By Becky Pallack for Arizona Daily Star
Several east-side Tucson neighborhoods have launched a campaign to fight a proposed Fry’s supercenter development, saying the height of the buildings violates a promise the city made 30 years ago when it annexed the area.
The group, called Save Houghton East, also says the development would hurt Saguaro National Park.
The proposed development calls for a 124KSF Fry’s grocery store on a 16-acre site at the northeast corner of South Houghton Road and East 22nd Street. It would employ 160 people and be open from 6 a.m. to midnight.
For comparison, the Target supercenter at 9615 E. Old Spanish Trail is about 144KSF, and the Walmart supercenter at 2711 S. Houghton Road is about 92KSF.
The development would additionally have a 9,300SF, nine-pump gas station and two separate retail or restaurant buildings of 12.9KSF and 4,500SF.
There are two vacant grocery stores a mile north, one of which will reopen next month. Fry’s would close and sell its 53KSF store a mile west at Harrison and 22nd if it is allowed to build the new store.
Building on that lot is subject to rules in the Houghton East Neighborhood Plan, which was created to set conditions under which the neighborhood agreed to be annexed into the city in 1985.
The rules say buildings at the site can be no taller than 20 feet. Brentwood Development is asking for the rules to be changed to allow 26 feet.
While the issue is complex, the request to change the height limit is what the Tucson City Council will vote on at its March 8 meeting.
A public hearing will be part of the meeting.
If approved by the council, the developers next would have to go through the planned-area-development rezoning process. New commercial zoning would allow additional height for “ornamental elements.” The developer’s plan calls for a 26-foot-tall building with 4-foot-tall parapets for signage.
The city’s Planning Commission approved the requested rule change 9-0 with two abstentions at a meeting last month and sent the request on to the City Council for consideration next month.
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