If you haven’t visited Mesa lately, you will be pleasantly surprised at the growth and redevelopment that has been taking place. The city saw some tough times during the recent economic downturn; many businesses were shuttered, and entire regions changed dramatically. Additionally, the foreclosure crisis affected virtually every neighborhood, with distressed and vacant houses all too common.

Things have been changing of late, though, and in a big way! No longer can you drive down any street in the city and find boarded-up, abandoned properties. Investors who buy foreclosed homes picked up and refurbished most of the vacant houses. Neighborhoods that once were blighted now experience pride of ownership. House values have risen in these neighborhoods as well, though homes are still selling at affordable prices.

Since the Phoenix Light Rail opened all the way to Mesa Drive, a lot of new businesses have popped up along the route. Several upscale residential projects are under way as well. Downtown Mesa has gained exciting new retail and dining establishments, including a microbrewery; several colleges and universities have opened branches in the area. The crown jewel continues to be the Mesa Arts Center, where local and national shows can be enjoyed.

Mesa Drive, Southern Avenue, and Dobson and Broadway Roads all have been extensively rebuilt, with modern intersections, crosswalks and lots of public art. The Fiesta District also is in the stages of being redeveloped; Fiesta Mall has gained several new tenants, and surrounding vacant storefronts are gradually being occupied. Mesa Community College is growing every year, and has received an extensive facelift at its Dobson Road entrance. A brand new police substation and fire station, along with an ever-expanding hospital and medical complex, keep things safe, and a large premium apartment development has almost been completed.

Mesa Riverview is experiencing similar growth and diversification. There are several new office buildings going in on the east end of the complex; exciting new restaurants and retailers have made their homes on the western side. There are many more choices for dining than just a few short years ago, all easily accessible from Riverview Park, the new Sheraton hotel, and the Chicago Cubs’ Spring Training Complex just across Dobson Road.

Infill development projects are reducing blighted and underused areas. Modern townhomes, apartments, and custom homes are sprouting up in places that for years were empty lots, all the way to the eastern reaches of the city. A huge expansion, both residential and commercial, is occurring to the southeast, with Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and the sprawling Eastmark development leading the way.

As I write this, I am sitting in a brand new coffee shop occupying a building that had been vacant for years. With continued economic improvement in the greater Phoenix area, Mesa will continue to be an integral part of that growth. As a long-time resident of this city, I am thrilled by the transformation. I encourage anyone contemplating a move to take a good long look at the city of Mesa!