Big addition coming for Mesa’s Asian District The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Big addition coming for Mesa’s Asian District

February 2nd, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Big addition coming for Mesa’s Asian District
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BY GARY NELSON
Tribune contributor

Mesa’s burgeoning west-side Asian District is about to get a new attraction.

The owners of Mekong Plaza, at the southwest corner of Main Street and Dobson Road, plan to build a nearly 33,000-square-foot structure just south of the existing plaza to accommodate more Asian-themed restaurants and shops.

Mekong 88, as the project is called, won approval from the Planning and Zoning Board on Jan. 27 and it now heads to City Council for final action.

That Mesa even has an Asian District was not the result of deliberate city policy. But Asian businesses began to cluster there perhaps 20 years ago, with one especially dense node at Dobson and Southern Avenue.

The process accelerated when Mekong Plaza opened in a former Target store
in 2008.

That, coincidentally, was the year light rail opened its first leg in Mesa, stopping just east of Dobson. The trains made it easier for Arizona State University’s sizable Asian student population to head east for home-flavored food.

Beyond that, the district, which covers the 1.5 miles along Dobson from Main to Southern, is seen as a draw for many of the estimated 132,000 Asians who live in Maricopa County.

They follow in the footsteps of long-established families such as the Wongs, whose general store at Main Street and Mesa Drive helped supply the crews that built Roosevelt Dam more than a century ago.

Mekong 88 appears to be the first purpose-built addition to the Asian District; the other stores and restaurants occupy strip malls or re-used buildings such as the former Albertsons store across the street, now home to H Mart.

A Scottsdale architectural firm, 3rd Story, is overseeing design.

The firm told Mesa in planning documents that configuring the narrow, deep tract was challenging, requiring some adjustments to normal development standards. Nothing has previously been built on the rather unsightly lot.

The existing driveway from Dobson will be retained, allowing access to some parking on the L-shaped building’s north side. But most of the parking will be in the rear, with access from Mekong Plaza’s parking lot.

“We are integrating an intentional connection to the neighboring Mekong Plaza, … using the same finishes, colors and materials,” the company said in a narrative it submitted to the city.

Among the features will be a 32-foot, pagoda-like tower similar to those seen on Mekong Plaza. Also planned is an 18-inch-deep pond along Dobson Road to offer visual appeal for pedestrians and outdoor diners.

According to city planning documents, no objections were registered when the company informed neighbors of the proposal.

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