Even with months of modern streetcar track construction still to come, new businesses are opening along North Fourth Avenue.
Posh Petals, a florist specializing in weddings, is relocating from North First Avenue to the historic Tophoy Building near the Fourth Avenue Underpass.
The five-year-old special-events business has already begun operating out of its new 224 N. Fourth Ave. address, and a grand opening of the florist's retail business is slated for Aug. 1.
"I love that they're making (downtown) a place you want to be," said Katie Treat, the company's owner. "(The streetcar) will get constructed, and then we'll move on. It really doesn't seem to be slowing anyone down."
Treat plans to continue doing special events while running the storefront space. She will sell an array of flowers as well as coffee and cupcakes baked by her mother, Jayne Maxfield-Rossi, owner of Ambrosia of Tucson wedding cakes and Mini's Cupcakes. Treat's also planning to hold open-mic nights.
"This is a fun job," Treat said, as a bride and groom dropped off flower containers on their way to the airport for a honeymoon in Tahiti. "I get the coolest brides."
The third generation of her family in the wedding business, Treat sees the new location as a way to further ensure interesting clientele, one of her favorite parts of the job. "It's an arts district. It's where cool people go to have fun," she said.
She was also optimistic that student housing complexes now under construction will plump up walking traffic in front of her store.
Streetcar will be "asset"
Posh Petals is not the only business to open along North Fourth Avenue since construction began in April. Natural Way Wellness Spa opened at 329 E. Seventh St. in mid-April.
The spa's owner, Keri Gabriel, said it just made sense to locate on the avenue, where there are several other stores with an eco-conscious focus.
"(The streetcar) has definitely dampened business, but we're confident that after it's finished, it will be an incredible asset to our business," she said.
The changes on Fourth - even despite detours and torn-up asphalt - reflect a trend citywide, real estate experts say.
"We are seeing more local retailers inquiring about properties and some repositioning themselves to take advantage of good locations being available at favorable lease rates," said Nancy McClure, a commercial real estate broker specializing in retail with CBRE Inc. "This is good to see with many local retailers being reluctant to make moves during the years of the recession."
McClure attributes the recent activity to rising consumer confidence levels. "People are spending more money for goods and services, which then spells a rise in retail sales for our local merchants," she said, noting that national retailers are also increasingly looking at expansions into the Tucson market.
Did you know?
The Tophoy Building on North Fourth Avenue was built in 1926 by Mike Tophoy, whose family owned the property until it was sold to Stephen and Elaine Paul about a decade ago. The building held a variety of businesses, including an ice cream manufacturer and a bike shop.
The storefront that Posh Petals now occupies had been, for the past 26 years, the home of Arroyo Design, owned by the Pauls. That business, now run out of the back of the building along North Hoff Avenue, will close in November, Elaine Paul said.
Contact reporter Carli Brosseau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4197.