Guest Editorial: Mesa Should Look to Scottsdale’s SkySong As It Tries to Parlay New ASU Center

By Recker McDowell —

Arizona State University and the city of Mesa recently broke ground on a new $73.5 million technology center aimed at sparking more development in the Main Street area.

ASU will house artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and 3-D printing and technology program at the new ASU @ Mesa City Center development.

Mesa leaders hope the ASU center will spur more development in their downtown area. There are already some other residential and commercial projects being built or in the works in downtown Mesa which has not seen the economic development payoffs of light rail enjoyed by downtown Tempe and downtown Phoenix.

ASU has been a key ingredient in the recent economic gains in Phoenix and Tempe. The school has also helped energize the former Los Arcos Mall site in southern Scottsdale into the mixed-used and innovation heavy ASU SkySong Center.

Scottsdale’s SkySong may prove the best roadmap for Mesa’s hopes to parlay the new ASU center into more economic development.

SkySong was born out of the closed down Los Arcos Mall at Scottsdale and McDowell roads after a proposed arena for the Arizona Coyotes never came to fruition.

SkySong’s developers (Plaza Companies and Holuloa Companies) along with the city of Scottsdale have had a longer-term, live-work and mixed use vision for the property. The result has been several office buildings, a hotel geared toward business travel, restaurants and apartments. Another new office building is planned.

That is exactly what Mesa wants to see along Main Street. Downtown Mesa might not have the cache of a Scottsdale address. But Main Street has the Mesa Arts Center, some cool special events and some new developments including the ASU center to start building some synergies and momentum.