Downtown Mesa copes with light-rail construction

courtesy of Weldon B. Johnson, The Republic | September 10, 2014

Downtown Mesa merchants are suffering through short-term pain for what could be long-term gain.

Main Street in downtown Mesa is torn up as the Valley Metro light-rail line expands to the east. As a result, it’s a little harder to get around, but businesses are making the best of the situation.

“It hasn’t hurt our business that much,” said Julian Moraga of Gotham City Comics & Coffee. “Our regular customers have been coming and we’re still getting some new ones.”

One of the big keys, Moraga said, is that there is still plenty of available parking behind most of the shops.

“They have done a good job of promoting that,” Moraga said. “As long as people know there is parking, they will still come.”

There are plenty of signs in the downtown area directing potential shoppers and diners to parking.

Valley Metro has its own efforts to draw shoppers into the area affected by light-rail construction.

Shop On, Win On is a Valley Metro promotion in which visitors to downtown Mesa can enter to win prizes, including dinners, gift certificates and a shopping spree. There are two prize drawings remaining, on Monday, Sept. 15, and Tuesday, Sept. 30. To enter, shoppers can post pictures from local businesses on Metro’s Facebook or Twitter pages. They also can enter through raffle boxes at Downtown Rendezvous (20 E. Main St.) and Republica Empanada (204 E. First Ave.).

New home for Asylum Records

The light-rail construction didn’t stop Asylum Records from relocating to downtown Mesa.

The store, which specializes in new and used vinyl records, CDs and other music-themed memorabilia, opened on Sept. 5. Scott Robenalt, who owns the store along with his wife, April, said they have wanted to be in downtown Mesa for a while.

“I wanted to be here a year and a half ago, but the rent was too high,” Robenalt said. “I like the Mesa area. I think this strip will be really cool.”

Asylum Records moved to downtown Mesa from Tempe. Robenalt said they made the move when the current space near the northwestern corner of Main Street and McDonald opened with a more reasonable rate.

Ongoing light-rail construction wasn’t a big concern.

“I think this part of town will be hopping and booming in about a year,” Robenalt said. “I know we’ll suffer while construction is going on, but I think it will be fabulous once it’s done.”

Asylum Records is open while getting settled in its new space. The Robenalts and staff are still decorating the store, but their inventory is in place. Grand-opening festivities will come this fall.

Information:, 480- 964-6301.

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