AZ Central is reporting an aggressive effort to attract smaller, innovative businesses that would renovate existing buildings for new uses throughout Mesa is headed to the City Council for consideration.
The goal of the Adaptive Reuse Program is to promote and add incentives for repurposing existing structures, including expansions, and make it easier for business to do business in Mesa, said Angelica Guevara of Mesa's Development and Sustainability office.
Mesa provides many, but not all, services typical of such programs in other cities, including Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler.
Guevara has researched ways to organize the program to offer incentives to provide regulatory relief, clearer guidance and streamline approvals.
“We have actually, as a city, been doing a lot of that over the last several years without wrapping it up and putting a big bow on it,” Christine Zielonka, director of development services in the Development and Sustainability office, said to a city committee comprised of council members Kevin Thompson, Chris Glover and Alex Finter on June 20.
Examples included the Santander Consumer USA building on Southern Avenue, formerly a vacant commercial shopping center, and Benedictine University in downtown Mesa.
Benefits to having an adaptive use program, Guevara said, include attracting smaller businesses into existing buildings, creating jobs and sales tax revenue and stimulating redevelopment near the structure.
She acknowledged, however, that it can be challenging for business owners to remodel a vacant, possibly dilapidated building if it was built under an old code. That can make it more expensive and time-consuming for owners to ensure the building or its addition meets current standards.
During the presentation, Development and Sustainability office officials highlighted a few elements of other programs that Mesa does not offer, including:
- The Planning and Development Department includes an Office of Customer Advocacy, which Finter said of Mesa should have funded years ago.
- The city prioritizes adaptive reuse projects when processing historic preservation zoning applications in the program, expediting building permit review.
- Existing utility lines crossing property lines are allowed to remain.
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