Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

This week we interview AC Hotel Tucson Downtown General Manager, Grant Bruce.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on– we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.

Reach us by email [email protected] — interact with us on Facebook @Life Along the Streetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife


Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson. It’s 11:30 a.m. On a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo and thanks for joining us during your brunch our I hope you’re enjoying a delicious Bloody Mary in anticipation of the Halloween celebrations going on this week. Maybe you were out getting moving this morning and jogging around downtown Tucson at the hakama. Plaza may be getting ready for cyclovia. Maybe you’re just recovering from a homecoming Victory by the Wildcats. Whatever you’re doing. I appreciate the fact that you took a moment to join us here. And listen to our show. Today is October 29th. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar. Each week we discuss the events and topics which impact those who live work and play in Tucson’s Urban core. Our focus is on social cultural economic impacts events in our goal is to shed some light on what’s happening with some of those hidden gems here in Tucson from a mountain into the U of A all stops in between our goal is to talk to those people in

Tom Heath: the know about what’s going on and share these great interviews. We’re also going to some fun guests here in the studio. Now, this is a community conversation. So we ask for your input. Let us know the topics you want to hear what are the things we should be exploring? What do you know that we should know? You can reach us by email contact at Life along the streetcar. Dot org or you can interact with us on Facebook at Life along the streetcar dot-org things that we cover on the show today will be on the Facebook page in case you want a little bit more information. So

Tom Heath: what is happening along the streetcar well? You probably heard that the Wildcats continue their impressive run by beating Washington State and homecoming game last night. I was at Arizona Stadium on the East End of the streetcar route. And if you travel to the West End the Tucson roadrunners just completed a weekend two-game sweep of the Iowa wild. And by the way, if you check out our Facebook page, there’s a really cool pic of the their new sweet streetcar themed Zamboni. Been

Tom Heath: doing the show now for about a month in preparation and I’ll tell you one of the one of the biggest benefits that I’ve come across in hosting. The show is getting to know some of the tremendous people in our community and what I’ve come to understand even more fully than when I began a month ago was that Tucson is filled with passionate difference makers and we don’t always agree and honestly sometimes our disagreements in our disputes become public and they become messy, but at the end of the day, it’s usually two people that care a lot about the growth and development of Tucson and they just differ and how they want to get to that solution. But I’ll tell you it’s been proven time and time again each time. I have these conversations that the more often that we get different perspectives in a room. the stronger the solutions and the better the outcomes tend to be it takes a lot of energy to be a Difference Maker. Of course. Some people are are paid to do what they do. But a lot of the folks are

Tom Heath: volunteers and really their reward is simply seeing others share in the success that they envision. But it’s a tremendous amount of energy and I’ve had a chance to speak with folks here that are spending their time and their energy. As Heritage caretakers working in the Museum’s or highlighting the things in our community that are Generations old and need to be preserved and highlighted. There’s also people working on economic development. There are people that are pushing the the tools of Entrepreneurship and Technology to a whole new level all in all. It’s really been an exciting time to be in the streetcar route and seeing all of these tremendous things happening. But recently I learned of the passing of a great champion in our community. This

Tom Heath: is someone I didn’t get a chance to interview and honestly, I only knew her through her reputation. And of course the news stories about all of her efforts I moved here in the 90s and Lillian Lopez grants name has been involved with many Tucson achievements. Lillian Lopez Grant was 77 years old when she succumbed to cancer on October 8. She grew up and raised her own family in Menlo Park. Most of her adult life was spent in serving the community and fighting for those things and those people for which she believed she was involved with economic social and cultural issues. And she was really looking for things that affected not just her neighborhood, but all of Tucson She was a major part of so many achievements. The list is a show in of itself the El Río De La Frontera centers, those are product of her efforts and she was a driving force for the cultural celebration of the Dia de San Juan celebration beginning of the monsoon season. Now there’s an Arizona Daily Star article that came out October

Tom Heath: 10th, and I’ve got a link to it on the Facebook page. I hope you have a chance to read that. It’s a brief summary but it really highlights in that an amazing life and some of that dedicated her time and energies to the people that she cared about in the community that she loved now. There’s something you won’t see in that article and it’s something that I learned recently when I was speaking to G9 Frank the president of the Menlo Park neighborhood that interviews going to be released in a couple of weeks, but I was talking about the impact of the streetcar and how its had some certain impacts on the footprint the west side of the freeway and I asked him how how this came to be. What was the what was the rationale of moving the streetcar and he said without question the first things that he pointed to was the efforts of Lillian Lopez Grant. She was instrumental in making sure that the streetcar went west of I-10 now as I understand it early on in the discussions of the streetcar route. It was

Tom Heath: going to be a downtown you of a that kind of connection it made sense, but there really wasn’t much talk of moving it beyond the freeway. and to Lopez Grant this was this was a challenge for her that it seemed we were so close but taking away an opportunity from those in Menlo Park to benefit from the economic impact but also the connection to the rest of the world at least through the streetcar route by pulling that west of the freeway putting the Terminus right near the Mercado Saint Augustine it connects Menlo Park through downtown 4th Avenue main gate and the U of A. All of that now is connected and so the residents of Menlo Park are able to To enjoy that but it also brought people west of the freeway to enjoy what was there and that’s led to a very diverse neighborhood a very diverse. Economic structure and it’s working. Well, there’s a very harmonious Synergy going on in that community of ways to continue to improve. And I don’t think that that same result would have been there had the

Tom Heath: streetcar not been polled west of the freeway and there’s no doubt that some of these plans for the Mercado San Agustin, even the area were probably in place and working but the movement of the streetcar bringing it over certainly help them with their development help them attract people to that area and we’re going to dig deeper into this concept of the layering of the impact of the streetcar and the different things that come as a result of it being a part of your neighborhood. But I can assure you that the direct and indirect impacts of her efforts to bring the streetcar to Menlo Park. They’re going to be enormous just like the other the other major points of her life. Lillian

Tom Heath: Lopez Grant it’s an amazing amazing 77 years, and I know an entire Community myself included are very grateful for your for your efforts. My

Tom Heath: name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar on downtown Tucson radio. Yours Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria at Broadway and Country Club has won numerous accolades for their pizzas and wings now finally open on Sunday starting at noon. Rocco’s also offers daily lunch specials industry night Wednesdays and a killer happy hour throughout the week. You’re invited to join the Rocco’s crew for over 18 years of serving up homemade grub Chicago-style at 2707 East Broadway or call them for take out a three two, one one eight six zero. Well last week if you were listening to the show, we talked to Margo cesco. She’s a shop owner in downtown for over two decades and the first part of the interview she described her challenges with the streetcar when it was announced in the route was laid out as she put it she feared for her business. She feared for her livelihood and her SOS was to put signs in her window to publicly call out the City of Tucson for not communicating better with

Tom Heath: the merchants. That along with other other activities, of course led to a dialogue about the streetcar where it was going to go how it was going to be implemented in the conversation. I think strengthen the relationship between neighborhoods between the merchants and the city officials that conversation has led her to believe that the future is bright because of the streetcar she ended the interview talking about the things that can come as a result of the streetcar, but she stressed that it has to be built upon communication and working together. Earlier this week as I mentioned. I spoke to G9 Frank from the Menlo Park neighborhood association. And I also had a chance to speak with Ivan Marquez a board member of the real way of a district and those conversations highlighted tremendous growth and economic development here in the area. But it also underscored the conversations were very clear that there was a need to incorporate multiple perspectives in this process. This is not something that

Tom Heath: can be done unilaterally if it’s going to be done successfully now both of those interviews for Marquez line Frank. Will Air in November, but today I wanted to talk something about the bring some concept of brings those two ideas together. It’s a new development here in downtown Tucson that really has the economic impact and is built on a collaborative nature. And so we’re going to spend a few minutes with downtown’s first new hotel and 40 years and I had a chance to sit down with the general manager of the AC hotel Tucson downtown Grant Bruce. the hotel sits among a host of locally owned small businesses. It’s a very interesting juxtaposition to see the the AC the Marriott name along with our locally owned businesses. I came to find out that the AC Hotel downtown is locally owned. But I also found out some very exciting things about the collaborative nature of the AC brand in general and why it was so attractive to the owners bringing it to Tucson. So Grant Bruce and I sat down in the lobby,

Tom Heath: so I’m a busy Friday evening and he shared the history and philosophy of how this hotel came to be in downtown Tucson. So

Tom Heath: one thing that I was impressed with from Grant. That he is a young man that really has traveled the world. He’s been in several cities Vegas Chicago and he said the Tucson was his favorite I think partly because it has a job. But I also think it’s because he’s he’s got some excitement about being in Tucson and what it has to offer. So let’s hear what Grant Bruce has to say about the AC Hotel

Speaker 1: answer Antonio Catalan. He is the founder and CEO of the AC brand he started the brand in early 2000 and it started off as a Spanish hotel where he grew it within the first couple of years to over twenty five hotels in 2011. He made a partnership with Marriott because he wanted to continue to grow it rapidly initially. The brand was only be a European brand and Marriott was going to come in and give this this support and this guidance to help grow it specifically in Europe, but when the American investor Hotel investor and started seeing and learning about this brand it was like hands down everyone wanted it. So when you look at it from a couple different categories standpoint one from an owner standpoint from a return on investment, it’s a select service hotels. So yes, there is an initial investment to it, but you’re not running, you know, three or four restaurants, you’re not running all these extra amenities golf courses Spas, so it makes it attractive. Because it’s not as big of an investment

Grant Bruce: to get into it this book specifically for this particular brand. Is it once you to showcase the local community? And so it really focuses on on that for the towns that have been selected and it’s a very modern Timeless design. So it’s also another attractive piece from a an investor owner standpoint is because you don’t have to worry about changing your hotel. Look every seven years, you know, the one thing that we always like to point out when we’re giving tours of our guest rooms as we have a European Square toilet. So if you’ve never been to Europe and want to see a square toilet come in come see it as far as the design and Decor there’s not a standard from an aesthetic standpoint just a philosophy and the thought behind it. So they want it to be very modern very clean lines. They wanted to you know, showcase local artists. So our property is going to look much different. Then even the one in Tempe but very much different than the one in in Europe. However our guest rooms you’re going to

Speaker 1: see a lot of the similar feel and touch throughout the space when you talk with Grant you get the sense that he is excited to be a part of the AC hotel and he’s very proud to be bringing this concept to Tucson, but he’s equally excited and proud about the fact he’s sharing Tucson with the guests of the hotel. It’s a requirement but we’ve tried to take it to the next level you were supposed to have local Spirits like double Bock. We have three Wells we have Borderlands beer which is just downtown. We have Barrio untap we have the new winery that just came downtown the San reckoner out of Wilcox. So we have them on tap. It’s extremely important that we are able to showcase our local partners. Although originally designed for a European audience. The AC hotel is certainly getting traction. The United States in Tucson is just one of several cities that are finding a new hotel in their Community. We just open our 25th in the last five years. We’re going to continue to see more but they’re very selective

Speaker 1: on the towns and the cities that they go in because they want it to be the right fit before any one of these hotels has been placed in a city they’ve done significant research. They’ve ruled out cities that don’t fit within the model. They don’t feel as a good collaboration between the community and the hotel and so I wanted to find out from Grant what it was about Tucson and specifically being downtown that made us such an attractive location with the growth that’s happening downtown the culture the history the Arts, you know, some of the top music venues in the city, you know, we’ve continued to be recognized, you know year after year for that. It was a perfect alignment with what they see brand represents the Team of community social responsibility technology entrepreneurship all working in a collaborative environment resonates very well with Millennials and they see Hotel itself seems to be geared towards that Millennial audience. It can be for anyone but when you think about a millennial you

Speaker 1: think about having things as simplistic as possible removing everything that they don’t want or need and only keeping what you must and so you’ll see that throughout our space, you know, it’s really meant to be geared towards that entrepreneur that can work remotely that loves to be high tech High connected. So when you come into our lobby, you can plug-in you can have meetings by the day and by the time you know the evening transition into a networking socializing event and going back up to your room where you can write off your TV, you have your Netflix or Hulu you can tap right into that the millennial mindset also what they found in traveling is they don’t want to just stay at a resort. They want to go out they want to Or they want to see what’s happening in that Community where they’re at. And so with us being in the heart of downtown with 40 local restaurants and bars. It’s perfect fit for that Tucson has not seen a new hotel constructed in the downtown area for decades. And now that the

Speaker 1: doors are open. I was curious as to what kind of reception they were receiving from the local community. We’ve been embraced with open arms from every single person. It’s been amazing all the local local shops all the local restaurants. I think I think they love the fact that we are we do have the Marriott name on our building but we’re also locally owned and managed. I think that’s the essence of Tucson. And so we have a big corporate name with Marriott that’s behind us giving us that support but we’re doing it in a local Tucson way and that’s really important because the amount of people that will come visit us and stay at our property with us having a Marriott name are light years ahead of what A single named Boutique property would bring and according to Grant it’s not just the local community that’s excited that the doors are open. They’ve actually had a very strong first month of business. We’ve been open for four weeks now and we are just coming through a stretch where we’ve been over

Speaker 1: 90% occupancy for the last 10 days and we’re going to be finishing that off over the next ten days of the month with a high occupancy as well. We’ve already been sold out for parents weekend were sold out this weekend were sold out for homecoming we’re getting amazing reception from you know, the downtown Partners the the corporations that are coming here. They can walk to the TTC now which has been huge we’ve had more people in the last three weeks saying that they have meetings at TCC and can walk there then I think anyone’s ever anticipated. So it’s been a huge need and we’re seeing that already within our first four weeks and as we wrapped up the conversation, I really wanted to get a sense from Grant as to how impactful the streetcar has. Is it incorporated into the hotel and is it being used by its guests going out and trying to sell the hotel educating our future guests on what they see is about one of the biggest selling points for me and my sales team has been the fact that we are

Speaker 1: on the streetcar so many large Urban environments. They all have public transit we can we can offer that with our streetcar parents weekend alone and we had more parents just beyond excited that they can hop on the streetcar go to the campus. Stop long forth and just embrace all that Tucson has to offer without having to get in the car and drive everywhere and we recommend to every single guest to jump on the streetcar and to just see what downtown has to offer. It’s fun. I mean, there’s so many amazing local experiences that you can have along the streetcar and it’s been a huge I actually spent a lot of fun. That’s the foot that way.

Tom Heath: I really enjoy talking with Grant. I got a great sense of this collaborative spirit. And you know, I mean I’m excited about these Concepts that are really evolving of inclusiveness. We’ll talk more about this as we get into development and starting to talk with some of the neighborhoods as well. You’re listening to Life along the streetcar in downtown Tucson radio. My name is Tom Heath and I am grateful to be your host. Now and it’s brand-new home at Speedway in Columbus. The prime Leaf has a friendly knowledgeable staff that is eager to help you find the medicine that fits your needs their new location features additional parking and expanded product selection handicap accessibility call had Express ordering and more. We encourage you to visit their website at the prime and follow them on social media to learn about their higher Rewards program. In other options that we think you’ll want to know about. You can also stop by their store at 4220 e Speedway to see firsthand with the new

Tom Heath: Prime Leaf has to offer you know, we let off this show talking about someone who spent a lot of her time as a volunteer as an organizer and I want to salute all of those that that spend their time to make this a make this a positive place to be there were hundreds of tucsonans that to spent their time yesterday at the TCC volunteering for Hope Fest and there were hundreds of people that made donations on Friday to Hope Fest now, if you’re not familiar hope Fest is an event which pulls together faith-based and Community organizations with government entities Social Services organizations, and they have been operating for about 24 years. But this is the first year that they moved to the TCC and the the the people that there are trying to help are those who struggle with homelessness or are just in need of basic necessities to survive. And so they put on this really one day mega event with the hope that they can attract those that need the help and provide them with longer-term Solutions. Hope

Tom Heath: fusses been providing Services simple things such as groceries clothing haircuts. They have hygiene products and other personal items volunteers from the medical profession. Come out to run various tests that are necessary measure vital signs, but a big part of the day success historically has been the opportunity for Community Services to to get together as providers with those that are in need of their services. This connection is critical so that they can provide ongoing Aftercare and so it takes hundreds of people to put that on. I for one appreciate that they would take their their their time and energy to help make to son a better place. And then this morning I’d like to thank those that volunteered for the TMC get moving event downtown. There were half marathoners 5K Ayers there even kids running in costumes around downtown the event raised awareness about physical activity and it also raised funds for local organizations including Cox Charities team white, Arizona and the Tucson Symphony

Tom Heath: Orchestra. My name is Tom Heath. You’re listening to Life along the streetcar on downtown Tucson radio. I’m

Tom Heath: Eric Hauck from American rock

Speaker 1: band Portugal the Man and I’m here to tell you that it can be difficult getting back to work or finding a job at all following an injury or living with a disability. That’s where I’m TI comes in and he I is the leader and getting

Tom Heath: disabled Americans back to work. If you’re having a hard time finding a job or know someone that is contact MPI MTI Central dot org or hit them up on the phone at eight seven. Seven two four eight eight nine. One two, As

Tom Heath: always we greatly appreciate your support of the underwriters that make this station possible a next week. I’m kind of excited about this guest we going to have we’re gonna have Jason Lavallee the board president and program director for Downtown Radio. We’re going to answer some questions as to why Tucson needed another radio station. And why do we focus and dedicate some time on Mental Health Services may be interesting lie, what we’ll find out what’s happening in the future and I think the cures plan that the question I’ve got is is how is his plan for world domination coming along? I don’t think you’re gonna want to miss this show. It’s next Sunday at 11:30 Life along the streetcar. And in case you’re wondering what’s in store for November, we’re talking about Economic Development with Rio Nuevo the concerns and opportunities of the neighborhood’s involved with that development. We’re gonna have a fun look with the Presidio Tucson Museum and we’re going to try to put some meaning behind that

Tom Heath: turquoise line that runs around downtown and those oddly placed blue parking meters. You probably saw on the news that two sons getting a bike share program and we’re going to talk about that and maybe how that incorporates with the streetcar and has the opportunity to move. Move your little bit farther along with the streetcar. It’s really been a great October. I’m excited about the direction in which we’re heading and I really invite you to continue to reach out with your ideas and your questions tell us who you know, and where you go and the other things about life along the streetcar that we really should know. You can always email us contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org hit us up on Facebook Life along the streetcar. On our Facebook page today, they’ll be a link to the Arizona Daily Star article. For Lillian Lopez Grant and I invite you really to take a look at that. We’re going to exit the show today with a straw with a song appropriately called Streetcar. From the other side. My

Tom Heath: name is Tom Heath. You’ve been listening to Life along the streetcar on downtown Tucson radio.

This page provided by The Heath Team at Nova Home Loans®

Tom Heath - Senior Loan Officer with Nova Home Loans