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Mesa exploring addition of downtown nightlife

Mesa wants to become a player in the Valley’s nightlife scene.

Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe have set the bar when it comes to nighttime economy and Mesa could be heading toward the creation of a downtown entertainment district to help the economy.

Such a district would be a tool to lift the distance requirement between churches/schools and bars/nightclubs which, by state law, is 300 feet. The district would cover the area along Main Street from Country Club to Mesa drives, an area with about 25 churches and schools.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said the idea does not mean the city is focused on recruiting just bars to the area.

“We found that as we looked for more opportunities, we kept stumbling on the law and this district helps find a balance,” he said.

Smith said downtown has had a resurgence and the best may be ahead.

“With light rail and four new universities, it will be a place you won’t recognize in five to 10 years. We want to be prepared for it.”

A public meeting will be held Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Mesa Arts Center to discuss the proposed entertainment district.