Mesa apartment complex will be "gateway to downtown"
A prominent street corner on the edge of downtown Mesa will soon be redeveloped into a 200-unit apartment complex.
Why it matters: The city has long wanted to revamp the corner of Country Club Drive and Main Street, which it considers the "gateway to downtown." But it found itself on the losing end of a controversial eminent domain case that caused decades of divisions in the community.
State of play: Community development organization Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) worked with the former landowner and city to purchase the property and began building a market-rate apartment complex on it last summer.
- The project will be five stories and include 19,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space on Main Street. It's expected to open next summer.
What they're saying: "Today, this corner … represents things that are possible when we work together towards a shared vision for our city," Mesa Mayor John Giles said at an event with Chicanos Por La Causa last week.
Flashback: The city of Mesa in 2000 tried to seize the property, a portion of which was then owned by Bailey's Brake Service, as part of a redevelopment initiative to liven up the corner.
- The owner of the brakes shop sued the city and the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Mesa could not take the land because it was planning to use it for a private development, the East Valley Tribune reported.
- The case caused deep fractures between the city and residents and was featured on a "60 Minutes" segment on local government eminent domain abuses.
Zoom in: More than a decade later, the brakes shop owner agreed to work with the city to redevelop the area and CPLC in 2019 submitted a proposal for the apartment complex and purchased the land.
- "That's the kind of piece that a community development organization like ourselves can come into a sticky kind of situation like that and work with all the constituents to put something together that worked for everyone," CPLC vice president of economic development Jose Martinez said.
What's next: CPLC plans to develop two other housing projects about two blocks west on Main Street.
- It's already completed 10 townhomes — part of the group's efforts to offer "attainable homeownership" in Mesa — and has 70 more in the pipeline.
- It also plans to begin construction on a 100-unit subsidized housing complex in 2026.
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