At the Sycamore and Main Street transit center in west Mesa, commuters using the park-and-ride lot exit their vehicles and then walk toward the buses and trains - right past a perfectly good parking lot.
No cars are allowed there, and no explanation is given why.
|A vacant portion of the parking lot at the Sycamore Park-and-Ride lot in Mesa is shown on Wednesday, July 15, 2009. (Thomas Boggan, Tribune)|
But the property's broker said the reason can be found at the intersection of a changing Valley and a bad economy.
According to Charlotte Christian, a senior vice president with Colliers International, the parking lot adjacent to Main is part of a six-acre parcel for sale. Soon, she hopes, a buyer will come along with interest in taking advantage of a property located so close to a light-rail station.
"It has had interest for mixed-use development; retail on bottom and then some residential above it," Christian said.
In fact, she added, the attention paid to the land by developers nearly paid off, until financial reality hit.
"We had it in escrow twice, but because of the financial markets last fall the people who were interested in it have walked away for the time being," Christian said. "But we still think it's a good opportunity for someone when the market gets better."
Christian is banking on a turn toward a more urban style of living, with greater residential density and less emphasis on cars.
In 2007, she co-wrote an article for a publication specializing in commercial leasing news. "With the existing infrastructure in city cores, redeveloping and incorporating mixed uses and urban town centers is smart growth," Christian said.
Mesa Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh noted transit-oriented development can be found on the south side of Main.
On one corner, in a former Albertsons store, the upscale Hispanic market Mi Pueblo Supermercado has set up shop and is scheduled to open next month. And on the southwest corner is the Asian-themed Mekong Plaza. But Kavanaugh acknowledged more development isn't likely until the economy turns around.
There's property available, but the big key for everyone is financing," Kavanaugh said Tuesday. "The rules are all different from what they were a year ago."
This is one of two properties near the park-and-ride lot up for sale; the other, also six acres, is off Dobson Road, north of the nearby Tri-City Pavilions shopping center.
But until the economy turns around, why not allow people to park there?
Greg Greenstein, representing property owner JG Management of Westlake Village, Calif., said the lot wasn't designed to handle the traffic created by the Metro light-rail line's most popular station.
"It's not in our best interest," Greenstein said. "We're not set up to have that done."
Also, Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said the parking lot isn't needed, not with 800 spaces already available. Before the system opened, Foose said, transportation officials looked for pre-existing lots along the line that could be pressed into service.
"However, what we've found is that park-and-ride lot capacities are sufficient," Foose said.