As ASU expands into Mesa, some residents worry about what could be lost

The construction site for ASU at Mesa City Center/ Photo by Alex Gould/The State Press

Residents continue to question the role of the long-contested ASU at Mesa City Center facility set to open for classes in Fall 2022

By Anna Campbell  State Press

When Bruce Nelson, an actor, filmmaker and historian of the Washington-Escobedo Heritage Neighborhood in downtown Mesa, first heard about ASU’s film school named after Academy Award-winning Black actor Sidney Poitier coming to Mesa, he asked why.

Nelson heard the school was incoming via a new building complex, the ASU at Mesa City Center, but struggled to see the precise connection between Mesa and Poitier. 

Given the Washington-Escobedo Heritage Neighborhood’s complex and storied history of prominent community members and racial segregation, Nelson said he is hoping for something through the school to honor the community right next door. 

“I’ve talked to a few filmmakers that I know and artists that I know, and they kind of had the same reaction, like, ‘Okay, that’s great to do that. You know, what kind of programming? Don’t just give it the name,’” said Nelson, who directed a documentary about the Washington-Escobedo Heritage Neighborhood titled “North Town.”

The development of ASU at Mesa City Center, set to open for classes in Fall 2022, has raised multiple concerns among residents and politicians, from payment to gentrification and honoring nearby communities.  


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December 2021