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Old 04-10-2014, 12:59 PM
 
187 posts, read 633,842 times
Reputation: 86

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Hi Tucson forum!

Pending my acceptance to the UofA, my wife and I will be moving from Omaha, Neb. to Tucson in the next month or so. I am majoring in Urban Development, and am excited to live in such an interesting city. We are both Arizona natives, and are familiar with areas like Mesa/East Valley and the Gila Valley. However, I have personally never been to Tucson, and had a few questions. The weather and terrain are not issues.

We are both urbanites, and love living in the middle of everything going on. I heard there is a streetcar system being installed? I was super excited to hear that! Are there any interesting, safe neighborhoods close to the campus, or downtown? We would prefer to live in a house or duplex (close to the streetcars), but we can adjust accordingly. We would also be renting. We don't want to live in the suburbs. I have done a little research and found Armory Park and the area around campus interesting.

What is fun to do in Tucson? We both love fine arts, rock concerts, museums and the outdoors. Is downtown Tucson fun or active? We don't drink, so nightlife isn't huge, but we would want amenities such as grocery stores, pharmacies, record stores, etc. in the area. Are there any other historic business districts in the area, or cultural attractions worth seeing?

I'm sure I will think of more questions later as we get closer to moving, but we hope that we enjoy ourselves while I'm attending school.

Thank you!

Josh

Last edited by omahajosh618; 04-10-2014 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 04-10-2014, 03:58 PM
 
Location: Tucson, AZ
612 posts, read 948,686 times
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Basically, based on what you states, you want to live near campus/downtown. That's essentially the only "urban" feeling part of the whole city. It's best to think of Tucson as much smaller than it is on paper, and consider everything outside of the barrio district/downtown/campus area (including Armory Park) to be one giant suburb that you don't really want to bother with.

Record stores ... well - they just opened one in Old Town Artisans. Concerts, you're looking at downtown and 4th avenue primarily. Plush is a great venue. Club Congress is a ****ty venue with a cool vibe that draws some cool acts. The Rialto Theater hosts a lot of the mid-size touring shows. For big shows you'll most often have to head to Phoenix or maybe AVA Amphitheater and occasionally the fairgrounds.

Grocery stores are everywhere in Tucson. It's amazing to me that they can all stay in business, and the downtown area is seeing some cool little markets open up.

I'm moving back real soon. You have to take Tucson for what it is, a cool little town in the middle of a bunch of crappy urban sprawl surrounded by some beautiful nature. Have fun!
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Colorado - Oh, yeah!
833 posts, read 1,634,533 times
Reputation: 1034
Quote:
Originally Posted by omahajosh618 View Post
Hi Tucson forum!

We are both urbanites, and love living in the middle of everything going on. I heard there is a streetcar system being installed? I was super excited to hear that! Are there any interesting, safe neighborhoods close to the campus, or downtown? We would prefer to live in a house or duplex (close to the streetcars), but we can adjust accordingly. We would also be renting. We don't want to live in the suburbs. I have done a little research and found Armory Park and the area around campus interesting.
For an urban experience you want to be around the university or downtown. You can stretch it a little down Speedway or Broadway, but you are still looking within a couple of miles of the U.

As for the streetcar, search the forum for some talk about it. Personally, I wouldn't get too excited, it is roughly 4 miles of track that goes through downtown and through the university. That's it.
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Old 04-13-2014, 01:07 AM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,873 posts, read 15,608,413 times
Reputation: 29200
If you two really are "urbanites" and are moving to Tucson because you "love living in the middle of everything going on," I fear you're in for disappointment. Tucson is not urban. It is a college town surrounded by residential suburbs and countryside. It desires to be nothing more than that. There are only ten employers in Pima County who have more than 1,000 employees and most of them are downsizing, so there is no need for growth and Tucson is already very spread out.

I would worry about what kind of jobs would be available for someone majoring in urban development if you plan to stay here. The downtown re-development project known as Rio Nuevo, highly touted a decade ago, has turned out to be a bust. A few scattered improvements have been finished, but most of the money seems to have disappeared into "studies" that never panned out. Most of the development that goes on in Pima County is from national builders (Pulte, DR Horton, AF Sterling, Piper-Viner) putting up new suburban residential subdivisions. Building of anything other than million-dollar-plus custom vacation homes came to a screeching halt during the recession. There are also a slew of "luxury" apartment dwellings going up in suburban locations, which I assume are aimed at younger residents not willing or able to acquire a mortgage. They draw people in with elaborate exercise facilities, media rooms, and in-complex Starbucks. But I don't think any of those things are what you have in mind.

Prodigal Native accurately described the streetcar. It is basically a shuttle between our small downtown and the university. It's not innovative urban transportation to take people distances like Phoenix's Metro light rail.

Armory Park is a charming, rather upscale neighborhood, within walking distance of campus, but it's very residential and amenities are limited. You would still need a car to go most places. Rentals are also limited there. The most commercial district near the university is the Fourth Avenue area, but it is more filled with college bars, gift shops, and craft arts, rather than fine arts and useful services. There are some active music venues with an emphasis on indie bands and there is one independent movie theater (the Loft Cinema) that shows features other than those you would find in the multiplex. I'm sure you can Google our museums, which are interesting but small and specific.

From the perspectives of urbanity and size, if you are coming from Omaha I'd say you are going from apples to apples. The weather is better here. And there are certainly more opportunities for outdoor activities of every type. Tucson is bike-friendly and the scenery is beautiful.

I'm sure there are people who will say I am being quite a downer. But you say you have never been to Tucson before. And I fear you have some misconceptions about it. You need to visit.
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Old 04-13-2014, 11:47 AM
 
16,045 posts, read 28,332,063 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prodigal Native View Post
For an urban experience you want to be around the university or downtown. You can stretch it a little down Speedway or Broadway, but you are still looking within a couple of miles of the U.

As for the streetcar, search the forum for some talk about it. Personally, I wouldn't get too excited, it is roughly 4 miles of track that goes through downtown and through the university. That's it.

What is sad is that it pretty much duplicated bus routes that are already there.

I like the area just west of the campus (say 1st Ave. and 1st St.). Compared to most large universities in the Midwest, the housing in Tucson is a steal.
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