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

This week, we’re going to interview Steve Kozachik. He’s a Tucson City Council member – Ward 6 – which is predominantly the geographic area of our show’s footprint and we’re going to discuss a wide range of topics with the council member.

Today is July 11th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

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 DowntownRadio.org– we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.

Reach us by email contact@lifealongthestreetcar.org — interact with us on Facebook @Life Along the Streetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife

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The Future of Ward 6 with Steve Kozachik

Our guest today is council member Steve Kozachik, and I think he will echo some of those same sentiments. He is the council member of Ward 6, which geographically is a good chunk of our ‘shows footprint, most of downtown, 4th Avenue and Main Gate. Thought it’d be a good idea to catch up with him and talk about some of the impacts happening as we head out of covid-19, and what we can expect here in the near future.

Transcript

Tom Heath
Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo and you’re listening to KTDT Tucson. Thank you’re spending part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station.

Tom Heath
This week, we’re going to interview Steve Kozachik. He’s a Tucson City Council member – Ward 6 – which is predominantly the geographic area of our show’s footprint and we’re going to discuss a wide range of topics with the council member.

Tom Heath
Today is July 11th. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar.

Tom Heath
Each and every Sunday or focuses on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s, Urban core. And we shed light on hidden gems. Everyone should know about form a mountain to you Arizona and all stops in between. You get the inside track right here on 89.1 FM. Streaming on Downtown Radio dot org and available on your iPhone or Android. Just simply download the Downtown Radio Tucson app.

Tom Heath
If you want to track us here on the show, we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Our Website is Life along the streetcar dot org. That hosts all of our shows, you can reach us with a email of contact at that URL and you’ll find us anywhere you find your favorite podcasts, including by asking your smart speaker to play Life Along the Streetcar podcast.

Tom Heath
We’re going to start today with a little news for some input. The downtown Tucson partnership is in the midst of a strategic planning session and they have reached out to a variety of stakeholders for input on which direction downtown should go.

Tom Heath
And one of those key stakeholders as you are looking for public feedback, whether you live work play and downtown or whether you just have thoughts about downtown and it’s role over the next five years. You can head over to their website, downtown Tucson. Org. And there is a link there in order to take that survey, and I encourage you to share your voice and share your opinions about the future. Because even if you’re not directly connected with downtownthe vitality of a downtown is proven time and time again to be the heartbeat of a strong community.

Tom Heath
And you don’t have to just take my word for it. Our guest today is council member Steve Kozachik, and I think he will echo some of those same sentiments. He is the council member of Ward 6, which geographically is a good chunk of our ‘shows footprint, most of downtown, 4th Avenue and Main Gate. Thought it’d be a good idea to catch up with him and talk about some of the impacts happening as we head out of covid-19, and what we can expect here in the near future.

Steve Kozachik
Downtown is a significant chunk of Ward 6. It’s a significant chunk of the region, every successful metropolitan area in the in, the nation is reliant on having a successful downtown and then the and then the development that’s in the success kind of escalates out in concentric circles. So when I started doing this in 2009, we were right in the middle of at the tail end of a recession, downtown was pretty dormant. We do have this streetcar. But we at the time we did not have any development we’ve since then put in a series of north of 20 development incentives that, at the time we implemented them, The Lending institutions were were saying not so fast. We’re in a recession. And so we need to see some public sector skin in the game before we start learning to private investors. We did that. Since that time, we’ve had over 500 million dollars of private sector. Dollars going to downtown in the surrounding area and the success is pretty evident for anybody who who takes a before and after picture of what’s happening in and around downtown.

Tom Heath
And I think not just in the actual development but sort of in the mindset because I know I’ve been I’ve been in Tucson for 25 plus years and there’s always been sort of this understanding that the city, the county and all these different municipalities and always play well together. But right now, with with Rio Nuevo, the city, the county, even the state It seems like there’s a concerted effort to put the needs of Tucson and downtown forward, so it’s good to see again.

Steve Kozachik
Yeah, nobody benefits When the two major governing bodies in the region are fighting, that’s the city in the county and if you add on to that, what historically was a very bad situation with respect to Rio Nuevo, then then the entire region loses. When I started doing Um, this ten years ago, we had Rio Nuevo board that at the time was under investigation, and properly so, from the state auditor general. The auditor general issued, a report, the said, the City of Tucson was way too deeply. The government City of Tucson, there’s way too deeply involved in the development, activities of the real board. And the projects that they were picking, were not generating sales, tax revenue. They were a lot of a lot of money. Spent on plans that never came to fruition.

Steve Kozachik
We now have a written or a billboard that with Fletcher mccusker, Danny Cox marker of and Chris chief justice. And that, that is really got their act together. They understand development, the understand the real estate and community, and then, understand Finance. The city now is a partner with them as opposed to having trying to taken control which was never the intent legislatively of that. Taxing district and the same is true, with the county, the county and the city are working together, productively and Rihanna weibo is really an important part of the downtown Redevelopment. Even extending out. Now down Broadway in the sunshine mile. Lot of people think the Rio Nuevo District ends it downtown. It actually goes all the way out, Broadway to Wilmont.

Steve Kozachik
So, we’ve got a good good set of players at the table. Now, we also have a downtown Tucson partnership with Kathleen. Erickson, who is really bringing a lot onto the In terms of advocacy for our businesses downtown, the merchants Council. And so I think we’ve got, you know, I’ll pull in the same direction now and everyone’s kind of staying in their lanes and supportive of the efforts of everybody else because everyone benefits as the as the downtown core successfully developed.

Tom Heath
And and if those listening aren’t familiar, Ward six also than you know as far as the footprint of The Show Goes Up 4th Avenue, it includes the university. So you’ve got a lot of economic drivers with in ward 6.

Steve Kozachik
Yeah the main gate area we’ve gained McCullum or were in constant communication with her and the Marshal foundation for main gate. Daniel Malak running the Fourth Avenue, Merchants Association now and as well, Kathleen down to, in the downtown Tucson partnership, the real board, the Rio district is really circumscribed around downtown and then going east, it does not touch Sama and the main gate District. But we have other incentive packages in place that we’re there were using to help with a Redevelopment there.

Steve Kozachik
Now, each one of them, each of those entertainment districts has its own flavor. There’s a lot of franchise stuff going on around around campus and so Jane’s Got her, got her arms around that development, much, much different along the Avenue, where we’re trying to keep it sort of the Fourth Avenue character, and maintain that. And then in the downtown core, it’s a mix of residential and Commercial and the entertainment function as well. And we’ve we’re seeing some some recent developments with the herb Stratford and some Investments he’s made in commentator.

Steve Kozachik
We’ve got the fox. We’ve got the Rialto, you know, we can. So we’ve got a lot of entertainment things happening downtown. In addition to that time, you’re going to see some pretty significant changes happening in and around the TCC. The Rio Nuevo board has put over 60 million dollars into the Tucson Convention Center, and their partnership with visit Tucson and Brent. Dennis the with the, with a visit Tucson Outreach team is going to bring some pretty significant entertainment, back into the convention center that the frankly was lacking during covid and so we’re hoping to, you know, hoping to see a lot of positive activity going forward as we sort of dig our way out of the last Te last year in the, the pandemic.

Tom Heath
If you haven’t been downtown recently. Go by the convention center, the hotel down there is open and it’s honest-to-goodness Convention Center Hotel. You can go into the bar and go right into the convention center from there and, I had the dinner there not too long ago and the Tucson Chef that they brought in and just absolutely knocked it out of the park. So it’s a great experience and you’ll see the parking is changed. There’s parking structures up, parking structures going up. It’s quite that that investment that you’re Talking about is already evident.

Steve Kozachik
They’ve done a lot of positive in it around the TCC. They’ve also have also had an eye on preserving some of the historic landscape. We’ve got some money going into the Music Hall until Leo Rich. You’ve got the La Placita project that’s going up the Flynn as well. And you mentioned the hotel circling back to 2009. When I started doing this at that time, the city of to Ison was about to get in bed with a group called Garfield Traub and the notion was to sink over 200 million dollars into a single downtown convention, center hotel. That the City of Tucson would have backstop the debt on my point at the time was that we ought to be swinging for singles and doubles and trying to swing for the fence in one and you know, one Fell Swoop and we stopped that hotel and I’m glad that we did because at the time those Mega convention hotels, were driving, local jurisdictions, who backstopped them, into some pretty finish, their serious Financial holes back. The City of Phoenix is still trying to offload one that they did at the same time.

Steve Kozachik
Instead of that, we’ve seen the AC, we’ve seen the one by the Convention Center Hotel. We’ve now, got three or four hotels that are going up, that are a variety of price points that are not the full service with their service, that is required for the guests. But But also, to encourage them to go out into the surrounding area in downtown, patronized the local businesses, go to the restaurants, go and go in and enjoy the entertainment. And don’t just come to Tucson and sit in your room for four days. So, I think that we’ve done it right. These are privately funded hotels as opposed to the city backstopping bonds. And so we’ve got some significant investment that really is Off. And and the local businesses are going to be the beneficiaries is over time and as I say, as soon as we start to pull ourselves out of the Foley out of the pandemic,

Tom Heath
A lot of new stuff happening, but I want to go Circle back to something you touched on, because I just learned about this of something old happening in the Barrio with Teatro Carmen and that’s undergoing revitalization. You said with the group that worked on the Fox?

Steve Kozachik
Yeah, Herb Stratford has been around forever and he’s he’s kind of Dabbled in entertainment. He for a time was over at the fox was involved in there there, revitalization of the Fox Theater, he stayed active in the local film and entertainment business industry. You know, he’s helped with the film festival every year and kept that running. And just recently, he finished getting some loans to go into the Teatro Carmen and do a revitalization of it. And it’s not just the Link is that entire corner? So he’s going to have what is now a vacant lot. It’ll be space for some outdoor activities and and inside the theater it’s going to be a variety of live entertainment plays music and and that kind of thing with some flexible seating options. And so, he’ll be able to see it up to about 300 people in it.

Steve Kozachik
So it’s not going to be a direct competitor with say, for instance, real Lich Leo Rich or the The the Music Hall. Those are much different kinds of venues, and it’s being right across the street, though, rom the hotel, he’s going to be able to benefit from, you know, some of the some of the guests there who want to come into Tucson and and see something more reflective and representative of the of the local culture in the history history of the area. So I think he he timed it well from a standpoint of going in. Now, while the market is the way it is, He’ll be able to get some loans, whereas you’re so going may not have. And when he comes out of this that and I think it’s going to, it’s going to be a real positive, a manatee to a lot of the cultural entertainment elements that are in the downtown core.

Tom Heath
We’ll be back with our interview with council member Steve Kozachik injust a moment. And I want to remind you. First of all, that you are listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio Dot org.

Tom Heath
Well, right before the break, we heard about a cool Resurgence project down in the Barrio. And we’re going to finish up our interview here with council member Steve Kozachik, talking about what to expect as we come out of covid and what are some things he foresees happening in ward 6 in the future.

Tom Heath
Your office, the city, the county everyone has been stepping up to try to help small businesses, get through this. And I happen to see me do because I’m on the downtown merchants and Retail Council. I happen to see some of the work that you’re doing directly with with the merchants. But can you talk a little bit about downtown 4th Avenue main gate, sort of what’s the feel right now from covid? Are we coming out of it? What’s the future look like short-term long-term?

Steve Kozachik
I want to give kudos to In particular, in this case, the county who dared the public health authority, they have really helped to navigate through this. I know that there was a lot of consternation, a lot of pushback from particular, some of the bar owners who did not like the shutdown, but, but remember rewind rewind. Your mental tape to September October November of last fall when the State of Arizona was the number one hot spot. Not, not just in the country, but in the world for covid, we were looking at our intensive care units are hospitals. At overcapacity, our health care workers, were working multiple shifts a day and just getting burnt out. So, we have advanced the conversation, obviously, since then, the covid is hopefully on the downswing, although I will say that in the last few weeks we’ve seen the Delta variant pop up in Arizona and in Pima County so everyone’s sort of guarded right now, we have seen significant investment by Pima County in the downtown core. They came up with about a half million dollars through the county to help the downtown Merchants I worked with can last year from the county and we did the same thing over with the Fourth Avenue. Merchants the city used some cares dollars for for rent. And utility assistance for merchants both downtown and on 4th Avenue and over in main gate. So and the counties did the same. So I think everybody recognized that, if everyone was kind of left to their own during the middle of a shutdown, the economy would collapse and so we each individually the city and the county and ran away book to their credit as well. They threw a million dollars into downtown as well to help downtown Merchants make it through and pay their bills.

Steve Kozachik
As we were kind of saying at the beginning, that the city, the county and Rio working together to make to maintain the economic vibrancy in downtown. We’re seeing that now too and we’re seeing the results of that, you know, they were those were one-time dollars. They were federal dollars but they were necessary Investments to keep the local businesses from just collapsing, under the weight of the shutdown, that was driven by:. I am hopeful. Absolutely hopeful that we don’t see this Resurgence with the Delta variant. We are only right now at 53% fully vaccinated in Pima County right now and that means we’re half of us aren’t vaccinated and that you know that that’s just not a good a good Harbinger for for moving forward if we’re just going to open up and you know schools schools going to be back in session here. Soon, the governor just passed a, an executive order that Prohibits the University from mandating vaccinations. So in addition to the 43 percent of forty seven percent that we don’t have vaccinated, we’re going to have kids flying back into town in a month or a month and a half and we don’t know what their vaccinations conditions going to be.

Steve Kozachik
So right now we’re I’m hopeful guardedly and yet we can’t take our Eye Off the Ball. I mean that you know that the reality is is that everyone saying this Delta Is more contagious. And the impact is more severe than the garden-variety covid-19 was. And that was pretty bad. So, I’m hopeful, but I wish that we hadn’t had that mandate imposed by the governor that said people that the university can’t mandate vaccines because I was and continue to be an advocate for that at the University. Say, if you’re coming back into the community, make sure you’re protected because you have an obligation to the rest of the residents and the community to do so

Tom Heath
Well, University not just from the student standpoint, but the events that they hold their, is there any sensor has there been a conversation about how things like the Tucson Festival of books if they’re, if they’re going to be returning and what that would look like as there, been any conversations around that?

Steve Kozachik
aHave not been yet, are no 4th Avenue. Merchants are try are in the very early conversations about the Fall Street fair, but I believe they cancelled. Maybe maybe, you know, I think the I think, They were heading in that direction. And you know, the as you mentioned, the Festival of books, the I know that the U of A athletics department. Has announced they’re going to be open for full capacity in each of their stadiums and Arenas. So that, you know, that’s going to be crowds coming into town but and the the events that the TCC are still limited capacity. But again, everyone’s kind of got their eye on this thinking, You know, we don’t want to jump back in and then have to, you know, slam our foot on the brakes again because that just from a standpoint of the economy that is jars everything. So if we can continue to sort of moderately inch our way back into this thing, without overshooting, the mark, then I think that that’s probably the more prudent way to go.

Steve Kozachik
I don’t know the answer to your question about Festival books, but at some point, pretty soon, they’re going to have to fish or cut bait. The same thing with the gem show, we push. Gem show out because that we can push them out that we extended the date to spring because they got to the point where they had to make commitments to International International displays and they know these kinds of a shows, the exhibits, they couldn’t make the commitment. I was talking to one of the, a GTA folks out over in Texas to about whether or not Not I could coach guarantee them that they’d have a, you know, unfettered unfettered access to the TCC and all that. And at the time I said, you know, I don’t have a crystal ball either. And if discretion is the better, part of valor, is probably make a wise investment to, to give it a little bit of a delay. And let’s, let’s, let’s see what happens over time.

Tom Heath
Well, a lot of the information were we’re talking with you today about is in your Weekly Newsletter, which is pretty extensive each time, it comes out and we’re not going to be Cover all the topics but certainly invite you to to sign up for that because you be surprised. Some of the things that falls within Ward 6. I was reading about Supreme Court, decisions and student-athletes and so everything is encompassed in yours. But you did mention in a recent news letter about a survey that the ward had done and then there’s a series of follow-ups from that. It did you want to talk a little bit about that as we sort of wrap?

Steve Kozachik
Sure. Sure. We, we did a survey of just Ward 6 residents, we send out postcards and with a survey on link on it. And I’m very, very pleased to that. We got over 800 people respond to the survey and that’s pretty unprecedented when the city went out and did their budget surveys and we had about a hundred and thirty people, take part in the budget process, so to have over 800 residents in Ward six. Take part in the survey was, was gratifying and Frankly, I’m not entirely surprised because we have some very active residents in ward 6 and regular contact with them. So I know that they’re they’re engaged the survey results indicated that some of the primary issues of concern for Ward. Six residents at the top of the list is water security and the pfos contamination that we’re seeing out by the Davis-Monthan, just south of our Central. Well field. That’s number One.

Steve Kozachik
We have a very very active interest in climate issues, very active interest in the rollout of the 5G cell antennas throughout the residential areas and primarily in ward 6 right now that’s for Verizon and AT&T and focused to begin with. So we’re going to do as you mentioned a series of follow-ups do to talk about the results of the survey. So the 8th is the next is the first one and then the two after that or the 20th and 27th, and what we’re doing. Doing is we’re going to break them down into categories. And so the first one is going to be talking about water security, the environment and we’ll talk about local business will talk about public safety and so we’ll catch each of the areas of the survey so that people can have an opportunity tune in for all of them or just pick up just cherry-pick the the issues that are more more interesting to them.

Tom Heath
Well, Steve Kozachik councilmember Ward 6 heavily involved with our Urban core. I know, you are extremely busy and I appreciate you spending some time with us today and I look forward to to the updates and I share your cautious optimism. As we pull through this, and hope we continue forward with our post, pandemic development,

Steve Kozachik
Absolutely perfect. And I appreciate the invitation Tom.

Tom Heath
That was our Ward six council member Steve because I check talking a little bit about what’s happening in his Ward, which Covers a vast majority of the footprint of our show will be back in just a moment. My name is Tom Heath. You’re listening to Life along the streetcar in downtown radio 98.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio dot org.

Tom Heath
Well we are wrapping up here episode number 159 making our way up the list there. Those numbers kind of exciting to have those many shows behind us all of which, you can hear on Life along the streetcar dot org or anywhere. Are you find podcast? We’ve done a good job of getting this out there as much as we can. You can find us on Facebook and pretty proud of our Instagram page that is starting to gain some traction and happy to say. We’ve got some pretty darn good photos of our Urban core on there.

Tom Heath
If you ever have a topic for us to share, why don’t you reach out to us on social media? Hit us up. Maybe give us a like, or share comment on something we should be discussing. You can email us contact. Life along the streetcar dot-org, tell us what you know help us uncover. These hidden gems that we need to share with the world.

Tom Heath
Episode 159. And honestly I mean sure we’ve scratched the surface of how cool this stretch of Tucson is from a mountain to the University of Arizona. And next week we’ll dive a little bit more deeply into the downtown portion. We’re going to have Zac Baker from the downtown Tucson partnership. We’ve got some questions for him about the recent announcement of quite a large sum of money coming from Federal government into the downtown district for post covid and covid relief efforts. Also, as you heard at the top of the broadcast, we have news of a survey that they are asking for public input, so that they can work on their five-year, strategic plan, will get all that info and a lot more from Zac next weekm Right here on 98.1 FM.

Tom Heath
Eo enjoy your week, and do tune in next Sunday for more Life along the streetcar, but in the meantime and honor of Our Guest today, Steve Kozachik who is known to be running all over Tucson. We’re going to leave you a little music from a group called the teddy bears and Marathon Man.

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Tom Heath - Senior Loan Officer with Nova Home Loans
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