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  • New Visitor Center opens downtown

    Jan 21, 2020 | Read More News
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    Visitor CenterJust in time for the gem show, tourists and residents have a new place to visit in downtown Tucson. The Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, located inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., has opened for business. The Center features various exhibits designed to help people explore the culture, food, heritage, ecology and landscapes of Southern Arizona.

    The 7,500-square-foot Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center debuted Jan. 18 in a soft opening that drew dozens of local residents who were anxious to see the completely renovated space inside the Historic Courthouse, which has been adapted for reuse as an economic hub serving the regional tourism industry.

    Despite its name, the Visitor Center isn’t just for visitors – this attraction is the starting point for anyone looking to learn more about Southern Arizona’s culture, heritage and local attractions. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Center includes a gift shop, mini-theater and several interactive displays designed to inform, educate and direct folks to museums, shopping, festivals, dining, mountains, rivers, lakes, ruins, trails, and more.

    “The history and culture of Pima County and its people are on full display at the new Visitor Center,” Chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors Richard Elías said. “The ancestral homelands of the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui nations have nurtured and are the basis for the story that is told. Visitors and Tucsonans alike will enjoy the Visitor Center for years to come.”

    The Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center was a two-pronged effort led by Pima County to not only preserve an iconic landmark, but also transform it into an economic development asset for the region.

    “We’ve taken a nearly 100-year-old building that was definitely feeling its age and completely renovated it from basement to dome into a hub of culture and tourism-related information and activities,” Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said.

    Thanks to the partnership among Pima County’s Attractions & Tourism, Visit Tucson, the University of Arizona, and the January 8th Memorial Foundation, there will soon be more to see and do at the Historic Courthouse alongside the already-opened Visitor Center exhibits.

    Still to come is rental space inside the Historic Courthouse for private celebrations, meetings and other events; a John Dillinger exhibit inside the courtroom where the notorious gangster was arraigned more than 85 years ago; the University of Arizona’s Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum; and a Memorial to honor the lives of the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011, mass shooting. The facility is expected to be fully-open by January 2021.

    The Historic Courthouse project, led by Pima County Facilities Management, came in at a total cost of $25 million, which includes not only the $4.8 million Visitor Center construction costs, but also the costs associated with renovating and rehabilitating the facility. These construction and operation costs will be offset by tenant leases, user fees and gift shop revenue.

    To learn more about the Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, go to visitsouthernarizona.com.