New Paradise Falls Project Promises Unique Public Destination

A Pima County-owned vacant lot south of the Rillito River is set to become a vibrant neighborhood gathering place, revitalizing a scruffy patch of land with amenities for the entire community.

The seed of the project was planted in 1988, when the Pima County Regional Flood Control District acquired a 10.6-acre property at 4051 E. Paradise Falls Dr., with an eye toward constructing bank protection in the aftermath of the deadly 1983 flood.

That seed is finally ready to blossom. The county has reached an agreement with Mark and Eric Erman, who own the popular Ermanos Bar in Tucson, to develop a commercial project on the southern 5.3 acres of the site. The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 March 19 to accept a proposal made by Infinite Concepts, LP, the Erman brothers’ company.

The project promises to take full advantage of the site’s convenient location; it offers easy access to the popular Chuck Huckelberry Loop and is only a stone’s throw from popular outdoor destinations such as George Mehl Family Foothills Park to the north and Brandi Fenton Memorial Park to the west.

ALIGN, the Erman brothers’ winning submission to the county’s 2021 request for proposals, envisioned “a one-of-a-kind destination for Tucson residents and visitors alike,” providing Loop users with a convenient place to stop after a bike ride or a trail run and replenish their water supply, take a shower or grab a snack. The wellness-focused proposal included multi-age play areas, retail and hospitality space, and region-appropriate landscaping.

The brothers’ thesis statement for ALIGN describes the project as “an inclusive space of warmhearted hospitality whose quality catalyzes peak joy, creative expression, reflection, movement, and ultimately individual and community well-being.”

In addition to the 5.3-acre property, the project will incorporate the Loop parking area and public restrooms immediately to the north of the site, increasing the total size of the project to 6.919 acres, which is protected by the bank protection installed by RFCD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1996.

“I am very happy the Board unanimously approved the County’s agreement with Infinite Concepts, LP for the Paradise Falls project,” said Heath Vescovi-Chiordi, director of Pima County Economic Development.

“Many of us are familiar with the success of the Erman brothers’ restaurant concept Ermanos, as well as their speakeasy concept Portal, both on Fourth Avenue.”

Along with providing a welcome stop for users of The Loop, the project promises to foster economic development in an important region.

“Development of this new concept will add to the list of amenities for residents near the project area, and will do so while incorporating elements of existing amenities, such as The Loop, and do it in a vibe and style that fits the area,” Vescovi-Chiordi said.

“This is truly a great development opportunity for the area, and I for one cannot wait to see it come to fruition.”

The project, which will first need to go through a rezoning process in the City of Tucson, will mark a second chapter for the long-undeveloped property. Originally considered a flood-prone site, the land was filled in by RFCD during a 2016 river dredging project and is now safe for development.

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