The City of Mesa, AZ, hired Opticos to create a Master Plan and Form-Based Code that would remove existing barriers to revitalizing the city’s downtown. The code was adopted in June 2012, and the first project to be developed with the code was completed in November of last year.
The FBC was written to encourage transit-oriented development along a five-mile stretch of Mesa’s Main Street corridor, which runs along the city’s new light rail linking downtown Mesa to nearby Phoenix and Tempe, and provides incentives for redevelopment. Local businesses are optimistic about the impact the new light rail will have on Mesa. “I see microbreweries coming down here … I see very urban, funky shops—like toy stores, comic book stores,” Matt Muralt, who owns a custom jewelry business, told the Arizona Capitol Times.
The effort also created a strong identity for Mesa and encouraged new high-quality architecture. “The FBC is not about regulating style but rather good urbanism,” said Opticos Principal Dan Parolek. “The city’s style is contemporary, but activates the local streetscape.”
Encore on First, an 81-unit transit-oriented rental community for independent seniors, is downtown Mesa’s first private sector investment in nearly 30 years. It is within walking distance of three museums, the Mesa Arts Center, and a library, and utilizes sustainable resources, including a 60 KW rooftop solar plant tied into the city’s power grid, and features high-efficiency windows, energy-saving construction, and Energy Star appliances. The project recently won a local award for best new multifamily development.
The light rail line is currently under construction and is expected to open for riders by early 2016. The city expects more private investment to follow as Mesa’s transit project nears completion.
Main image: Photo montage illustrating Mesa’s Master Plan and Form-Based Code intent; inset shows pre-code conditions.
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