Mesa, Ariz., is getting a do-over. The financially battered city experienced explosive growth for more than half a century, and municipal leaders hope to recover that vitality, reports the Economist. Their solution? Start building, but not in the strip-mall-and-tract-home model so familiar in the Sunbelt. The city has annexed 5 square miles to be the new home of its downtown, which will rise around the airport.
Few cities have the opportunity to craft a new center, and Mesa intends to fashion what one professor calls an “aerotropolis”—relying on the central airport rather than pushing it to the outskirts. It's also planning mixed-use streets with both residential and commercial occupants and plenty of neighborhood parks—a plan that will have the city looking more 1910 than 2010.