Proof of Life on Broadway

The Burlington Coat Factory, setting up shop in El Con Mall, and the Casitas on Broadway, being built east of Campbell Avenue, are optimistic indicators of one of Tucson’s major, albeit rundown, thoroughfares.

The Broadway Corridor stretching east from Downtown is pockmarked with dated, dingy buildings. Renovating a decades-old building can be cost prohibitive and some parking lots are actually parking slivers. However, the retailer and the senior housing facility point to the potential of the corridor.

Burlington Coat Factory took a 10-year lease on 65,000-square-feet of former Dillard’s space in El Con Mall, 3601 E. Broadway Blvd., according to the CoStar Group, a commercial real estate information company. Burlington is expected to open in March in space that was vacant for more than 10 years. Burlington’s merchandise will be on the ground floor of the former Dillard’s (long-time Tucsonans will remember it as Goldwater’s department store). The second floor will not be occupied. The exterior is being designed by Ellerman Schick & Bruno Architects to meet El Con’s architectural standards. Nancy McClure of CB Richard Ellis of Tucson represented the landlord, Magna Investment & Development. John Graul of Eleven Realty represented the tenant, according to CoStar.

If you’re scratching your head wondering why Tucson needs a “coat factory,” it doesn’t. Burlington’s first store in Tucson, as its six other stores in Arizona, will sell sunshine-appropriate, discounted name-brand clothing and shoes, and linens and home décor. Burlington’s profile dovetails with El Con tenants Ross Dress for Less and Target, and may indicate a shift to a discount retailing emphasis for Tucson’s first mall, which opened in 1960.

A few blocks to the west, the 57-unit affordable senior living facility, Casitas on Broadway, 2121 E. Broadway Blvd., is under construction. The Casitas, on site of the former Don Mackey car dealership, are a nonprofit housing joint venture between Tucson Housing Foundation and Catholic Community Services. The project estimate is $6 million.

Developers worked with the adjacent Sam Hughes neighborhood in the design the senior housing facility. Even though the unit size and common areas are limited by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), the units will be clustered around courtyards to create a sense of smaller communities, according to architect Lizard Rock Designs website. Likewise, the developers are eyeing a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification for environmentally sustainable construction.

Burlington and the Casitas demonstrate the potential for renovation and infill along Tucson’s Broadway Corridor.


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