University of Arizona sued over former governor’s home

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – The family of Arizona’s only Hispanic governor is suing the University of Arizona over an alleged breach of contract for trying to sell his home in Nogales.

The family of Raúl Hector Castro donated the home to the university several years ago for a specific use, the Arizona Daily Star reported. A complaint filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court challenges the university’s decision to sell the house rather than use it as a headquarters for border studies initiatives as planned.

The lawsuit states that the home holds more than monetary value for the Castro family.

“Specifically, the Castro family enjoyed the home for two decades and, upon Raúl’s death, wanted the Castro home to be dedicated to supporting Arizonans and the Santa Cruz County community,” the lawsuit says.

Castro served more than two years as Arizona’s first and only Mexican-American governor during the 1970s before resigning to serve as ambassador to Argentina. He also served as an ambassador to Bolivia and El Salvador.

In 2003, he and his wife, Patricia Castro, purchased and moved into the home in Nogales near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Castro died in 2015. After his death, the lawsuit says, the university approached the Castro family about headquartering its emerging border studies initiatives at the two-story house.

If the university sold the home, the lawsuit says the family “will suffer irreparable injury which are not remediable by compensatory damages.”

The university and the board of regents have declined to comment specifically on the pending litigation.

The university announced in February that was unable to raise enough money to restore and convert the historic property into a publicly accessible university-run border center.

University spokeswoman Pam Scott said that when the school first took ownership of the property in 2016, it estimated the project to cost $600,000. When the COVID pandemic disrupted supply chains, that estimate ballooned to $1.2 million on the low end and up to $2.6 million if both floors of the house were converted.

As for the money already raised – about $275,000 – the university had said each donor could choose either a refund or to add it to a scholarship fund named for Castro.

Net proceeds from the sale of the home would go to the scholarship fund, which benefits students in the Center for Latin American Studies who are studying international relations or local politics.

The Castro family is seeking an injunction to keep the university from selling the home and ultimately rescission of the 2016 agreement.

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