The cool people over at the Sustainable Communities Collaborative recently spoke with the Mayors of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa about light rail, sustainability and quality planning for our future. Take a look at this video to hear more about what Mayors Stanton, Mitchell and Smith have to say about the light rail corridor.
12/27/2008 – Light Rail Arrives!
Yes, it was a cold day in Arizona when the first trains left the station. An early morning celebration at the METRO operations facility literally had people shivering as local, state and national politicians, business owners and transit geeks gathered to take the historic first official light rail ride. Trains made their way to each city where Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix all had huge celebrations.
Ironically, one of the large celebrations in Tempe was performed on a vacant lot very close to the light rail station at Veterans Way / College Ave. This same lot is now has a 19-story building on it that was recently sold for $103 million and is home to hundreds of people.
“University House, sits on roughly 1.6 acres at 323 E. Veterans Way near the Metro light rail in downtown Tempe.” – PHX Business Journal
Phoenix: Wowza! The synergy, the transformation, the excitement that we’ve seen over the last 5 years is truly remarkable. There is an entirely new lifestyle along the light rail line in Phoenix where people embrace a car free or car-light existence. We are seeing infill development, new restaurants, small and large business interest and a ton of support for transit, along with a huge bicycle-friendly push to compliment the light rail trains. Mayor Stanton often talks of transit and mentions that we will continue to see economic opportunity in housing and multi-use projects where we will have more live / work spaces, as well as more places where retail / storefronts exist with housing above, just like other cities with great transit systems.
Tempe: Transit has played a big part in bringing new developments to the downtown Tempe area. In the 85281 zip code, we’ve seen well over a billion dollars in projects announced in the last couple of years, and the light rail line is mentioned time after time when we read details of why places are being built. Mayor Mitchell talks often of attracting big and small developments to the area, and we have certainly seen that happen over the last 5 years. Adding a streetcar to downtown Tempe has been a hot topic over the past few years. It will be interesting to watch what happens next with those decisions.
Mesa: Mayor Smith and many others have done a great job in planning for the future along the transit corridor and working with the Feds for funding the expansion. The synergy and interest in downtown Mesa has already attracted a ton of development in an area where the light rail is still under construction. These expansion plans have helped land several new colleges that will be bringing new people, new projects and new dollars to the area.
Regional cooperation: The cities all seem to understand the importance of having the entire light rail corridor be successful. They talk about connectivity, growth, successful infill projects and attracting people of all walks of life to the area. A lot has been done in the last five years, but with proper planning, more interest, more education and more demand, we are sure to see continued success. It’s gonna be a fun ride!