The debate over what is right and what is wrong with development along our light rail line can get pretty intense. Recently there was an interesting article about the Mesa light rail extension titled “Mesa looks to save landmarks” touching on some of the coming changes that are sure to occur between now and when the trains begin to travel along Main Street. Historic preservationists want to keep developers from running wild and creating demand for “urban renewal” projects that threaten to tear down some of the older buildings along and near Main Street. An interesting quote from the article came from a Mesa architect that said:
"The downtown hasn’t been destroyed yet, but we are in fear of that with the light rail"
The addition of light rail in Arizona seems to have built more “community” than it has destroyed along the existing 20 mile route. In fact, Phoenix and Tempe have mainly seen positive reactions from people along the line. Currently, there is one building along the Mesa extension, the Landmark Restaurant, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other significant historic buildings exist along and near the line and there is much interest in preserving them for future generations.
The Mesa light rail extension is set to open in 2016 which will be here before we know it. As time draws near and demand for buildings and homes near the Mesa line increase, the debates over what should stay or go are sure to increase. Who knows if there will be more places destroyed or built but it should be interesting to follow along.