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Redevelopment at and around Mesa Arizona Temple shaping a new downtown

Posted 6/29/21

The Mesa Arizona Temple, 101 S. LeSueur, has been closed for renovation and will be reopened at the end of the year. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced will be holding a public …

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Redevelopment at and around Mesa Arizona Temple shaping a new downtown


Downtown Mesa has received a facelift as private investors redeveloped and invested in the Mesa Arizona Temple and the area surrounding it.

Total capital investment in construction and real estate in Mesa has increased from $10 million in 2014 to nearly $138 million in 2020. It has more than doubled just since 2019, according to the Economic Development Project Success dataset in the city of Mesa’s data portal.

The total projected square footage of construction and real estate projects in Mesa has expanded from 2,000 square feet in 2012 to just over 1.4 million square feet in 2021, according to the dataset.

Downtown Mesa has been under construction as several new developments have been undertaken.

Angelica Guevara, the downtown transformation project manager, has worked to assist developers and facilitate questions that arise as the project has progressed.

Guevara believes that this project will help facilitate economic development and redevelopment along Main Street.

This new plan will “bring a sense of place to the downtown Mesa area,” Guevara said. “It’s a transition between the old and the new.”

Much of the land that was bought and built upon was either unowned or underutilized and the city is taking this opportunity to redevelop and repurpose the area, Guevara said.

One of the projects in this redevelopment plan is the construction of a high-end luxury apartment complex called the Grove, Guevara said. This complex is being built west of the temple on land that was previously commercially owned or vacant, Guevara said.

This apartment complex is “a high-density project with an urban design,” Guevara said. “This is great because it will show a demand for this kind of housing in the downtown area.”

The bottom of the complex contains some commercial units and all 240 units of the building have been leased, Guevara said. She believes that this project will have a great return for Mesa.

Mesa temple project

Gary Porter, owner of Porter Brothers, is the general contractor hired by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to renovate the Mesa Arizona Temple. The project was completed earlier this year, Porter said.

“We gutted the interior for better flow and utilization of square footage,” Porter said.

The church made several changes to the building to update and be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and “enhance the structure in case of a seismic event,” Porter said.

Porter called the temple “an oasis in the desert.” He believes that the temple will be a beautiful, visitor-friendly place where a peaceful spirit can reside.

“A lot of time, money and effort went in to make this project a success,” Porter said.

This project was not completed by one man alone and Porter commended Dawson and Spencer Stewart, the project manager and superintendent respectively, for the “marvelous job they did in bringing this project to fruition.”

David Davis, principal designer in the private firm Dale Gardon Design, helped create the overall vision for the temple historic district.

This district spans from Mesa Drive to Main Street and from Second Street to two streets east of the temple.

The overall vision for the Mesa Arizona Temple project was to improve the grounds and the property surrounding them to protect the integrity of the temple, Davis said.

Much of the surrounding area was in disrepair, “we surgically repaired it, lot by lot, parcel by parcel, and redeveloped the area,” Davis said.

Some of the historic buildings that were previously in the district were bulldozed and replaced. Many of these buildings were built in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s and did not fare well in this environment, Davis said.

“They were not major architectural structures and the disrepair was so advanced that to re-renovate would be time-consuming and costly,” Davis said.

The more nondescript ones were removed as they did not have any historical architecture. They were replaced with housing that provides new opportunities for people from different economic backgrounds, Davis said.

“Diversifying the residential options also invites a more diverse population into the neighborhood that had not previously been there,” Davis said.

Davis also helped design the Grove, which takes up 3 acres on Main Street. He said that he designed a higher-density product because with the transit line so close it calls for more housing development.

The lower level of the Grove was designed with higher concrete ceilings to accommodate for commercial use. The commercial spaces of the buildings have been leased to a bookstore, a snack and coffee shop and a church-use information center, Davis said.

“The biggest change and the biggest impact of this project will be the change in perception of Main Street,” Davis said. “Right now, people see Main Street as a quiet street short on residents and businesses, this project will create more live action.”

The essence of this project will add value to the property and the high level of interest will ripple down the rest of the street, Davis said. Davis believes that the Grove is only a start and the impact of it will be seen for years as others will soon follow suit in redeveloping.

“The owner of the Grove took a courageous role in making an impact in downtown Mesa when not many people believed in Main Street and the temple historic district,” Davis said. “They created value where there was none before.” Cooperation between the city and various partners as they worked together is what made this project a success, Davis said.

The Mesa Arizona Temple has been closed for renovation and will be reopened at the end of the year. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Friday that it will be holding a public open house from Oct. 16 through Nov. 20. According to church policy, the temple is normally only open to members of the church holding a recommend, but all are welcome to see the updates that were made during this open house.

Editor’s note: Savanna Lee is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.