By Alison Steinbach for The Arizona Republic
A boutique hotel and an array of apartments — from one focused on sustainable living to another offering an ultra modern twist — are planned in downtown Mesa’s one square mile.
The projects are energizing city leaders who have long sought to transform the downtown into a bustling, innovative urban core.
For now, the square mile of downtown has the lowest population density of any developed square mile in the city, according to Jeff McVay, Mesa’s manager of downtown transformation.
Now it aims to bring more people to live and visit.
The city is constructing a building in the heart of downtown designed to attract Arizona State University classes to Mesa in spring 2022.
McVay points to that and private development in the works as the momentum the city needs to convince investors.
The Residences on Main Break Ground in November
Where: NWC of Main Street and Country Club Drive
What: 200 apartment units and 20KSF of retail
Crews are expected to break ground in mid-November on a five-story apartment complex with retail on the ground floor. The project on what currently is a vacant lot is expected to open in March 2021.
Sugarcube Goes Ultra Modern
Where: Main Street between Country Club Drive and Vineyard Street
What: Mixed-use office and apartment building
Across the street from the Residences on Main, architect Tim Boyle has designed the Sugarcube, which plans to offer ground floor office space and upper floor “ultra modern apartments.”
Boyle, who sits on the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, said the project has been through the initial city process and he hopes to begin building in 2020.
ECO Mesa to Offer Green Urban Living
Where: SEC of Pepper Place and Robson Street
What: 70 apartment units and 5KSF of ground-floor retail
ECO Mesa, a proposed six to seven-story building with market-rate or luxury apartments and retail space, remains in city-developer negotiation.
The city is willing to sell the land, but the 76 public parking spaces lost by development would need to be re-added for public use in the apartment’s parking lot at no city cost, McVay said.
Habitat Metro, the developer behind the project, will focus on sustainable living. Most on-site power will be generated by renewables like solar panels, and each apartment will have a TV that monitors energy use. Residents with the lowest energy use could be given a free meal, according to building plans.
McVay said there have been “speed bumps along the way” due to utility and infrastructure challenges, but the city is in final negotiations with the developer, after which work can begin.
FOUND:RE Mesa Would Boast Tallest Downtown Building
Where: SWC of Main and Center streets
What: Planned with 75 luxury apartments, a boutique hotel with at least 75 rooms and 7KSF of ground floor retail and restaurants.
This proposed 15-story structure would be the tallest building in downtown Mesa.
Developer Habitat Metro helped build FOUND:RE Phoenix, a boutique hotel focused on graphic and visual arts in downtown Phoenix. A similar development across from the Mesa Arts Center would likely focus on music and performing arts, McVay said.
Plans for the complex were announced in summer 2017, but the site remains a city-owned public parking lot for now.
McVay said the city and developer are “actively working on a development agreement,” but the project is a longer-term vision with more moving parts.
Where: SWC of Mesa Drive and University Drive
What: Mixed-use apartment and retail complex
Mesa leaders in 2015 began considering how to develop 27 acres of city-owned land into a mix of residential, retail, employment and outdoor spaces that would be the largest new development in downtown. Two developers are putting together proposals, one of which the city will move forward with.
Mesa likely would sell the land as part of a deal, said McVay, who expects to see “a significant first phase” completed within five years.
The city’s master plan envisions multifamily housing complexes and flexible space for retail, restaurants, offices and a grocery store. The city’s plan also calls for the possibility of maker spaces, a central park and market square and bike routes.
The GRID Would Build on Underutilized Parking Garage
Where: Main and Pomeroy streets
What: 196 sky apartments, 75 micro-units and 15 three-level row homes, plus commercial development.
The GRID is planned as an apartment complex and commercial development on three acres of city-owned land that includes an underutilized parking garage next to Benedictine University.
A Co+Hoots co-working space was initially set to anchor The GRID but is now working to partner with Benedictine.
The GRID plans to build a six-story building on Main Street and four stories of apartments on top of the existing three-story parking garage.
Mesa would continue to own the garage, providing the developer 340 spaces for residents and commercial visitors.
The GRID was initially expected to open in fall 2019 but McVay said it has faced challenges securing financing. McVay said city officials talked with investors earlier this month and they’re optimistic the project will happen.
He said he hopes financing for The GRID will wrap up by the end of 2019 and that construction could begin early next year.
Encore Final Phase to Add Three New Apartment Buildings
Where: SWC of Macdonald Street and 1st Avenue
What: 72 market-rate apartment units across three new buildings
Encore Final Phase is just that, the final phase of a project with three already completed developments offering affordable senior housing and market-rate downtown apartments.
Construction is expected to begin in December 2021 and provide three more apartment buildings on what used to be overflow parking for the Mesa Arts Center.
Caliber to Update Nine Historic Buildings
Where: Nine buildings on Main Street, between Center Street and Country Club Drive
What: Restoration largely for restaurant, bars and entertainment venues
Scottsdale-based real-estate investment firm Caliber purchased eight historic buildings in 2018 and has since acquired a ninth building.
Four of the buildings are occupied by longstanding tenants and the others are undergoing “extensive base building renovations,” according to a company statement.
Caliber plans to invest up to $60M to redevelop more than 100KSF mainly to lease to restaurants, offices, bars, entertainment groups and “creative space users” to help reinvigorate downtown alongside incoming ASU.
The firm also hopes to build a mixed-use residential complex in downtown Mesa.
Caliber has a $500M fund to invest in opportunity zones, part of which it has used to purchase properties in downtown Mesa’s tax-break opportunity zone.
Read more at The Arizona Republic.