Mesa, shopping center reach deal to demolish crumbling signs - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa, shopping center reach deal to demolish crumbling signs

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Posted: Monday, June 20, 2011 5:02 pm | Updated: 4:41 pm, Tue Nov 1, 2011.

The high-profile deteriorating signs at the vacant Fiesta Village will be torn down within 20 days after a lengthy battle between Mesa and the shopping center’s owner.

The two parties ended a months-long legal skirmish with an announcement Monday that allows the center’s owner to have the same amount of signage when the site is redeveloped.

The 17-acre shopping Fiesta Village is one of the East Valley’s most prominent failed centers and its condition has long irritated neighbors and the city.

“Those signs have really been one of the symbols of the deterioration of that corner and they’ve been nonconforming uses,” Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh said. “We don’t permit signs like that in developments these days.”

Mesa had ordered the Phoenix-based W.M. Grace Development Co. to remove the three signs by Nov. 1, 2010, because they exceeded the city’s rules for being out of use and because they were a safety hazard. Grace responded the signs were legal and eventually appealed a city demolition order in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The battle was part of a larger feud stemming from city requests to better maintain the property and its deteriorating buildings. Those issues have largely been addressed.

“They’re working with us to try to keep the graffiti and debris and weeds to a minimum and to keep the buildings safe and secure,” Kavanaugh said.

Grace is working to get new tenants at the once-thriving center on the northeast corner of Alma School Road and Southern Avenue, Kavanaugh said. He doubts those plans are realistic because of reports showing the area has more storefronts than the neighborhood will support. The city has maintained Grace’s only option is to redevelop the site as a mixed-use project with offices, housing and a smaller amount of retail.

Those efforts should be boosted with plans for a new Southern Avenue streetscape, Kavanaugh said. The city will release design concepts soon that will add landscaping, linear parks and other features to boost the appeal of the Fiesta District, between Alma School and the border with Tempe.

Fiesta Village sits where the city plans what Kavanaugh calls “a pretty dramatic entryway.”

“I think they understand now that those improvements could be very valuable in terms of the redevelopment of their property,” Kavanaugh said.

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