Tony Davis | Arizona Daily Star

This area west of the Santa Cruz River, which holds two old landfills, has long been the target of development.
This area west of the Santa Cruz River, which holds two old landfills, has long been the target of development.

Drive down Cushing Street just west of the Santa Cruz River, look south, and you’ll see plenty of bare dirt covered with a few spare desert shrubs.

This is Tucson’s land of broken dreams, a place where study after study and committee after committee have looked for decades at possible development to turn the west side into a magnet for tourists, culture lovers and shoppers. But little happened, and most plans sat on the shelf.

Now, a consultant hired by the city is looking at the potential for cleaning up one of the area’s biggest lingering problems — two municipal garbage landfills dating to the 1950s — and turning an eyesore into an asset.

IRG LLC of Denver will spend about 10 weeks evaluating the costs and benefits of making 27 acres of this property habitable for development, as well as the merits of development itself.

Part of this property, bordered by Cushing on the north and Mission Lane on the south, is supposed to be the site of the Tucson Origins Heritage Park. That’s a longtime centerpiece of this area’s redevelopment hopes that has been largely stillborn since about 2008 due to lack of funds in the Great Recession and its aftermath.

Officials are hoping for some kind of private, “mixed-use” development of homes and businesses on the rest of the site.

The Denver consultants will return with recommendations to neighbors, city staff and the City Council. The council along with possible future private investors would make the ultimate decision on the area’s fate. Read more