Starbucks coming to downtown Tucson, 2023

Starbucks will open a pick-up location inside the former Chicago Store, 130 E. Congress St., next summer or early next fall. The location is part of the company’s newest pick-up concept, exclusively for mobile orders. There is no seating and no in-store orders; everything is done through the Starbucks app.

Downtown Tucson, the bastion of locally-owned restaurants and bars, is getting the behemoth of national chains next year when coffee giant Starbucks moves into the iconic Chicago Music Store on East Congress Street.

Starbucks will open a pick-up location on the first floor of 130 E. Congress St. next summer or early next fall, a Starbucks official confirmed. The location is part of the company’s newest mobile-only concept, where customers order through the app and pick up at the store.

Starbucks had long eyeballed downtown but didn’t think the area was ready, Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker said.

“They now believe,” he said, calling it one more sign that downtown Tucson is on the radar of national and international companies looking to expand into the state. “We see it as validation.”

“It’s a compliment to downtown that they are willing to forgo a drive thru and do something that’s not just a moneymaker to keep their brand in an emerging downtown,” added Peach Properties CEO Ron Schwabe, who owns the building with developer Marcel Dabdoub.

The downtown location will be Starbucks’ second pick-up concept in Tucson; the other one has been open since September 2021 near the University of Arizona at 910 E. Speedway.

Starbucks will be the inaugural tenant on the first floor of the 24,000-square-foot Chicago Music Store building, which Schwabe and Dabdoub bought in late 2015 for $1.85 million. L Offices, a coworking site, occupies part of the second floor.

The downtown location will be Starbucks' second pick-up concept in Tucson; the other one has been open since September 2021 near the University of Arizona at 910 E. Speedway Blvd. 

Dabdoub said Starbucks originally approached them in February after a deal to move into the old Wig-o-Rama building downtown fell through several years ago.

Starbucks will take up 1,250 square feet of the first floor’s 7,300 square feet. Dabdoub said they have gotten a lot of interest from businesses looking to join Starbucks, but don’t expect to see a sandwich shop or bakery.

“As a landlord you are always looking for good options. We believe there’s more need for merchandise retail in downtown,” he said. “You can’t focus on just one use.”

“It can’t just be bars and restaurants and coffee shops,” Schwabe added.

Downtown Tucson Partnership President and CEO Kathleen Eriksen said she is thrilled that Starbucks is coming to downtown “and here’s the reason why: All four of those downtown corners are vacant and having Starbucks move in … will have a domino effect to fill these vacancies in the core of downtown.”

Eriksen said having Starbucks downtown will inspire businesses and customers.

“It gives confidence to the businesses and customers,” she said, adding that Starbucks has a presence in most American downtowns. “I think this is a great thing. I couldn’t be happier. I think this is going to have a ripple effect downtown.”

The Chicago Music Store building, which was built in 1918, had been home to the 104-year-old music store since 1967. The building housed Tucson’s first JC Penney store in the 1950s and a furniture store before that.

McCusker said Rio Nuevo has nearly 20 new projects in the pipelines including Obie Hotels from Oregon, restaurants from Las Vegas and apartment builders from Chicago.

Jimmy John’s and Subway are the only other national chains on Congress Street.

The father and daughter team of Greg and Natalie Furrier with PICOR Commercial Real Estate represented Starbucks in the lease.

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Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at On Twitter @Starburch