Recently, the Mesa City Council unanimously voted in favor of creating the Downtown Mesa Entertainment District. I read in an AZCentral article titled “Mesa to pursue nightlife district” that a downtown entertainment district is basically a tool created by a new law that says cities can designate up to 1 square mile as an entertainment district where a state-imposed 300-foot buffer between schools and churches and bars / nightclubs would no longer apply. Interestingly enough, I have also heard that Mesa is targeting areas roughly bounded by Extension and Mesa Drive to the East and West and parts of University to Broadway on the North and South as being part of an entertainment or nightlife district. Call it what you want, this is just another in a long list of impressive moves by the city that so many people had / have written off for dead. Oh yeah, all of the areas being discussed are right in the heart of where the Mesa light rail extension is going to be carrying passengers in a few short years.
“The Downtown Mesa Entertainment District is proposed to be approximately .75 square miles, or roughly 485 acres. It focuses on the urban core of downtown Mesa, includes the current light rail corridor, commercial areas and areas where development and/or greater densities are being encouraged.” City of Mesa
Mayor Smith has talked about the fact that many would-be businesses have passed on downtown Mesa as a destination because they feared an environment where a liquor license would be impossible to obtain. This long standing perception of the area is slowly fading and designations like this entertainment district will continue to help change the environment.
Present and Future:
Places like Monsterland, a horror-themed restaurant and BAR in downtown Mesa and the nearby Desert Eagle Brewing Company are currently bringing in new dollars just like any growing downtown environment would hope to do. As new businesses head to Mesa to follow all of the college students that will soon be living there, it will be hard not to see some significant changes.
For sure, there are challenges and the area is far from perfect, but the decision makers in Mesa appear to be calling some pretty good shots that are being heard far and wide.