20 May 2015

The Mayor's May 19 Media Briefing was .....Hmm, brief

Image from mayor's Facebook account
Your blogger appreciated receiving an invitation for the media briefing in City Hall scheduled for 2 o'clock.
Somewhat out of character for my punctuality usually arriving before time, I didn't get to City Hall until about 2:25 where the security station in the lobby told me the briefing was already over. Whoa! That was fast.
I had done my hours-long research on the topics ahead of time, looking forward to the Q&A, but had to settle for audio downloads from Mesa Channel 11 that were later provided @ 4:18 p.m. on the Mesa Now City Newsroom [hit the following link Mayor's Media Briefing 05.19.2015

Here's how much speaking time was spent on each topic in the provided audio - since readers of this blog were not there either you have the chance to listen to what the mayor said on the above link ... total in all about 20 minutes
  • Apple in Mesa 04:46
  • In DC with GPEC and U.S. Conference of Mayors 02:23
  • Looking to jump start new investments in downtown Mesa 02:48
  • Mesa March sales tax numbers 01:44
  • More on Apple 00:12
  • Used RFQ to possibly redevelop site at Main & Center 00:21
What gets my boxers twisted is to see an online posting written by Eric Jay Toll, who writes for The Phoenix Business Journal  on May 19, 2015 @ 11:21 a.m that was up on the Phoenix Business Blog ---- 2+ hours in advance of the scheduled media briefing!
Reasonable and fair-minded people might want to ask if John Giles is being selective, or perhaps playing favorites with certain reporters or certain news outlets, by giving an interview on Monday - the day before the scheduled media briefing - to one reporter?? . . . or are there other motivations?
Mesa jumpstarting downtown development in advance of light rail completion 
[Listen to what the mayor says in the 02:48 audio segment - it's short on specifics, although he says "I feel some urgency . . . "] 

Feeling some urgency, Mr. Mayor? Better late than never? 

Does the current mayor need a friendly reminder to get on-board the The Central Main Plan produced by the City of Mesa back in January 23, 2012 - three years and five months ago - here's the first lines from the Executive Summary:
"Managing the change that will take place within the Main Street Planning area will take creativity, flexibility, and forethought. Action is needed NOW to prepare the groundwork for the significant economic development and urban transformation that will take place with the extension of light rail . . ."
City of Mesa Central Main Plan 2012 
As far as so-called JUMPSTARTING downtown development in advance of light rail completion, the City of Mesa under the current administration is more of a Johnny-Come-Lately . . . the Central Mesa Light Rail Extension design and construction agreement was executed almost 4 years ago - plenty of time to plan ahead and prepare the groundwork for significant downtown economic and quality-of-life investments.

Moreover, the RFQ for one specific property located at 1 West Main Street was not issued until as late as April 7, 2015 - one month and two weeks ago! - with RFQs from developers due by 3:00 p.m on May 21, 2015.
It was not until two weeks ago on May 5, 2015 that the The Urban Land Institute made a posting

About that word used in the MesaNow Newsroom Press Release : JUMPSTARTING 
Does the mayor imply he's "late to the party" and wants to get there? The battery needs some juice? or Mesa's vehicle for downtown economic development needs to get started, [or has it stalled somehow?] when there are light rail trains on schedule to arrive at the stations on newly-installed tracks on Main Street? Somethin' is "off-track" and it ain't the trains.
Yes, Mr. Mayor,  Mesa it's not "Mayberry-esque"any more [if it every was like that 1950's TV comedy] . . . if you wanna stick to teleVISION metaphors please try MAKEOVER, or maybe SURVIVOR . . . or how about Green Acres?

According to page 15 of the city's RFQ City of Mesa RFQ for 1 West Main Street, and assuming everything goes according to the proposed timeline which is rarely does, initiation of project design will start Winter 2015 and initiation of project construction in Summer/Fall 2016.
... and a finished building will probably not be open until another year after that - two years after Valley Metro Light Rail is running on Main Street....and that means demolishing activities still going on in downtown after the completion of the lightrail extension at the signature lightrail Center Station in probably the most visible intersection in the whole downtown Main Street Planning Area whose business activities have suffered while the extension has been installed.
Over 450,000 annual visitors to the Mesa Arts Center could be seriously impacted.

JusticeTrax Logo
That one downtown location in the RFQ is privately-owned by Justice Trax [see more information and links below], Simon Keys, President, not on vacant or empty city-owned properties, and will have to be demolished for any proposed new construction. 
Downtown Mesa has plenty of empty land ripe for development by infill projects, so what's the deal with this redevelopment project at the most visible intersection and adjacent to downtown's signature light rail station?
According to page 8 in the RFQ link above, it turns out that the public will never know
The City of Mesa's commitment and potential contributions to this redevelopment include a stipulation that there will be no public hearing for developer entitlements.
Your city government will also use the Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET) to finance development, provide off-street parking through City-owned parking facilities, do the demolition of existing structures and/or site preparation, make infrastructure improvements or extensions as needed, provide Transaction Privilege (Sales) Tax Abatement, give the developer economic development utility rates for developments that meet minimum qualifications, and provide environmental assessment and remediation if necessary.

According to a report from the Office of Inspector General, JusticeTrax ran afoul of the FBI's Laboratory Division back in 2006 when a multi-year $4.3 Million dollar contract was terminated, with the FBI and JusticeTrax agreeing to a settlement that ending the LIMS contract with the resulting overall loss to the FBI of $1,175,015 https://oig.justice.gov/reports/FBI/a0633/final.pdf

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