The Pomeroy parking garage, a bland but functional structure near Mesa Municipal Court, will disappear behind a new veneer of three-story row houses when a long-awaited redevelopment project rises downtown.
Real estate developer Tony Wall, of 3W Management in Scottsdale, said he is close to landing financing for The GRID Mesa near Main Street and Mesa Drive.
The Mesa City Council granted Wall a significant break last week by allowing him to avoid building his own 140-space garage after he convinced city officials that it is unnecessary for an urban development more attuned to walking and mass transit.
The second garage would have been at Main Street and Pomeroy, according to the project’s original site plan.
Wall’s amended development agreement calls for him to build a resident courtyard instead, but also protects the city by allowing Mesa to get back 75 spaces if the parking proves inadequate for municipal purposes.
In all, the city will retain 265 spaces while Wall will license 339 spaces for The GRID. McVay said the agreement will not compromise parking for court employees and for court visitors.
He said the number of spaces is more consistent with an urban project, where cars are less important than a suburban project.
City officials view the novel seven-story combination of office space, row houses, one- and two-bedroom apartments and “micro units’’ as an important part of downtown Mesa’s renaissance.
They say it compliments other development, including Benedictine University next door and the new Arizona State University building near City Hall.
ASU’s Mesa City Center campus is viewed as the cornerstone of an Innovation District that will focus on new technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality.
The GRID lost a key potential tenant, Co+Hoots, a co-working space company in Phoenix, but is working on finding a replacement that will foster the creativity and collaboration envisioned by the Innovation District, Wall said.
“I think the Innovation District is so important to downtown. It’s going to bring new life to downtown,’’ Wall said. “We are in serious discussions with a number of innovative companies.’’
Jeff McVay, Mesa’s downtown transformation manager, said the Innovation District requires a learning institution, a creative business network and a place suitable for the exchange of ideas.
“Downtown Mesa has the bones of a great place. New, high-quality residential will put the meat on the bones and will create the human vibrancy that will support an Innovation District,’’ McVay wrote in an email.
The GRID also is located on the west side of Mesa Drive, across from The Residences at Main and Mesa Drive, under development by City Creek Reserve, the real estate division of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Although the garage would be ensconced inside the development’s core, it would still function as a parking facility for the court, and as critical parking for Wall’s future tenants under an agreement worked out with the city.
Wall said he knows of no other redevelopment project in the Phoenix metro area that incorporates a city parking garage with new housing.
He said the row houses, his premiere product, will wrap around the garage in an L-shaped configuration.
Wall considers the arrangement a unique public-private partnership with the city, and praised Mesa for buying into his development.
“It’s a pretty good use for a public space that doesn’t have anything much going on,’’ Wall said, noting that the garage is sparsely used. “The mix of housing types is pretty important to us.’’
Karrin Taylor Robson, Wall’s partner and a Mesa native, said very little new housing has been built in central Mesa for decades. She said the ASU building will help the market, but a market already exists.
“There’s pent-up demand,’’ Taylor Robson, the daughter of retired Mesa state legislator Carl Kunasek, said. “There’s no new product.’’
Wall said his target market includes millennials who want the convenience of living near entertainment and other services, along with young professionals who might be lured by the row houses.
The GRID features 15 three-story row houses, 75 “micro units’’ that are 450 square feet and similar to a studio apartment, and 196 “sky apartments’’ on the fourth through seventh floors, with a rooftop lounge on top, according to Wall’s website.
“In the beginning of our design, we exceeded the city standards’’ for parking, Wall said. “Not as many spaces are going to be needed per apartment’’ because of other transit options, such as walking, ride-sharing services and light rail.
“If you look at the downtown Mesa lifestyle, you have so many restaurant and entertainment opportunities,’’ Wall said.
Wall conceded the changes in the development agreement will save him money, but he said it is more of a marketing decision than a financial decision.
“We are very, very close’’ to obtaining financing, Wall said, an obstacle in the past. He signed his first development agreement with Mesa in fall 2017.
“It’s a big project. It’s the first real private investment in downtown,’’ Wall said, adding that he considers The Residences more of a church-related project. “We are the pioneers. It’s a hard mountain to climb.’’
Wall’s modified development agreement “represents a delay in project completion of up to one year,’’ according to a report written by McVay. It requires him to start construction by June 3 and finish by the end of December 2021.
The $63-million ASU building, now in its design phase, is also tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2021, according to a city web page.