Despite the fact that Downtown Mesa took a major hit last month when two of its beloved businesses (Evermore Nevermore and The Royale) closed down, there's no need to think it's the beginning of the end for the area's recent resurgence.
After all, Phoenix's Roosevelt Row has weathered the loss of more than a few cool shops and galleries over the years, partly due to the influx of even cooler businesses that replaced 'em.
We're hoping such will be the case in Mesa and that a new flock of entrepreneurs will open up shop along Main Street sometime in 2012. And apparently, so do the residents of the suburban city, as the Mesa City Council has been accepting ideas from its citizens about how to improve its downtown area.
7. A Skateboard Shop
The suburbs have always been major havens for skaters and Mesa is no exception. It boasts more skate parks than other cities in the Valley (save for Phoenix), and plenty of cats flying around empty neighborhood pools or jumping off landmarks. We've seen more than a few skaters doing their thing downtown before heading to The Underground to check out a hardcore show, so a groovy shop similar to Cowtown Skateboards would give them a place to grab some gear or upgrade their decks.
6. A Bar, Pub, or Nightclub
If Mesa's city fathers want to encourage people to visit downtown Mesa after dark, the place will definitely need a few more nightlife establishments. One or two alcohol emporiums are already located on Main (like Kirk's Sports Grill), so why not add a swank cocktail lounge or a laidback joint with a killer selection of spirits?
In fact, brewpub and nightclubs are among some of the top suggestions that have been submitted to the to the city council as a part of the aforementioned idea program.
5. A Used Record Store
There are a handful of antique and secondhand stores around downtown, but few offer much in the way of vintage records. The Nile Theatre hosts record swap meets twice a year, so audiophiles and music geeks are willing to make the trek to the East Valley to score rare and obscure records. Local vinyl junkie Michael Pawlicki recently opened his pop-up shop in Tempe, but has also admitted that he has "more records than he knows what to do with."
Maybe he'd consider launching another temporary store in Mesa.
4. An Urban Art Supply Store
Let's face it, downtown Mesa is a little stiff. Between the Mormon Temple, the polished Mesa Arts Center and all the formalwear/jewelry shops, it's pretty strict and proper. What the place needs is a serious injection of some urban or street culture to shake things up and add some liveliness to the mix.
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The folks at a place like Wet Paint or Just Blaze could potentially do that, serving up spray paint, art supplies, and a place for graf-heads to legally tag. Who knows? It might even lead to a few killer murals...
3. An Old-School Arcade
Back in the day, old-school arcades at Fiesta Mall and elsewhere were where gaming geeks wiled away the hours by pumping quarters into classic titles like Asteroids, Centipede, and Ms. Pac-Man. Weston Henry and painter Nathan Ross tried capturing the spirit of such gameplay palaces of the past with CADE Gallery, only to see it close after six months.
According to Google Maps, the easternmost terminus of the light rail ends approximately two miles from downtown Mesa. Since bus service costs around $2 and asking Valley residents to traverse that distance (or any other distance, for that matter) by foot is utterly laughable, Mesa's city government should consider hiring the iconic Ollie the Trolley or another service to shuttle folks to and from the light rail station for free on Second Fridays or during weekends. Which leads us to our last wish...
1. More People
If downtown Mesa's rebirth and burgeoning popularity is going to be sustained, it will definitely need more warm bodies on the sidewalks and inside businesses. The monthly Motorcycles on Main and Second Fridays are well and good, but there are at least 363 other days where few - if any - people are about. Maybe putting on other special events throughout the month or getting shopkeepers to keep their establishments open later hours might be the key.