Revitalization of a City
Nogales, Arizona, is a town on the U.S. – Mexico border with about 20,000 residents and a history steeped in bicultural relations and shared economies. It’s sister city Nogales, Sonora in Mexico is much larger with a metropolitan population of more than 400,000 residents.
The 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border is the most frequently crossed international border in the world, with some 250 million legal crossings a year. Three million of them involve pedestrians crossing at Nogales’ four ports of entry. But many more – as estimated 20 million people a year – cross by car. Those coming from Mexico to the U.S. rarely stop in downtown Nogales, Arizona, opting instead to head to bigbox stores, commercial retail options, and other destinations farther north. As a consequence, the local merchant economy that once flourished in downtown Nogales is now nearly nonexistent. For many Americans approaching Nogales from the north, the road effectively ends at Tubac due to widespread perceptions that the entire Nogales area is unsafe; thus tourism dollars spent on arts and entertainment rarely make it into Nogales. While some middle- and upper-income Sonoran families have relocated to Arizona’s Nogales, they too opt for areas outside of downtown even while they continue their professional work on the Mexican side of the border. As a result, downtown Nogales is struggling and the city has an unemployment rate of 20%, third-highest in Santa Cruz County. These realities present both challenges and opportunities for Nogales.
Vision for a New Economy
The opportunity is to spawn a new vital economy based on local businesses and rebrand the city as a safe and viable destination for U.S. and Mexican citizens. Drawing from the untapped market of local artisans and community groups, the decaying downtown area can be redeveloped as a center for the arts, local restaurants/businesses, community organizations/educational resources, and a new hospitality industry based on small hotels and airb2b lodging.
National models have demonstrated that the arts communities are key in making long-term positive economic and quality of life changes to depressed and under-served communities like Nogales.
Acquisition of Key Downtown Buildings
Our goal is to acquire prominent commercial properties in the downtown area, assembling a portfolio of historically significant buildings that will be used to create the new local economy. There are more than 20 properties that would fall into this category, many owned by long-term family interests that have seen their businesses close and are seeking to sell their properties.
F.W. Woolworth Co. at 40 N. Morley
This iconic retail building is 200 feet from the border crossing gate, where thousands of pedestrians cross daily to purchase goods and services in Nogales. The building is approximately 7,000 SF and includes a ±3,500 SF ground floor retail area and a ±3,500 SF basement.
Kory Building Complex at 204 N Morley
This property is near the northern boundary of our redevelopment zone and the Nogales Community Development Corporation, an important resource for small business incubation. This property is comprised of 3 buildings that rise from street level up the hillside – a retail store, large office duplex, and a historic house.
Noon Building at 185 N Grand Avenue
Another example of a prime property for redevelopment and transitioning to a new long-term productive use. This would establish the western boundary of our redevelopment zone. This mixed-use property features 3 retail suites on street level, and 12-14 room boarding house perfect for redevelopment into offices or an Airbnb hotel.