Fox Tucson Theatre leaders recently 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 compliments and extends the Fox’s mission, vision, and impact,” said Fox Board President Brent Davis. “We believe this is a legacy project for the Fox, for Rio Nuevo, and for Tucson.”
Fox 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 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 Nuevo 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 Nuevo 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.”