TUCSON-About 23 acres of Sonoran Desert will soon become the largest resort ever to be built in Tucson.

The Weitz Co. has begun construction on a 564,000-sf, $70.5-million project, the Marriott Starr Pass Resort, that will outdistance Westin’s La Paloma Resort and Spa, the current title holder as Tucson’s grandest resort, by 75 rooms. Situated amid the lush Sonoran Desert, the Marriott Star Pass is designed with 575 rooms, 66,000 sf of convention and meeting space, three restaurants and a 22,000-sf spa, all set adjacent to the Star Pass Golf Course. Built for owner Starr Pass Resort Development LLC, of Tucson, the project is scheduled for completion by January 2005.

“We’re very excited to be a part of this,” Clay Wells, business development manager in Phoenix for the Des Moines-headquartered Weitz, tells GlobeSt.com. Wells said the resort will be the first Marriott project built in the Southwest by the firm, which has constructed other Renaissance Inns for Marriott, primarily in Florida.

Designed by Hornberger + Worstell Inc. of San Francisco, the resort is designed to evoke a Southwestern flavor in its exterior stucco design, accented by native stone. The construction is post-tensioned concrete and steel and has a pre-cast underground parking garage. The resort features an exterior waterfall near the main entry, specialty restaurant and gift shop along with three adult pools, two spas and a children’s pool.

The resort, located at 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., is about three miles from Tucson’s convention center and about four miles from Interstate 10. The resort property encompasses the Star Pass Golf Course, Tucson’s premier golf course, which is set to be renovated and expanded to include an additional nine holes.

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