It isn’t getting developed tomorrow, but ambitious plans for a radically urban development in Mesa prompted some smiles early Tuesday morning from city leaders.
|http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/images/photos/2008/07/15/86ttr6vi.gif" alt= " DMB/Mesa Proving Ground, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Rittenhouse Rd., Ray Rd., Elliot Rd., GILBERT, Power Rd., MARICOPA COUNTY, PINAL COUNTY, QUEEN CREEK, Pecos Rd., Ellsworth Rd., Loop 202, U.S. 60, MESA, Scott Kirchhofer/TRIBUNE" />|
More than vision will be needed to steer away from the usual red tile rooftops and big box stores as the 3,200 acres of desert landscape in east Mesa currently known as Mesa Proving Grounds is developed.
It’s the first time Mesa will consider zoning developer DMB Associates’ tract of prime property for a planned community. That, Mesa planning director John Wesley told the planning and zoning board, would allow for flexibility with the overall mixed set of housing, retail and office use for the area.
Such a zoning will “address changing market needs,” Wesley said.
That discussion goes along the lines of what city leaders, especially the economic development department have been pushing for lately — attracting a younger population to Mesa with high-paying, quality jobs.
What’s not ironed out yet is how zoning will be implemented and who developers will go to for approval of site plans at every stage of development — the council, a city board or city staff.
Planning board member Frank Mizner pointed out that the last time a planned community zoning was discussed, the question was what should be the balance between giving developers planning flexibility versus the chance for public review at each stage.
Wesley said that’s still to be resolved.
The city expects to receive at least two more applications for this kind of zoning. One of them, could be for the Pacific Proving LLC property just south of DMB’s — about 1,800 acres of the remaining parcel previously owned by General Motors.
In Mesa, a Planned Community District can be considered only for land upwards of 160 acres.
DMB recently got the City Council go-ahead to petition for annexation of its property, located southeast of Elliott and Ellsworth roads.
Grady Gammage Jr., an attorney representing DMB, said that Mesa needs to “think bigger and better” for the 21st Century.
DMB has applied for an amendment to the General Plan, to get the Mixed Use/Community designation.
“To get more jobs, we needed to be creative,” Gammage said, adding that a planned community designation would lend itself to changes as determined by the market.
That means higher density buildings and smaller streets designed for people as much as for cars and trucks.
With its proximity to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Arizona State University Polytechnic campus and with views to the Superstition Mountains to the east, DMB hopes to attract companies and jobs from tourism, hospitality, wellness, aeronautical and educational sectors.
The goal is to attract the “CEO-types” and the “creative Gen-X bloggers,” Gammage said.
With that in mind, DMB specified its plans to divide the land into different land-use groups, or areas each with their own unique character. For instance, an area designated “general urban” would have buildings up to a 7-story height, while the urban core, one of which is planned near the Loop 202, would have shopping and housing buildings stretching as high as 20 stories.
The City Council is expected to move forward on the project this fall.