One year after The Grove on Main began in fall 2018, as a giant hole hidden behind a fence, the retail-residential complex looms over the eastern edge of downtown Mesa.
Together with a complete renovation of the interior and grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple, a $75 million “urban neighborhood” breaking ground later this month and the start of construction of Arizona State University’s building, The Grove on Main Street is the most striking indication yet of the revolution coming to the downtown landscape.
The Grove is well on its way to putting its stamp on the change.
“It’s our first crane in the air in downtown Mesa, which is an exciting time,’’ said Jeff McVay, Mesa’s manager of downtown transformation, alluding to The Grove’s status as the first major downtown redevelopment project headed toward completion.
Two large buildings are scheduled for completion in November and others in January, said Carl Duke, vice president of City Creek Reserve, the real estate arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
“The project is coming along. We are almost completely framed out on the tallest and largest building. It’s the first building to be delivered,’’ Duke said.
Overall, The Grove will include 243 apartments in four buildings varying from four to two stories. Nine historic bungalows along First Avenue are also scheduled for renovations.
The four-story apartment building at Mesa Drive and Main Street is hard to miss, with the steel frame of the new Family Discovery Center located nearby.
The interactive genealogy center will be clad in a distinctive stone finish while The Grove buildings will sport a brick and stucco finish, Duke said.
To advance the new look of this long-neglected area, City Council two weeks ago approved the first of several unique 50-year maintenance agreements with City Creek Reserve.
Those agreements pave the way for a themed streetscape with lush landscaping to tie the temple and Grove on Main Street projects together.
The first pact covers landscaping along First Avenue, billed as the grand entrance to the temple district. City officials anticipate the church will pay about $580,000 for the area alone.
The future maintenance agreements are expected to come before Council in the next couple of months and would cover part of Main Street in front of the temple, as well as LeSueur, Hobson and Second Avenue.
“They are trying to create a street theme around these projects,’’ McVay said. “This is the gateway to the temple, one of the few places in the city where we have a terminus view. They really wanted to make this a ceremonial street.’’
The Grove is located immediately west of the iconic temple, which also features lush new grounds.
Since the temple closed in May 2018, the goal has been for both projects to open in tandem by the end of 2020. A Facebook page shows major progress on the temple project as well, although no grand opening date has been announced.
“It’s by far the most important issue we face on the project,’’ Duke said. “We would like what we are building to compliment the temple building.’’
An open house at the temple is anticipated, giving non-members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a rare opportunity to tour the temple.
It opened in 1927, the first of seven temples the church would build in Arizona.
The church’s temple district landscaping will augment a major Mesa street reconstruction project financed with bonds approved by voters in 2013 and 2014.
“We will bring this street up to a base level. They will install lush landscaping on the sides of the street as well as the median,’’ McVay said.
He said the landscaping will include a “selfie platform’’ where visitors can take a picture of themselves with the temple in the background.
“I think it will be some of the most impressive landscaping and courtyards in the East Valley,’’ Duke said.
Meanwhile, another major project is about to get underway after more than two years of planning.
The Palladium Grid, a unique office-apartment building wrapped around the Pomeroy Street garage, will occupy 3.3 acres fronting Main Street.
The mixed-use development is directly across Mesa Drive from The Grove on Main and to the east of Benedictine University.
“We will bring morning, noon and evening dining. It will be a great place for meeting and socializing and will mesh beautifully with the existing businesses and restaurants currently operating on Main Street,” boasted Tony Wall, Palladium principal and founder of 3W Management.
Developed in partnership with the city Benedictine University Mesa and Palladium, The GRID “is exactly the type of development we want to see in downtown Mesa,” Mayor John Giles said in a prepared statement.
The GRID’s residential plan calls for four levels of “urban flats” atop the Pomeroy Parking Garage as well as urban flats and rowhomes.
The 75 flats, described by Wall as “micro-units designed with students and young professionals in mind,” will be around 400 square feet with floor-to-ceiling views of the mountains, galley kitchens and built-in furniture.
On the top three floors above those flats, 196 luxury “sky apartments” will be built. Each floor will feature a private urban living room lounge with a fireplace, balconies and glass walls and residents will have access to special event space for private functions and a rooftop lounge.
The Grid community also will have 15 rowhomes with a three-level walk-up. Each rowhome will have a private dooryard, reserved private garage parking, a great room living area, master suite with walk-in closets on the second floor and a third-level that can be turned into an office, second suite or two bedrooms.
Mesa amended The Grid’s development agreement several times and reduced the parking requirements to help Wall complete the project, scheduled for groundbreaking Feb. 24.
“The GRID is exactly the type of development we want to see in downtown Mesa,” Mayor John Giles said in a prepared statement.
“Building residential, restaurant and office space on top of an underutilized parking garage will add tremendously to our growing urban neighborhood. “
“I’m excited to see another crane in downtown Mesa’s skyline,” he added.
Giles predicted in 2018, the temple reconstruction and The Grove would be the first major new downtown projects completed and others would follow.
Duke’s project got off to a controversial start because it required the leveling of modest 1940s and 1950s bungalows, considered early examples of Mesa’s suburbanization, to make room for the underground garage.
While historic preservationists cringed at the damage to the Temple Historic District, the project faced little opposition from city officials, who had been urging the church for years to upgrade the area.
City Creek merely waited for a 180-day moratorium period to expire before bulldozing the 13 historic bungalows, which are largely being replaced by a series of 23 rowhouses and eight single-family homes.