It’s probably no big secret that I am excited for Metro’s Light Rail system to begin service here in the valley. You could say that I have been looking forward to this for a really long time. Having grown up in Arizona, I have seen many changes. While I love this state and all it has to offer, I also enjoy visiting cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York and Seattle. To me, places with thriving urban cores are fun to visit. (No, I am not trying to compare Phoenix with these cities.)
When I first began reading about the potential for light rail to come to Arizona, I began to think of how it could change the way some of us live, work and play. Since the beginning of this project, things have been slowly moving into place that have sparked the interest of many people. In the past couple of years, I have spent a lot of time attending meetings with Metro, with community groups, city council’s and the Chamber of Commerce all to get a better feel for the potential that is before us.
It has been fun to read studies of urban growth and Transit Oriented Districts in Tempe, Mesa and in Phoenix. I truly enjoy meeting with groups downtown that have a passion for urban renewal and for some of the infill development that we will need to continue to change the urban core of the cities. When REALTOR Magazine called recently to invite me to participate in a discussion of "Walkable Living" I quickly agreed. (I was glad to know they had found this blog!) Heck, I might have been the most un-qualified person on the panel but, it really didn’t matter, I was just happy to throw in my .02 cents.
I really do believe that Arizona is ready for some of the things that will make the light rail system more successful. Things like; Higher Density, Street Facing Businesses, Pedestrian Friendly Neighborhoods; Walkable Communities.
With the opening of the light rail system, I see the Tempe real estate community continuing it’s trend of higher density. There are some really great communities being developed within a very short distance of the light rail line. I am also excited to see the amount of interest downtown Phoenix is getting. Projects like CityScape and the potential for an entertainment district coupled with a growing arts community and a growing student population are stepping stones that could soon change the valley in ways that just have not even been considered in the past.
It won’t or can’t happen overnight but we will see people (gasp) give up there car or SUV for a whole different lifestyle. There is no magic pill and these changes will not occur instantly but they will begin to happen. Be careful, it might just surprise you!