We couldn't help but raise an eyebrow when we saw the Economist's headline "City of the Future" and realized it referred to Mesa, the rather bland, ultra-suburban neighbor of Phoenix.
But the international weekly seems to really dig Mesa's attempt to mold a new city center out of nothing. In any case, it's quite a coup for Mesa to get this kind of wide-scale, positive attention -- the Economist is one of the world's most influential and well-read business magazines.
Mesa's new mayor, Scott Smith (left), is quoted prominently in the article, which concerns the development of new urban core at the automobile proving grounds that General Motors abandoned and around the all-important Gateway airport. From the Economist article:
The forward-looking part of the plan is that Mesa will be built around an airport. Rather than pushing air traffic to the fringe of the city, as most cities try to do, Mesa will build around its runways. It hopes to become what John Kasarda of the University of North Carolina calls an "aerotropolis"--a city as tied to air traffic as 19th-century cities were to railways.
The new development has been viewed skeptically by some, naturally. But the city is paving the way for the plan, and it seems to be worth a shot. The cash-poor city needs new, vibrant businesses like an accident victim needs a blood transfusion.
The land in southeast Mesa is a diamond in the rough Whether the city's future is so bright -- only time will tell.-- Ray Stern