Condo Project Heads to Auction

Condo Project Heads to Auction TUCSON, AZ - A failed condo project at 44 E. Broadway downtown, where no condos were ever built or sold, has gone into foreclosure and an auction is scheduled for Nov. 24. The building was once the federal courthouse annex, and James LeBeau, managing partner in the project, hoped to turn it into more than 30 upscale, 1,300-square-foot condos that he would sell for $350,000 to $650,000. Despite a loan of $2.86 mil-lion from Bank of the West and $1.6 million in private investment, the project never came together.

The north facade of the building has been torn down and not replaced, and the only finished construction is what appears to be a vacant "sales office" on the ground floor.

There is a "For Sale by Owner" sign on the office window and a hand-scribbled note from LeBeau on the auction notice saying he would be happy to show the building to any potential buyers.

During a brief interview LeBeau pinned the project's failure on a lack of city subsidies.

"We didn't get subsidized. We didn't get any free rent," he said. "I think the city always wanted downtown to have nice housing. I just never understood why no one ever approached me saying, 'We could help you, and here is how."

City subsidies haven't necessarily spurred downtown development.

A nearby condo project, The Post, 56 E. Congress St., which is owned by developer Don Bourn, received plenty of city assistance.

Bourn bought the land for $100, and years later the site sits forlorn and vacant.

Presidio Terrace, 301 W. Paseo Redondo, also received promises of city subsidies, and that project has been scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile, Ice House Lofts, at South Park Avenue and East 16th Street, received no city subsidies and was a successful project.

Asked if he thought his price point was unrealistic for the downtown Tucson market at any time in the economic cycle, LeBeau stood by his concept, saying Tucson is a metro area of a million people with limited luxury housing downtown.

"It's an awesome project," he said. "Someone else is going to finish it."

Jayson Meyerovitz, an investor, was skeptical, saying he didn't think there was ever a business plan for the project and that millions of dollars have been wasted.

"They never sold a single unit," Meyerovitz said. "He was begged by the partners to sell the building for years."

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