscon as it is remembered more commonly today dates back to 1775 or 1776 when the Presidio San Agustin Del Tucson was constructed under the Spanish Army. Tucson gained its independence from Spain in 1821, after being purchased for approximately $10 million from Mexico and by 1830 had grown into a small Mexican village filled with one- and two-room adobe-style houses. Locals used the nearby Santa Cruz River as a water source and to farm crops such as squashes, beans, grains, and large fruits.
  • Although the Tucson area was purchased by the United States in 1854 through the Gadsden purchase, it wasn't until the mid-1860s that Anglosaxon Americans began to reside in the area, and American women didn't arrive until 1872.
  • After Arizona became a U.S. territory in 1863, Tucson acted as its military headquarters. Between 1867-1877, Tucson was also the capital of Arizona, before which Prescott was the capital. Tucson officially became a city in Arizona in 1877, despite having no electricity or public works to further modernize the region.
  • The first Bank in Tucson, Pima County Bank, opened its doors and accepted its first deposit in 1879, and the installment of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880 ensured that more Americans would continue to settle there. Around this time there were approximately 7,000 people living in the Tucson territory.
  • Even though the University of Arizona was first established in 1885, the University didn't actually open until 1891. This facility was often referred to as "Old Main" by local residents.
  • In 1919, the first municipally-owned airport in the United States was opened in Tucson at S. Sixth Ave. By 1927, the airport was moved to Davis-Monthan due to the need for more space as plane sizes increased.
  • In 1920, Tucson lost its title of "Metropolis of Arizona" to Phoenix, as Phoenix boasted greater agriculture, water supply, and climate. In an effort to keep locals from moving away and attract tourists, Tucson established the Sunshine Climate Club to increase local development. The El Con Mall, Tucson's first shopping major shopping development, opened in 1960 where the El Conquistador Hotel used to be located.
  • The Tucson City Council approved an urban renewal project for in 1965 that forced many inner cities to relocate to make room for new government buildings and retail complexes, in hopes of revitalizing the area and attracting new tourists and residents. The project was updated 70 acres worth of inner city land and was finished in the 1970s.
  • Between 1993 and 1999, the Central Arizona Project for water treatment and delivery was updated to develop nearby water basins for Tucson and direct delivery of water to households in the area.
  • In 2010, spring training for Major League baseball was transferred from Tucson to Phoenix as teams sought out newer, larger stadiums. Today, no professional baseball teams are from or play in Tucson.

Region History — Southern Arizona
  • Southern Arizona consists of three Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MAPs) with a population of at least 50,000 — Tucson, Sierra Vista-Douglas, and Yuma — all of which are located south of the Gila River. The United States originally purchased this region of Arizona through the Gadsden Purchase with the intent of constructing a transcontinental railroad between Texas and California.
  • Between the last 500 and 1,000 years, Southern Arizona was inhabited by Native Americans, including the Hohokam, Tohono O'odham, and Hopi Indians, as the land was rich in mineral resources, including copper, turquoise, and salt. In the early 16th century, the Spanish entered the region in hopes of striking gold and silver.
  • The Apache Wars, a series of battles, lasted for 24 years in Southern Arizona between 1861-1886. The battles took place at a number of locations in Southern Arizona, including Fort Bowie in the Dos Cabezas Mountains, the Chiricahue National Monument, the Cochise Stronghold in Pearce, Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, and Fort Lowell in Tucson. These battles were an effort by the Apache Indians to resist expansion of both the United States and Mexico into the region. The first battles, now known as Cochise's War, were an attempt by Chief Cochise of the Chockonen band of the Chiricahua Apache in the area to prevent new settlers from taking over their land. The second part of the Apache Wars, referred to as Geronimo, was an effort led by medicine man of the Bedonkehe band of the Chiricahua Apache to get revenge for the loss of his wife and children by the hands of Mexican settlers. These battles lasted until Geronimo surrendered at the hands of U.S. Lietenant Charles Gatewood.

Physical Context

Geography & Geology
  • The city of Tucson, AZ sits at 2,389 feet above sea level and covers approximately 500 square miles of space. Tucson is located about 115 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the Mexican border.
  • The following mountain ranges surround the city of Tucson in each direction:
    • East: Rincon Mountains
    • West: Tucson Mountains
    • North/Northeast: Santa Catalina Mountains
    • South/Southeast: Santa Rita Mountains
    • Northwest: Tortolita Mountains
  • On the western edge of downtown Tucson is a small mountain called Sentinel Peak, although this peak is most commonly referred to as the "A" Mountain by locals. The base of this mountain was the site of the archaeological dig where remnants of Tucson's earliest settlements were found from 4,000 years ago.
  • Tucson lies south of the Gila River, west of the San Pedro River, and directly along the Santa Cruz River. It is part of the Sonoran Desert but consists of both desert and desert grassland biomes.

Architectural Styles
  • Tucson is home to a wide variety of architectural styles that vary based on when the structures were built. Those that are rather unique to Tucson and Arizona include:
    • Sonoran (1840-1890) — high ceilings and adobe-like structures; typically seen in row homes in the Barrios
    • Transformed Sonoran (1863-1912) — simple homes with round arcades, vertical rectangular windows, and gabled roofs
    • Craftsman Bungalow (1905-1930) — made of local, natural materials; handcrafted look; tapered, square columns with front porch and stone/woodwork
    • Spanish Colonial (1915-1945) — stucco, clay tiles, flat roofs; elaborate entryways with concrete ornaments; bell towers and domes found in religious structures; balconies with iron railings
    • Mediterranean Revival (1920-1930) — multistory, rectangular floorplans; symmetrical facades; stucco walls, terra cotta/tile roofs and arches; tile-capped parapet walls, wood/wrought iron balconies
    • Pueblo Revival (1920-1950) — inspired by Pueblos and Spanish Mission; adobe-style construction made with brick and concrete; rounded corners, thick stucco walls painted in earth tones; flat roofs and wooden beams
    • Ranch House (1935-1975) — "L" or "U" shaped adobe-style houses; low ceilings with open floor plans and emphasize familial closeness
    • Post-War Pueblo (1955-1965) — inspired by Pueblo Revival, but with more decorative vigas and canals

Flora & Fauna
  • This source from the Tucson Audubon Society offers an extensive list of plants that are native to Tucson, Arizona. Due to the length of the list, the categories have been identified below, but the common and scientific names of all local flora are stated, as well as when, where, and how they grow. This list includes:
    • Thorny desert trees
    • Non-thorny desert/Riparian trees
    • Small, medium, and large shrubs
    • Grasses
    • Cacti, Succulents, Agaves, Yuccas, and accent plants
    • Vines
  • Critters and animals that are local to Tucson and its surrounding areas include:
    • Mountain lions
    • Rattlesnakes
    • Scorpions
    • Tarantulas
    • Gila Monsters
    • Javelina
    • Prarie Dogs
    • Coyotes
    • Bighorn sheep
    • Jackrabbits
    • Desert Bird
    • Roadrunners

Sights & Smells
  • From Tumanoc Hill, one can see the desert sunrise in Tucson and much of downtown Tucson.
  • Located just 15 miles outside of Tucson, the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway offers views from the desert valley up through the Santa Catalina Mountain Range, and features up-close looks at desert cacti, streams, and even pine trees.
  • The Valley View Overlook Trail offers a look over the entire West portion of Saguaro National Park.
  • Southwest of Tucson is Sabino Canyon, which offers a 7-mile round-trip hike featuring a waterfall, mountain views, and numerous desert plants.
  • The Agua Caliente is a unique park near Mt. Lemmon featuring natural warm springs and ponds, a rare site within the desert.
  • Sentinel Peak, also known as "A" Mountain is a man-made hill made of basalt rock, at the top of which one can see the sunrise and sunset, as well as all of downtown Tucson.
  • Creosote plants in Tucson give off a musky smell year-round in Tucson that is similar to the smell of rain, despite the minimal rainfall seen in Tucson annually. Other fragrant desert shrubs include green brittlebush, star jasmine, and moonflower, among others.
  • Flowers that grow on older Saguaro cacti are said to smell sweet like pumpkins, while the fruits of these cacti taste like berries and melon.
  • Desert flowers that are said to have a pleasant, fragrant scent include Penstemon, Alyssum, and chocolate flowers.

Textures & Colors
  • Home exteriors in Tucson are made with varying materials of differing textures, dependent upon the style of architecture and when they were built. Some of the most common building materials and textures include:
    • Stucco — lime, smooth, concrete
    • Glass — leaded, blocks
    • Wood — rounded roof vigas, gabled, clapboard siding, posts
    • Concrete — stuccoed, block, cast
    • Metals — gabled, wrought iron railings, steel railings
    • Other — adobe bricks, clay tile, plaster, burnt adobe, slump block, red clay roof tiles, brick caps, stone foundations
  • Stuccoed walls are often painted earth tones in Tucson, while Sonoran-style structures may be painted more vibrant colors, such as blues, oranges, yellows, and greens.
  • Desert palettes are the most popular color schemes in Tucson, including pale lavenders, light grays and greens, sky blues, and sandy tans.
  • Vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds are commonly seen in fall months in the local foliage, and smoky desert greens are visible year round.

Landmarks & Destinations

Cultural Context

Top Activities

Trends, Shifts, & Behavior Changes
  • According to Norada Real Estate Investments, the real estate market in Tucson is considered moderately hot as home prices increase. Between 2016-2020, the median home price in Tucson increased by 41.2% from $162,000 to $215,965. This market
  • The warmer summer weather in Tucson makes it a desirable location for summer and vacation homes, making it a large season rental and retirement market. Tucson also houses a large student and military population due to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Arizona State University.
  • In downtown Tucson and western neighborhoods, gentrification and house flipping is becoming more prevalent as local government pushes initiatives for revitalization and development. The city of Tucson is focused on bringing new business to the area in hopes of keeping the city alive and bringing in a larger tourist population. Some local residents are frustrated about this process, as developers are receiving tax relief while household taxes are rising.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic revealed disparities in access to health care and basic resources in Latin American and African American communities in Tucson. According to the Pima County Health Department, zip codes with the lowest infection rates were mostly white, while those with the highest rates were round in the southside of Tucson and comprised of mostly Latino citizens.
  • Data from PWC suggests that Tucson meets the average U.S. demand rates for investments in the local market (2.91/5), as well as an average opportunity for development and redevelopment opportunities (3.00/5).
  • In west Tucson, proposals for housing developments are being approved by they city despite opposition from the locals. New developments are designed to attract entry-level and first-time home buyers. Local residents are fearful that new builds could heavily disrupt local wildlife.

Top Businesses & Industries
  • According to the City of Tucson government, aerospace and defense are the largest economic contributors to the city, and Tucson is ranked 5th in the U.S. for these markets. Tucson is also known for its optics industry because of the Optical Sciences Center (OSC) at the University of Arizona, as well as renewable energy via solar power.
  • The Greater Tucson Economic Council offers an incentive program to promote local business development in aerospace, life sciences, environmental technology, information technology, optics, and advanced materials.
  • The largest companies in Tucson based on number of people employed are:
    • University of Arizona — 11,000 employees
    • Raytheon Missile Systems — 9,600 employees
    • State of Arizona — 8,500 employees
    • Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — 8,400 employees
    • Tucson Unified School District — 7,700 employees
    • U.S. Border Patrol — 6,500 employees
    • University of Arizona Health Network — 6,100 employees
    • Pima County — 6,100 employees
    • Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold — 5,500 employees
    • U.S. Army Intelligence Center & Fort Huachuca — 5,100 employees
    • City of Tucson — 4,600 employees

Notable Citizens
  • Hailey Baldwin-Bieber (1996-X): Model, born in Tucson
  • George Arias (1972-X): Professional baseball player, lived in Tucson
  • Michael Bennett (1943-1987): Dancer, died in Tucson
  • Joseph Bonanno, aka "Joey Bananas" (1905-2002): Businessman, alleged mafia family head; died to Tucson
  • Francois Bordes (1919-1981): Archaeologist, educator, author; died in Tucson
  • Frank Borman (1928-X): Astronaut, lives in Tucson
  • Van Cliburn (1934-2013): American pianist, lived in Tucson
  • John Denver (1943-1997): American singer, lived in Tucson
  • Barbara Eden (1934-X): Actor, born in Tucson
  • Michael Sean Elliot (1968-X): Professional basketball player, born in Tucson
  • Savannha Guthrie (1971-X): TV personality and journalist, lives in Tucson
  • Earl Hindman (1942-2003): Actor, lived in Tucson
  • Mark Kelly (1964-X): American astronaut, lived in Tucson
  • Lee Marvin (1924-1987): American actor, died in Tucson
  • Linda McCartney (1941-1998): American photographer and wife of Beatle Paul McCartney, died in Tucson
  • Sir Paul McCartney (1942-X): Vocalist, songwriter, composer, bass player, poet, and ex-Beatle; lives in Tucson
  • John James Mitchell (1846-1898): Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died in Tucson
  • James "Jesse" Owens (1913-1980): American track and field athlete, Medal of Freedom recipient; died in Tucson
  • Dominick "Don" Pardo (1918-2014): Radio and television broadcaster, actor; died in Tucson
  • Gary Shandling (1949-2016): Comedian and TV personality, lived in Tucson
  • Eric Jason Thomas (1964-X): Professional football player, born in Tucson
  • John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960): Financier and philanthropist, died in Tucson

Notable Restaurants

Art & Music

Local Iconography, Aesthetics, Styles, & Flavors
  • Arguably the most renowned icon in Tucson is the "A" found atop Sentinel Peak (also known as "A" Mountain). The A is symbolic of many things throughout the city, including peak, the University of Arizona, and even the Virgen de Guadalupe. The A is representative of the reverence of the Virgen de Guadalupe, and also acts as something to bring local cultures together.
  • At the intersection of Grant and Tanque Verde stands a T. Rex statue right next to a local McDonald's restaurant. This statue is iconic to most youth in the area, and is often used as a descriptor when giving directions, as well as being a popular photo op. The dinosaur is symbolic of the 1994 release of Jurassic Park and remains there today as a historical landmark. There used to be another, smaller dinosaur statue in the vicinity, but it was removed upon remodeling of the McDonald's next door.
  • A majority of the food and food traditions in Tucson are centered around Mexican, Sonoran, Mission-Mediterranean, and Native American foods. Many restaurants work to incorporate native ingredients into their dishes, and some even grow crops from ancient times.

Quirky Local Customs
  • The Winterhaven Festival of Lights is an annual Christmas light display in midtown Tucson. The festival has been ongoing for 68 years and is free to visit.
  • Las Posadas is an annual procession by the students at the historical Carrillo Elementary School. Each year since 1937, the students dress as angels and walk through the Barrio Viejo neighborhood carrying candles as a way to reenact the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary.
  • The Downtown Parade of Lights is an annual winter driving parade, during which a train of vehicles display light features to celebrate the start of the Christmas season.
  • The San Xavier sells tickets each year to a Christmas display and concert. The tickets start at $100 each and tend to sell out quickly each year.
  • Each January, the Tucson Jazz Festival lasts for two weeks to celebrate jazz music at local venues, including the Fox Tucson and Rialto Theatres.
  • In November each year, the city of Tucson hosts the "All Souls Procession Weekend," during which more than 150,000 locals walk two miles through the city to celebrate the Dia de los Muertos and All Souls Day, part of Mexican tradition.
  • The Tucson Meet Yourself Festival lasts for 3 days in October each year in downtown Tucson, during which more than 60 acres are flooded with local vendors and entertainment to showcase all that the city has to offer.
  • The Tucson Rodeo Parade has been an annual event in February since 1925 as a way to celebrate the city's western heritage. The event hosts the annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit and is the largest non-motorized parade in the U.S. today.

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