How Arizona TOD Blended Affordability, Arts and Activism

Community Development Partners is benefiting from motivating residents with artistic components in the community.
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Mesa, Ariz.—Community Development Partners (CDP) has held a ribbon cutting to officially open El Rancho del Arte in Mesa, Ariz. Located at 719 E. Main St., the 66-unit residential community offers two- and three-bedroom units with expansive floor plans and energy-efficient features.

The more distinctive element of El Rancho del Arte is its ability to benefit residents and non-residents alike through the use of public art installations, community garden boxes, learning spaces, educational classes for adults, after-school programs for children and community-building events. The community also includes a courtyard playground, barbecue and picnic areas, media room, pool, computer center, structured parking, bicycle parking and light rail access.

Artistic components of the community provide inspiration and motivation to residents, encouraging them to engage creatively. Incorporated in the building’s exterior are mandalas, a word referring to circles in the Sanskrit language. El Rancho del Arte’s mandalas include environmental features, natural shapes, forms and patterns found on ancient baskets and pottery in the Mesa region.

“The opportunity to develop new affordable multifamily housing that was on the new light rail line and had the potential scale for multiple phases worked with our vision to create a catalyst for future development in the immediate area,” CDP’s Newport Beach, Calif.-based CEO Eric Paine told MHN. “We also appreciated the relationship we had with the city of Mesa and their commitment to the arts and to the revitalization of downtown.”

Inspiration is also found on the staircases, on which are inscribed quotes from contemporary thought leaders like Winston Churchill, Cesar Chavez and Henry Ford. Among ancient observations are quotations from Socrates, proverbs from Africa and sayings of the Mayans.

Providing an integral component of the building’s design was Zarco Guerrero, an acclaimed local artist and long-time Mesa resident, who has exhibited widely and received a number of awards.

“My job as an artist is to orientate people geographically,” he said. “I have been wanting to communicate the ancient history of this area, and the symbols on the Mandalas at El Rancho integrate those historic symbols. They call our attention, they engage us while connecting us together in a shared ancient past. For me, this is what art should do.”

As an affordable housing developer, CDP’s return from a financial standpoint is its developer fee plus any long term excess cash flow, Paine said.

“More important was our ability to make a strong statement in the community, and create a community hub in the neighborhood that would foster quality of life-enhancing activities among neighbors,” he added.