Tuesday, December 29, 2015

International Existing Building Code Analysis - Downtown Mesa - RFP Announcement - Adaptive Reuse

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is being advertised for use in submitting information that will be used to select a firm/individual with whom the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) hopes to negotiate an agreement for the described services.

Consultant will perform an analysis of a certain number of existing structures in downtown Mesa in accordance with Chapter 14 of the 2015 International Existing Building Code with the purpose of creatively analyzing what alterations, repairs, or additions would be needed to achieve potential changes of occupancy without requiring full compliance with Chapters 5 through 13, except where compliance with other provisions is specifically required by the 2015 IEBC.

It will be essential for the consultant to think creatively and critically about the opportunities of each individual building and the most cost-efficient way to meet the goal of maintaining or increasing the current degree of public safety, health and general welfare in the building. The consultant will be expected to work in concert with the City of Mesa’s Building Safety department.

Responses will be accepted until Friday, January 29, 2016. A copy of the full RFP is available on the NEDCO website at nedco-mesa.org/IEBCRFP.html.

Monday, November 16, 2015

10 Top Tips to Get Your Business Ready for the Holidays.

Ho! Ho! Ho!  - It’s Holiday Season - Merry Main Street is BACK! by Lani Lott, NEDCO Consultant

The countdown to the busiest time of the year for most businesses has begun.  With less than 40 days until Christmas, there is no time to waste to make sure you have your marketing in place, your employees geared up and YOUR customers excited to come downtown, shop with you and then enjoy the array of festivities planned.   The City, Downtown Mesa Association, NEDCO, RAILmesa, VisitMesa and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce are busy planning numerous activities beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving (November 28) and continuing through January 3, 2016.  Do the math - that is six full weeks of events and promotions for your business to leverage.   Let’s get going and make this the best year for both Downtown Mesa as well as for your business.   To kick-start your creative juices, below are 10 tips to keep in mind as you set your marketing and promotional calendar. 

Tip 1:  Be in the Know
Make sure you know what is going on during the next six weeks.   Regularly check the Merry Main Street website www.merrymainstreet.com and Downtown Mesa’s website www.downtownmesa.com.  Watch for email updates and attend all merchant meetings.  Activities are being added daily and you don’t want to be left out.   Inform your employees of the various activities, when the events are planned and how you will be participating.  Most importantly get the word out to YOUR customers.   Incorporate the Merry Main Street website into your holiday advertising and printed marketing materials.  Spread the word -- the holidays in Downtown Mesa should NOT be the best kept secret --- we want the entire Valley to know about Merry Main Street and Downtown Mesa.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mayor John Giles Love Letter To Mesa: Mayor Giles, native of Mesa, talks about his life in Mesa, and his commitment to help make Downtown Mesa all that it can be. 

When did you first come to Mesa? How did you get here?

"I was born in Mesa, Arizona. I was born in what is now Benedictine University at the corner of Main and Hibbert St. My family lived at 250 W 9th St which is just on the other side of University from here, and I went to all local schools including Westwood High School. After I graduated from ASU Law School I began practicing law at 30 W 1st Street, a short walk from where we are sitting right now. When I started my own law practice I ventured out all the way over to 44 W University it's about a mile from here. When I first got involved in the whole historic reuse idea I moved to 238 W 2nd Strett which is even closer to the Mayor's Office. So, I have spent most of my life, especially my adult professional life in this neighborhood. I literally started my life and was raised in Downtown Mesa. So, it is in my DNA, I am a Downtown Mesa guy. I have great memories as a child of going with my mom shopping for whatever we needed on Main Street. At Newberry's and a place called LaSuers Men's Store and Everybody's Drug Stores, my friends worked at the lunch counter at the drug store. I remember the transition from Downtown Mesa to Tri City Mall and how difficult that was for Downtown Mesa back in the 1970's and saw the effects of the freeways and Fiesta Mall siphoning off life and vitality and traffic from Downtown Mesa. So, I have seen Downtown Mesa at it's heyday and I have seen Downtown Mesa at it's low point. When I was on the City Council in the 1990's we tried to do everything we could think of to find a pulse on Main St. We were not particularly successful at that. What we were successful at, and I am very proud to have been a part of, was the decision to locate the Mesa Arts Center in Downtown Mesa at the corner of Center and Main Streets to revitalize our Downtown. We could have put it anywhere, and there was a lot of pressure to put it elsewhere. I am very excited about the good things in Downtown Mesa, about the way it is, but I am also excited about it getting better. It is a personal thing for me, I would take a lot of personal satisfaction from being a part of revitalizing Downtown Mesa."

What is your most central mission here?

"My most central mission is to increase the prosperity of Mesa. It is not focused specifically on Downtown Mesa, but that is of course a part of it. My job is to help the folks who live in Dobson Ranch, Eastmark, Falcon Field, the Groves, Riverview and everywhere in Mesa to take it to the next level: to give them the opportunities to have a good job, and good schools, for this to be a great place for them to live and work."

What are your favorite things about Mesa's downtown?

"Well I love the Mesa Arts Center. It is a world class facility and I am anxious to shine as bright a light as I can on the Mesa Arts Center because it deserves it. Downtown Mesa is very authentic. It is not a Disneyland re-creation of a  downtown: it is the real thing. We have credentials, we have credibility for being a genuine downtown. I am getting tired of hearing how good our bones are. The saddest word in the English language is "potential". I am anxious for it to reach it's potential. I love the restaurants, but I want the restaurants to be dramatically a bigger part of downtown then they are now.  I do love what we have and the opportunity for more. I love the genuineness of the whole place, it really is a good old downtown."

What are your hopes for the future, what do you envision when Downtown Mesa reaches it's potential?

"What I see is people. They are not just going to eat in a restaurant, or the Mesa Arts Center or Benedictine University or other universities or just going to retail shops or taking their kids to school. They are doing all of the above and doing other things too. I think residential options are certainly a part of what we need to bring to Downtown Mesa as well. People need to live here, it can't be a 9 to 5 place, it needs to be a 24 hour place. So the vision is people, more people, more businesses but also more places to live."

What can we as residents do from the ground up to help?

"You are doing it. There is a great Downtown culture and support group and enthusiasm. I love the folks who are already committed to living downtown and doing renovations to existing homes and there is a real renaissance in our old neighborhoods right now. We need to just keep encouraging people to live in downtown Mesa and to open businesses here. We need to have folks encourage and support the City Council to make people understand that this is a good use of city resources to revitalize downtown Mesa. We need more attractions and more reasons for people to come downtown Mesa. We need the city, and the Mayor, to be very proactive in jumpstarting some good quality development downtown; residential, entertainment and other good uses. Additionally, the folks that are here need to continue to be enthusiastic about it. The makerspace environment and the arts environment that is great. It is going to get stronger when we get Artspace down here, that will help with the arts community. It is an ideal fit for downtown Mesa with the Mesa Arts Center the artists that live there can work teaching at the Mesa Arts Center in addition to what they do in their own studios. It is inevitable that it will happen. I struggle with the patience to let it happen, I want to jumpstart it anyway I can."

Mayor Giles expresses a great identity for downtown Mesa: a unique combination of ties to our historic community with the vision of a prosperous and vibrant Downtown. He sees arts and culture infusing a new inviting vibe to Downtown Mesa while preserving our authentic Main Street identity. 

Mayor Giles's Love Letter To Mesa is "#nextmesa starts Downtown"

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Downtown Mesa Celebrates the Arrival of Smitholator Cookies and Prime Cut and Sew!

Friday June 5th, 2015 was a red letter day in Downtown Mesa, Arizona! Two new, unique businesses both had their Grand Openings! Smitholator Cookies, homemade designer cookies and gifts  opened on Main Street and Prime Cut and Sew, Barber and Boutique opened on S. Macdonald St.

Smitholator Cookies

Heather Smith at her Grand Opening
Heather Smith, owner of Smitholator Cookies says says that Mesa " Is where my heart is! I could not see Smitholator Cookies living anywhere else!"

She opened her online custom cookie bakery in December 2011 and for the past two years has been planning to open her cookie store on Main Street.

From the beautiful glass walled bakery  to the eclectic fun assortment of gifts, this shop is a delight to visit!

Smitholator City of Mesa Cookies!

Visitors can buy cookie making accessories, fun retro-themed gifts, and even cookies for your favorite puppy! And then there are the delicious and beautiful cookies! Smitholator Cookies has yummy treats for all and will custom design your cookies to order for any occasion. Have a seat, grab a cookie or two, and enjoy a glass of delicious Danzeisen milk in this cute shop! Custom cookies can be ordered in person or on the web.
The beautiful kitchen, watch the cookies being made!

Smitholator Cookies is open for business at 124 W Main Street Mesa, Arizona 85201
Hours: Sunday 11Am-4 Pm, Mon, Tue by appointment, Wed-Sat 11am-6PM
 Smitholator Cookie Website

Prime Cut and Sew

Friends grab a cut and shave at Prime Cut and Sew

Zeke Mendoza, Paul Mallory, and Roman Romero all attended Westwood High School together and now have joined forces to open Prime Cut and Sew in Downtown Mesa. Their Barber and Boutique also opened for business on Friday on South Macdonald Street. For Zeke it is "Bringing it all back home" after he left to study fashion in Los Angeles. He and Roman had another clothing store in South Scottsdale but they "never felt like part of the community.

On Sunday they reflected that they were all overwhelmed by the welcome they have received back home in Mesa.

Many Downtowners visited and welcomed them to the neighborhood including NEDCO and Mayor of Mesa John Giles. 

They are bringing hip street wear, motorcycles, and an old fashioned concept of the neighborhood barber where friends can come and talk.

This combination seems to perfectly mirror Mesa's growing Downtown identity of combining traditions of our past with new direction and energy for the future. Roman likes Mesa's "Unlimited potential, and that was certainly present in the over 300 people who came out for Prime Cut and Sew's opening party. 

The mission of Prime Cut and Sew is to be welcoming and inclusive while bringing diversity to Main Street.

Paul says "Mesa's time is now", and they hope to contribute with art, fashion shows and events to make Prime Cut and Sew a part of Mesa's Downtown Community.

Zeke, Roman and Paul (from top left) are thrilled
 to be back home in Downtown Mesa
Prime Cut and Sew is located at 61 S Macdonald Street in Mesa, Arizona 85201

They are open Tues-Sat 10am-8pm and Sunday 10am-4pm

Phone number and website coming soon.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Creative Placemaking: Transforming Communities through the Arts, Part 2

This coming Monday NEDCO, with local partners Mesa Arts Center and LISC Phoenix, are bringing the regional Creative Placemaking conversation to Mesa! Join Jaime Bennett, Executive Director of ArtPlace America, Artplace grant recipients Greg Esser of Roosevelt Row, Cindy Ornstein of the Mesa Arts Center, and Tracy Taft from the Sonoran Desert Alliance and the Curley School in Ajo, as well as Mesa Mayor John Giles.
Erik Takeshita leads the discussion with Naomi Cytron,
Bedoya, and Beth Siegel at the first creative
event at the Herberger.

Our last event, sponsored by LISC Phoenix, NEDCO, Mesa Arts Center, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, was held at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix and brought together over 250 local artists, developers and professionals interested in Creative Placemaking. This event will follow up and expand on that conversation. Last time a small group was able to meet and continue the conversation, and the same will be true of this event, with an "after-party" and conversation at the Mesa Urban Garden.

The event is free, but an RSVP is required at Eventbrite

The conversation after the event brought together a 
number of Creative Placemaking practitioners to discuss 
how this tool is used in the Valley.
Creative Placemaking is increasing the vitality of communities across America, in large measure due to support from the national consortium of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions behind the work of ArtPlace America. Hear from ArtPlace's Executive Director on what is happening with this movement, its impact on community development, and how you can help foster cross-sector collaborative work in service of your community.

Monday, June 8, 2015
4:30 - Refreshments/Networking
5:00-7:00 - Panel and Q &A
7:00-9:00 - Conversation & Networking

Friday, May 29, 2015

Downtown Mesa Celebrates the Arrival of Valley Metro Light Rail Test Trains!

Welcome Valley Metro Light Rail to Downtown Mesa!

NEDCO joins all of Downtown Mesa in congratulating Valley Metro with the arrival of the very first Light Rail Test Train #101A on Wed May 27, 2015. The exact time and date of the first train's arrival was not known due to the unpredictable nature of the test, but a few lucky people saw the train and quickly the word spread. One of the lucky ones to witness this long-anticipated moment was Mesa's Mayor John Giles who came out to welcome the train around 6PM. 

The trains will continue to be tested along the Central Mesa Light Rail Extension from Sycamore Station, the current terminus to just past Mesa Drive.

The question on everybody's mind right now is WHEN will the train be open for passengers? That question will be revealed at a public celebration of the fifth milestone for the Central Mesa Extension and to welcome the arrival of the Light Rail trains to Downtown Mesa on Wed June 3, 2015 from 9:00-10:00 AM on the steps of the Mesa City Hall Plaza at 20 E Main Street in Downtown Mesa.

Join NEDCO as the Celebration continues!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cindy Ornsteins Love Letter to Mesa

Cindy Ornstein Arts and Cultural Director for the City of Mesa
 and the Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center

In 2010, Cindy Ornstein arrived in Mesa for her first job interview for the position of the Arts and Cultural Director for the City of Mesa and the Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center.

Never having been to Mesa, or even Arizona, she arrived early and was captivated with the beauty of the area. Even from her first glimpses of the metro area she was impressed by the attention to including art in public spaces, such as on freeway bridges and walls. Coming from Michigan, with much older infrastructure, there was nothing like that.

Arriving downtown at the Mesa Arts Center, she was excited because of the potential that exists here. She was excited to see the beautiful facility with all its assets: studios, theaters, the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum and the stunning surrounds. She was also struck by the charming downtown Mesa. She immediately thought it had good bones on which to build. Lucky for Mesa, Cindy got the job. She oversees the Arizona Museum of Natural History, the I.D.E.A. Museum, the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, cultural events in the City of Mesa and, of course, the Mesa Arts Center. Cindy now makes her home in Mesa.

Since her arrival she has worked hard, not only to develop Mesas museums and the Arts Center to be nationally recognized destinations for arts and culture, but to connect them at the ground level with the community. Her desire is that the community understands that the Arts Center is theirs, and that together, we are all invested in making Mesa's Downtown an amazing place.

Interviewing Cindy was enlightening.  She says her mission, at heart, has always been that the arts are for everyone and that they are critical to a healthy, just, and successful society. I believe deeply that arts are important to community development, social fabric, economic development; all of it. I also believe that the assets of the arts, whether they be public buildings or non-profits, work in the public trust. When I was head of non-profits for many years I always said almost every opportunity I get that this organization, this venue, does not belong to me, or the staff or even the Board; it belongs to you, the community. Our responsibility is to manage it and keep it healthy, in the public trust because it is your place. That is what the arts should be all about.

So, in this case where we manage facilities that are literally owned by the public. My mission is for every citizen to feel pride, ownership and engagement with these assets and resources. That they are there, for their enrichment, to make their communities better, to make their children inspired to learn. Our job is to make an impact on the community in a positive way, in all the ways we can. It is really about finding the things that are going to be most effective, what the community is going to find delight in, those things that are going to make them come check it out and make them get involved more.

When asked about her favorite things in Mesas downtown she said It feels like community, it feels so good because we have independent mom and pop stores, it feels very accessible. I love its feel. I love that it is walkable. We already have potential to have a constant activation over time, I think. But it is charming. The trees, the size, the feel of it: it feels like a charming downtown.

Cindy has a vision for Downtown Mesa that builds on its good bones of community, a committed group of downtown activists, an arts community that is here, the influx of visitors for the museums, cultural events, performances, and classes at the Mesa Arts Center.

She is excited that Mesa will become even more of a destination with the opening of the light rail extension into Downtown Mesa. She sees Downtown as an increasingly welcoming place where fun and unusual activities are going on. A place that is vibrant and inviting, with public art where community members of all ages can gather together in public spaces, cultural venues and enjoy places to eat and drink. Cindy envisions a packed events calendar in a beautiful, active, art-infused environment that is a place where strong partnerships create involvement in the city for its citizens, visitors, arts organizations, the city itself, and those in the region connected by the Light Rail.

Cindy has chosen for her Love Letter to Mesa “’Mesas Charming Downtown-Good Bones, because, though we all know we have more work to do to make Mesa what we envision, it is all about the foundation we already have here to build on for an exciting, welcoming, involving, and charming Downtown Mesa, Arizona.

Find out more about all the arts and cultural opportunities in the City of Mesa at http://www.mesaaz.gov/things-to-do/arts-culture

Information on upcoming festivals, performances and studios classes at http://www.mesaartscenter.org

Friday, May 1, 2015

Love Letter To Mesa❤️: Amy Del Castillo

Amy Del Castillo is the co-owner of Lulubell Toy Bodega in Downtown Mesa, Arizona and online toy manufacturers and distributors.

Previously located in Tucson, Amy has always wanted to move Lulubell to the Phoenix Metro area. She visited the downtowns of Phoenix, Gilbert, Chandler and Mesa and kept coming back to Mesa's downtown. She loved Mesa; the appearance, the feeling, and even though she did not know anyone else, she could just picture it as home. She loved the small town feel, the community, the look, and saw a tremendous potential in the area. 

Amy loves to be a part of things; making them happen and didn't see a better fit anywhere else. She knew it would take time and she was prepared for the challenge with the Central Mesa Light Rail construction beginning at the same time she moved her business to Mesa. She was optimistic that the Light Rail would ultimately be a great asset.

NEDCO's (Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation) business assistance helped Lulubell Toys during the light rail construction. She says, "being a small business with no staff, the NEDCO assistance was a lifesaver!"

Her business mission is to bring art of all kinds to Downtown Mesa and have a place for all kinds of artists to be.

Amy is invested in Mesa. She bought a house here and is putting down roots. For her, the best thing about number one, is the people. She has made new best friends here, her business neighbors have become partners in positive change and they help motivate each other. Together, they are all invested in making Mesa's Downtown an amazing place.

Now when she hears about another new business opening on Main or an ice cream shop opening she exclaims, "yes! It is so exciting now! It is like Christmas every day!" 

Amy has found Mesa to be a community where like-minded people with different backgrounds and interests can all come together. She thinks we can create a friendly, down to earth and supportive neighborhood.

Amy's Love Letter to Mesa: "I love the Community!"

Find out more about Lulubell Toy Bodega located at 128 W Main Street in Downtown Mesa: http://www.lulubelltoys.com