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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA seeks new role in Rio Nuevo

    Officials at the UA’s Flandrau Science Center are rethinking their options for involvement in downtown’s Rio Nuevo project after last week’s decision to terminate the Rainbow Bridge idea.

    The original concept was to build a 370-foot-tall arch over Interstate 10, which would attract visitors to the UA Science Center, suspended from the bridge.

    The Tucson City Council failed to support the idea because of its $350 million price tag and the questionable economic impact the bridge would have on the city.

    However, since the Rainbow Bridge was the university’s focal point at Rio Nuevo, the recent axe has left administrators brainstorming other ways the UA could attract attention to the science center.

    “”We are still investigating new directions to take with the program, and we should see some new ideas come up in the next few months,”” said Rob Vugteveen, director of marketing and outreach at Flandrau.

    An economic impact study conducted independent research firm ConsultEcon Inc., reported that integrating the science center downtown would create 5,000 new permanent jobs and generate $360 million in “”economic activity.””

    Alexis Faust, the executive director of Flandrau, said she was not deterred by the city’s lack of support for the idea.

    “”The Rainbow Bridge design for the University of Arizona Science Center was only one model for creating a sustainable science center for Rio Nuevo,”” Faust said in a press release. “”We look forward to working with the community to define an alternative plan for the Science Center that will be as sustainable and equally dynamic.””

    Rio Nuevo officials still recognizes the importance the UA will play in the progress and success of the venture, said Anne Vargas, downtown housing coordinator for Rio Nuevo.

    “”The idea is to connect the U of A with downtown and Fourth Avenue to form a contiguous hub of activity,”” said Vargas in reference to plans for a light-rail transportation system.

    In a letter to the mayor and city council, President Robert Shelton said he is committed to integrating the UA into downtown culture.

    “”I am directing my staff to work robustly with the City of Tucson to reconfigure a presence for UA Science Center at Rio Nuevo so that it compliments this project seamlessly without losing sight of the original vision,”” said Shelton.

    The Rainbow Bridge, lauded as a potential Tucson landmark, was designed by renowned architect Rafael ViÇñoly, who was the runner-up in the World Trade Center redevelopment project in 2002.

    Rio Nuevo, a project aimed to revitalize downtown Tucson, would build more entertainment options, tourist attractions and a light-rail system that would connect the university with downtown Tucson.

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