Downtown Mesa may get 50-unit artist colony

courtesy of Parker Leavitt, The Republic | azcentral.com9:42 a.m. MST October 22, 2014 Non-profit developer Artspace wants to build an affordable-housing project for working artists in Mesa. (Photo: Artspace) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Non-profit developer Artspace wants to build a 50-unit artist colony in downtown Mesa Nearby light rail was a major factor in choosing the Mesa site The colony could be open by fall 2016  44CONNECT 23TWEET 1LINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE Downtown Mesa’s light-rail extension, set to open next fall, is driving new development in the area as plans have come forward for a 50-unit artist colony within walking distance of a future station at Mesa Drive. Non-profit developer Artspace, which has opened 35 artist housing projects in 13 states, plans to open its first Arizona colony near 2nd Avenue and Hibbert within two years. Artspace communities provide affordable housing for working artists who pass income and background checks. The apartments typically feature high ceilings, large windows, wide doorways and about 100 to 150 square feet of studio space, while the complex includes places for small businesses and community gatherings. Proximity to the light rail was a major factor in selecting the vacant lot at 155 S. Hibbert, said Heidi Kurtze, vice president of property development for Artspace. Also just two blocks away is the Mesa Arts Center, which the group hopes will provide opportunities for collaboration, she said. 5 artist colonies around the U.S. Here’s a look at several other artist colonies non-profit developer Artspace has opened in the U.S. Brookland Artspace Lofts | City: Washington, D.C. | Opened: 2011. | Cost: $13.2 million. | Size: 39 units. (Photo: Photo by: Artspace) Fullscreen Next Slide While...

Judge OKs Mesa light-rail funding plan to Gilbert Rd

courtesy of Gary Nelson, The Republic | azcentral.com April 2, 2014 STORY HIGHLIGHTS Judge OKs Mesa’s plan to fund next light-rail extension No public vote needed for rail funding plan, judge says Extension to Gilbert Road has $112 million price tag Mesa can move forward with an innovative plan to fund a future 1.9-mile light-rail extension, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday. Judge David Udall rejected a lawsuit filed by Joe Price, who owns land occupied by a used-car lot on Main Street near a planned light-rail station at Gilbert Road. Price, who frequently criticizes light-rail and other city policies in e-mails to council members, sued to stop the extension because he said the funding mechanism requires a public vote. Udall found no such requirement and rejected all the other arguments Price’s lawyer made during a March 6 hearing in Mesa. Mesa and Metro light rail are in the midst of building a 3.1-mile extension on Main Street from Sycamore Street through Mesa’s downtown to the Mormon Temple area. That work, costing about $200 million, is being funded with federal grants and the Proposition 400 regional transportation sales tax. Related: Light-rail apartments open in Mesa Service along that extension is expected to begin in late 2015. Several years ago, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith began lobbying for another extension, to Gilbert Road. He argued that because Gilbert Road is Mesa’s symbolic east-west dividing line, as well as a major traffic corridor, it made sense to run the tracks that far east. Metro weighed in with studies showing that a Gilbert Road station would boost light-rail ridership by 4,000 people...

Reinvent PHX eyes development on light-rail system

courtesy of Betty Reid, The Republic | azcentral.com May 10, 2014 STORY HIGHLIGHTS Project would take decades, cost billions People would live close to where they work, able to meet most daily needs without a car Phoenix light-rail system would be spine of project By 2040, Phoenix projects that areas along the city’s light-rail line will have fewer autos, more trees to shade a pedestrian/bike lifestyle and business and residential developments that support that lifestyle. Reinvent PHX is a proposed long-term plan that seeks to transform five of six districts in Phoenix that straddle light rail. The 20-mile rail route snakes through the neighborhoods of Gateway, Eastlake-Garfield, Midtown, Uptown and Solano. “Transforming the light-rail (corridor) as a walkable area will take time,” said Curt Upton, the Phoenix Planning Development Department’s long-range planning project manager. “For now, (it) is designed for cars.” City officials say they expect to seek the City Council’s approval of the plan by December. The city’s urban villages are scheduled to view the plan in the fall. MORE: Phoenix advances light-rail plans despite money hurdles Multiagency partnership Reinvent PHX is a partnership among Phoenix, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Arizona State University, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives and others. The group proposes to develop walkable communities connected to light rail, according to the partnership’s website. Upton said Phoenix is providing a road map and the private sector would drive the concept. The project would create “a new, transit-oriented model for urban planning and development along the city’s light-rail system,” according to the website (phoenix.gov/pdd/reinventphx.html), which has draft plans for two neighborhoods. The Gateway District, for...

Glendale City Council frets over light-rail impacts

 courtesy of Caitlin McGlade, The Republic | azcentral.com May 15, 2014 Valley Metro has staffers who help businesses affected by construction with things like marketing and connecting them to resources such as web design STORY HIGHLIGHTS Valley Metro executives are considering five routes that would link the West Valley to Phoenix near 19th Avenue and Montebello, the light rail’s most western spot The 20-miles of current light rail track, which has cost about $1.4 billion, has generated $7 billion in economic development investments around the light rail Martinez said he’d heard from businesses owners that the rail could “destroy the downtown” Valley Metro leaders at a meeting last week got a taste of the opposition they could face from some business interests in choosing a route for a connection from downtown Glendale to Phoenix. Vice Mayor Yvonne Knaack, who operates a downtown business, and Councilman Manny Martinez said business leaders along Glendale Avenue feared construction from the proposed project would hamper their sales. Knaack said she doesn’t think downtown Glendale had the room for a light-rail system, and that alterations would leave businesses too close to the street. And Martinez said he’d heard from some businesses owners that the rail could “destroy the downtown.” Those comments came at a Glendale City Council meeting at which Valley Metro officials updated the council on its study process for selecting a route and transportation mode to connect Glendale. Other members on the council — Councilmen Gary Sherwood and Sam Chavira — heralded the project as an economic driver, even though it may cause temporary pain. READ MORE: Glendale leaders urged to weigh West...

Mesa merchants have long-term outlook on light rail

courtesy of Jamie Killin, Cronkite News Service May 8, 2014 STORY HIGHLIGHTS Jeweler Matt Muralt believes the light-rail extension will be a big boost to downtown Mesa Light-rail construction is entering a more intensive phase this month Merchants have received assistance and advice on how to get through the turmoil In the not-too-distant future, Metro light-rail trains will travel along Main Street in front of Muralt’s Custom Jewelers, and owner Matt Muralt expects other changes to follow. “I see microbreweries coming down here,” he said. “I see very urban, funky shops — like toy stores, comic-book stores.” When the 3.1-mile expansion of light rail into downtown Mesa is completed late in 2015 or early 2016, Muralt expects it to complement universities that have established presences downtown. “I think it’s going to be more urban, more youthful,” he said. “Hopefully the college students find a reason to stay in downtown Mesa, and that will have to do with the merchants trying to cater to their needs so they don’t drive into Tempe or Phoenix or Scottsdale.” The $200 million project will have Valley Metro adding four stops beyond the Sycamore Station at Dobson Road: at Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive. The work downtown so far has removed a median from Main Street and prepped the area for track, poles for power, and stations. Construction to add those is just beginning. David Short, executive director of the Downtown Mesa Association, said construction will present a challenge for businesses. But in the end, he said, light rail will make downtown Mesa more livable and attract more...

Downtown Mesa light-rail construction approaching end

Parker Leavitt, The Republic | azcentral.com July 31, 2014 Two long summers of heavy construction and traffic restrictions along Main Street in downtown Mesa are nearing a close as Valley Metro’s light-rail extension moves toward an anticipated fall 2015 opening. By the end of September, work on the downtown portion of the 3.1-mile extension will be limited to the track area itself, freeing the roadway from lane restrictions, officials said during a July 24 construction tour. For the businesses that have weathered two years of light-rail construction, the light at the end of the tunnel is quickly approaching. Soon, that light will be on the front of trains filled with commuters, tourists and the occasional joyrider. The steel beams of station platforms are starting to rise, and crews have laid much of the track that will take the train cars from the current terminal at Sycamore Street in west Mesa to a new ending point near Pioneer Park and the Mormon temple. Valley Metro will add four stops to the line when the new segment is complete: at Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive. A new park-and-ride is planned at the northeastern corner of Mesa Drive and Main Street. Construction is now about 54 percent complete and moving quickly. Mesa will be home to 3 more miles of light rail by late 2015. Gary Nelson/The Republic A $75 million grant from the federal government is being used to supplement Proposition 400 regional sales-tax funding for the downtown Mesa line, which is expected to cost around $200 million. Another 1.9-mile extension is planned to take the...
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