Downtown Overlay

Marana’s Downtown District is taking shape with recent decisions from town council.

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The Marana Town Council authorized another 10 years of investing in creating a downtown Marana that draws new residents, businesses and tourists alike.

The Downtown Marana Reinvestment Fund, or DMRF, adopted in 2013, collects half the construction and general sales tax generated in Marana’s Downtown Activity Center: northern Marana, east of the Interstate 10. The DMRF had a five-year sunset that would have ended this June had the council not authorized its extension. 

The town can use the fund to incentivize developers to opt into using the recently passed zoning overlay in the downtown area, which makes it appealing for developers to build walkable mixed-use projects that have buildings flush with the sidewalk and parking behind.

“This will give us a better chance for developers to opt into that overlay zone and give us an opportunity to build that vision that we have for the downtown district,” said Marana Director of Economic Development and Tourism Curt Woody.

For developments in line with the town’s vision, the DMRF could fund public infrastructure like sewer, water, roads, parking and landscaping.

The current balance in the DMRF is about $600,000, some of which will soon fund landscaping for the Marana Main Street roundabout. The fund currently collects about $230,000 a year, an amount that Woody said is bound to increase as developments go in and new retail stores open in the Activity Center. 

If the town wanted to give a public infrastructure incentive to a development—for example, build and own their parking lot—but there wasn’t enough funds in the DMRF at the time, borrowing the money from the general fund and then paying it back from the DMRF could be an option, according to Woody.

“Our vision is to create a downtown that’s walkable and bikeable,” Woody said. “Kind of like what you’d see in Tucson.” 

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