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Rio Nuevo loses long-serving board member Mark Irvin, adds Port of Tucson CEO Mike Levin

The Downtown Tucson business development district Rio Nuevo announced that its longest-serving board member, Mark Irvin, resigned last week after 12 years on the board of directors. Mike Levin, CEO of the Port of Tucson, has been appointed to fill his spot before a Jan. 25 meeting.

Irvin told TucsonSentinel.com that his resignation was a simple retirement board of the taxpayer-funded district, saying “I just think after 12 years it’s time to do some other things,” and “12 years as a volunteer is probably plenty.”

He had been the last of the original appointees to the Rio Nuevo Board of Directors that was created in 1999 after voters approved the use of sales tax funds to increase revenue from Tucson’s Downtown and urbanize the area. Rio Nuevo has since worked with private-sector partners to develop real estate in Downtown but also in parts of Menlo Park and along the “Sunshine Mile,” a stretch of Broadway east of Downtown.

During Irvin’s tenure, Rio Nuevo have completed projects like creating offices for Caterpillar, the large corporate manufacture of construction and mining equipment; building retail, restaurant, office and entertainment space on Congress Street, Mercado San Agustin and Cathedral Square; restoring 39 properties on Broadway; and bringing the Tucson Roadrunners to the Tucson Arena.

The last few projects that Irvin saw through included renovating the Tucson Convention Center and starting the renovation of the Arizona Hotel in a Hyatt hotel, which began in December.

Irvin was applauded for his work on the board in a statement by Fletcher McCusker, chairman of the Rio Nuevo board, who also welcomed Levin.

Irvin "has been a significant part of the success of the reconstituted Rio Nuevo Board," McCusker said. "His leadership as an executive officer has helped launch some of the most meaningful projects Downtown… He will be missed but his contribution to Tucson's revitalization efforts will be a lifetime legacy.”

Arizona state government has oversight over Rio Nuevo, after the Legislature and governor took over the district from local officials a decade ago, and appointments for their board come from the speaker of the House, the Senate president and the governor, each of which selects two members for the board. The appointment of Levin came from House Speaker Rusty Bowers and was effective Jan. 11. Board members have no term limits and serve at the pleasure of state officials.

Levin, whose company manages an inland industrial port southeast of Tucson, praised the accomplishments of Rio Nuevo including their work on the Sunshine Mile and bringing Caterpillar offices to town.

“They’ve been a phenomenal catalyst for economic development within the district,” Levin said. “They always seemed like a group that were doing very good things for the community from an economic development standpoint, and that’s something our company does. We’re very interested in economic development, the development of jobs and bringing good quality companies to the Tucson region.”

Levin is still getting oriented with Rio Nuevo’s board and its inner workings, he said, but expects to contribute through his background in real estate and business development. His company, the Port of Tucson, manages 2.4 million square feet of industrial space connected by rail to the U.S. and Mexico and is where Amazon chose to build their distribution center. He’s also on the Tucson Metro Chamber Board of Directors.

Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member.

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courtesy of Rio Nuevo

Mike Levin, CEO of Port of Tucson, was appointed to the Rio Nuevo Board of Directors after Mark Irvin, who was with them for 12 years, resigned earlier in January.