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15-Story Dwtn Mesa Apts, Hotel Planned

Mesa will maintain ownership of the land where the Habitat Metro project is planned. The land was gifted to the city in the 1950s for public parking. The developer's project will maintain at least 102 public parking spots to uphold the city's obligation. Credit: The Arizona Republic

By Jessica Boehm for The Arizona Republic

One of the pioneers who helped reinvigorate downtown Phoenix nearly a decade ago with a risky condo project wants to take another risk — this time in downtown Mesa.

Habitat Metro wants to bring a 14- or 15-story hotel and apartment complex across the street from the Mesa Arts Center.

The Mesa City Council gave unanimous approval last week to begin project negotiations with a subsidiary of Habitat Metro.

Tallest Building in Downtown Mesa

The land at the SWC of Main and Center streets is currently a city-owned parking lot. According to early plans for the development, Habitat Metro would build a multistory parking garage topped by at least 75 apartments and 75 hotel rooms.

It would be the tallest building in downtown Mesa, according to the city’s Downtown Transformation Manager Jeff McVay.

The developers already own land next to the parking garage where they plan to build a 7KSF food hall, which would accommodate three or four trendy dining options. On top, they would build a 5KSF events center.

Arizona Sen. Bob Worsley and Kent Lyons are partners in the development. Tim Sprague, Habitat Metro principal hopes his team can break ground this time next year, he said.

Is Downtown Mesa Where Downtown Phoenix was 15 Years Ago?

Sprague said downtown Mesa is similar to downtown Phoenix 15 years ago when he began developing his first condo project in the city, with one major leg-up: The light rail is already installed.

Downtown Mesa also has a burgeoning college presence, much like downtown Phoenix in the early 2000s. Arizona State University‘s downtown Phoenix campus is often cited as a metamorphic addition to downtown.

Benedictine University, a Catholic university from Illinois, opened a satellite campus in downtown Mesa four years ago and now serves about 500 students with plans for continued growth.

Additionally, Mesa Mayor John Giles remains eager to land an ASU campus in the area.

Tax Breaks

For the next year, the city will work out a development agreement, which is likely to include financial incentive for the developers, McVay said.

It’s possible the developer will ask for a popular incentive that abates taxes for eight years or for favorable lease provisions, he said.

Mesa will maintain ownership of the land.

The project and any incentives will come back before council for approval in the next year. The city would also need to change the zoning because a 14-story building is not currently allowed on the land, McVay said.

Read more at The Arizona Republic.

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