As most of us know, Mesa is on the fast-track to complete the next ( and first ) extension of our light rail system. Over the past couple of years, there have been many meetings and much input on routes, construction, business development and all aspects of bringing light rail further into Mesa. This next phase of the Mesa light rail extension is set to be operational in 2016.
Recently, there has been a lot of attention to potential zoning changes along the line where a “dense urban core of mid-rise buildings with a variety of business and residential uses” could be found. As we have discussed in the past, Main Street in downtown Mesa already seems to have what many urban planners look for when talking about transit oriented developments. Wide sidewalks, street facing businesses, densely populated cores, etc. Bringing the light rail line through the existing downtown Mesa area will bring new residents, shoppers, and interest to an area that has struggled to transform itself after many attempts in the past. Sure, there are those who would like to see Mesa keep it’s “small town feel” forever, but having an economic engine that is light rail travel through the city is bound to help bring much needed foot traffic to the area.
“The first step is adoption of form-based zoning for the area. Form-based zoning pays more attention to the size and density of buildings rather than to their specific uses, and it provides transitions from intense urban areas to residential neighborhoods” – Jeff McVay, Mesa City Planner via AZCentral
All of this talk comes at a time when light rail ridership continues to post record numbers. As the economy struggles to find it’s footing, many people are looking to find areas where they can combine convenience, cost savings, and lifestyle into one simple package. Phoenix and Tempe have both shown that businesses and neighborhoods can benefit from a strong transportation system. All indications point to Mesa looking forward to extending the light rail system further east and bringing more of an urban feel to the areas along the line…