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Historic landmark overlay sought for The Nile in Mesa


The Nile in downtown Mesa, which was constructed nearly a century ago as a movie house and was the first air-cooled building in Arizona, may be getting a historic landmark preservation and protection designation.

The Mesa Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously July 26 in a consent agenda with other items to recommend the Mesa City Council approve a rezoning to downtown core with a downtown events overlay and a historic landmark overlay for the 0.19-acre venue at 105 W. Main St. in downtown Mesa.

To be eligible for a historic landmark overlay district, a building, structure or object must display exceptional historic, visual or architectural significance, according to the Mesa zoning ordinance.

Michelle Donovan of The Nile is the applicant. CK Properties LLC is the owner.

The Nile opened in September 1924, was the first movie house in Mesa and was the first “air cooled” building in Arizona, according to a written project narrative.

“The Nile cost $200,000 to build in 1924 which made it one of the more expensive buildings in the area,” it states. “A renovation of the facade was done in 2018-19 to bring the facade back to its original glory. Minus the marquee, and the box office structure, the building looks very much the way it did in 1924.”

The Nile was built with locally kilned Lehi brick and was part of the art deco era of design. From the parapet to the Egyptian motif, The Nile was true to the time’s obsession with the far East and art deco linework, it states.

The Nile Theater is a two-part commercial block building between two buildings in downtown Mesa, according to a written staff report from Planner Michelle Dahlke.

“The Nile Theater currently operates as a music venue with a coffee shop,” it states. “It consists of brick construction with three bays which are accentuated by the varied parapet. Although the building no longer exhibits original stylistic elements, the building continues to contribute to the character of the downtown Mesa business core through the building type. It is possible that the elements of the original style could be reconstructed.”

Richard H. Dyer can be reached at, or on Twitter @rhdyer. To voice your opinion on this story, connect with us at

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