The world-class concert hall envisioned by Christi Worsley would bring to reality the biggest and costliest dream ever floated for downtown Mesa.
The historic city center would become a hub of culture and education all but unparalleled in the American Southwest.
But even at that, Mesa still could be left wondering what might have been. At least two other major proposals, each of them meshing with Mesa’s educational aspirations, have withered in recent months.
The first would have been the $30 million Barry and Peggy Goldwater Center for Democracy, which was to have been built on the southeast corner of Macdonald and First Avenue. The privately funded research center honoring the conservative legacy of Barry Goldwater, a legendary U.S. senator from Arizona, was announced to great fanfare in 2012.
But fund-raising lagged and the center’s agreement with Mesa expired at the end of 2015 after the project’s director died.
The second would have been a downtown campus of Arizona State University.
University officials unveiled a glitzy vision for the project to the City Council in May of this year. The main building would have replaced an existing city-owned structure just northeast of the Mesa Arts Center. Three others would have anchored a park-like plaza immediately north of City Hall.
Mesa asked voters on Nov. 8 to approve a sales-tax increase that, in addition to boosting police and fire resources, would have funneled $15 million a year into what was called the ASU-Mesa Innovation, Arts and Education Center.
The question failed, with about 54 percent of voters in opposition. It was the first time in a decade that Mesa voters had rejected a city tax or bond proposal. The last such defeat came in 2006, when the city asked for approval of a primary property tax to help pay for general-fund operating expenses.
ASU officials would not comment directly on whether the Mesa project will be revived. Bret Hovell, ASU’s senior director of media relations, told the Tribune the university for now will offer no comment beyond a statement it published after the election.
In that statement, ASU said, “We look forward to our continued partnership with the city of Mesa, expanding our community and social impact, and serving the citizens of Mesa through our Polytechnic campus” in the Gateway area.
But City Manager Chris Brady was more optimistic. He said the city and ASU are looking at other ways to fund the downtown campus.
“We still think this is a great opportunity for both of us,” Brady said.