Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?”
For many Tucsonans, when it comes to the name Rio Nuevo, the answer is bureaucratic bumbling and squandered money.
Those negative connotations continue to haunt the current board to the point where some believe the name itself has stood in the way of progress.
“Rio Nuevo has a colorful past, and not all of it is positive,” said Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker. “It’s really hard to be drug around by the legacy of some the actions of our predecessors.”
So to get out from under the yoke of past misdeeds, the board is toying with a name change.
“We believe we deserve a new chance, and a name change might be part of it,” McCusker said during Thursday afternoon’s meeting. “You may see us called something else in the future.”
The board instructed its attorney to look into the legalities of an official name change and report back during a future meeting.
Speaking of the past
The board also settled a 2011 lawsuit for $250,000 with a former contractor who did work on the Tucson Convention Center.
Texas-based Garfield Traub was seeking around $1.7 million in damages from the district over a breach of contract and defamation by two former board members.
At issue were the final payments in an $18.3 million agreement, which included design work for a new hotel and construction costs for the new east entrance at the Tucson Convention Center.
The lawsuit named then-Rio Nuevo members Jodi Bain and Jonathan Paton personally for what the company asserted were defamatory comments they made to Tucson media about the matter.
Rio Nuevo attorney Mark Collins said the amount the district settled for is what it would have spent on attorneys if the suit had gone to trial.
The board took a few steps forward Thursday on its $7.8 million TCC remodeling project.
First, the board unanimously approved hiring a general contractor for the construction phase. The board will accept applications to determine qualifications and experience. Once a candidate is chosen, a contract will be presented to the board for approval.
The board also approved contracts totaling around $100,000 with two firms for printing and electrical engineering work.
McCusker said the TCC project, along with the downtown hotel and other projects, may be in the nascent stages, but they are promising signs.
“It’s nice to be out of the courtroom and in the development business,” McCusker said.