Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is your vision for downtown?

As one of the major land owners, the City of Mesa wants to play a major role in determining the vision of downtown. It is wise of them to not to take over the process, but also not stand on the sidelines either. However, the issue remains the same, there really isn't driving traffic, people, and jobs to Downtown.

Downtown is not on a major freeway, its not really all that easy to find, and in some ways the boundaries are not all that easily defined. The Temple should probably be included in the planning process, but it is not clear if they have been invited or are even willing to participate in the process.

Perhaps a downtown university could provide the spark, or maybe bringing in even more museums could help spur the cultural aspect. Maybe there is something to the idea of attracting a Soccer team and a soccer stadium. In the end, it will probably fall to light rail to be the savior of downtown, but I don't know if its enough to do the job. The area needs a bonafide attraction if they think its not just going to be one failed rennovation after another.


Chris said...

Saw your twitter post. I don't know what the answer is, but the Mesa city fathers ought to spend some time talking to the folks in Chandler. Have you been to downtown Chandler recently? It's fantastic. Great little restaurants, art galleries, retail spaces. Cultural activities in the park. It feels almost.... cool.

Sarah said...

Why not turn downtown Mesa into an arts area? The beauty of that is that artists will make do with whatever is there, so infrastructure investments are minimal.

Tempe is events and nightlife, Chandler is sort of quirky/eclectic (Sedona-esque?), Gilbert is going family/historic, so somewhere needs to be a rag-tag artist area. You've got MAC already to churn 'em out.

As for the temple, to get it into downtown, Mesa has to eliminate that there's a vibe from about MAC to the temple. I don't want to go down there at night.

Heath Reed said...

Long post.

Downtowns are my thing and I love downtown Mesa. I see so much potential in it and feel that many are missing or not seeing the potential. I have tried to work with the city on this, but they rather give the money to the DMA to do this. Oh Well. Its easy to point at possible things that can reinvent downtown or what the major issues are. First, a freeway is not going to matter in its location. When driving, flying or anything, you know in most cities where the downtown is due to streets and the iconic view of downtown with high rises. For most cities, it’s the identity and Mesa really does not have one.

Lets look at what was the focus over the years. Sprawl, new shopping malls and strip centers, growth was the major economic engine and the area wanted to remain a quite bedroom community. The idea of a finical district around the Fiesta district affected downtown too. Mesa was built on post world war principles of planning of wide roads, separated and isolated uses and these past decisions and methods and trends have affected what downtown is. That is why it is important to really take a step back and be innovative and aggressive with downtown.

Past visions have been in my opinion poorly designed and lacking in ideas and reality of what would create a thriving and vibrant downtown. Problem is with this latest round is that I am not confident in who is doing this new vision for downtown Mesa in DMA. They have some good ideas, but really do not have the staff, or the trained outside perspective who can really evaluate the current conditions and how the city can go about changing the downtown environment. We cant stick with the silver bullet mentality of more roof tops, museums, light rail or more restaurants. Its a mix of things that makes downtowns thrive and attract people no matter what the location is. Tom V is a smart man but has been out of the planning realm and there is no other person in that organization at this time who can do what they are proposing. They are stuck in the past in some ways. The city has the planners and they should be utilized in this process. The city I believe needs to play a more active role because I am not confident DMA can create a vision that sticks and brings change to downtown Mesa. LIke I said, some ideas are great, but if you look at their document and proposal, it is not professional or exciting at all. Like Mesa, it is 20 years behind the curve.