Plans have now been set for the construction of a new highway bypass project that will go up in Carlsbad and is designed to lessen the amount of truck traffic currently moving on smaller roads and streets in southeast Eddy County.
The new bypass, long in the anticipation stage, will connect U.S. Highway 285 with U.S. Highway 62/180.
By so doing, the bypass will also be serving as a loop between north Carlsbad and south Carlsbad.
The project is expected to cost up to $30 million to complete and will be done in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Earlier estimates pegged the project at around $25 million.
Nearly $12 million of the funding for the project is coming from the state and $1 million from Carlsbad, with additional funding expected to be secured in the future.
Work on the bypass project will most likely launch sometime in the spring of 2020.
By Garry Boulard
The Trump Administration has announced that it will not, after all, impose increased tariffs against a variety of Mexican imports.
That announcement is in response to a pledge from the Mexican government to become more active in reducing the number of people, primarily from Central America, flooding the Mexican/U.S. border.
In a joint announcement, representatives from both the U.S. and Mexico said that Mexico had agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.”
Although President Trump said if he had not “put tariffs on the table” the Mexican government would not have so positively responded, a number of analysts have suggested that Mexico was prepared to step up their border security efforts before the tariff threat.
A report in the New York Times said the Mexican government had agreed to enhance its enforcement efforts last March during “secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior.”
Although the Administration signaled its satisfaction with Mexico’s response, Trump has since also suggested that he may re-impose tariffs against Mexico if the border immigration issues continue.
The President had originally called for tariffs of 5 percent on all Mexican imports starting on June 10. Those tariffs would have gradually increased to 25 percent by October.
The tariffs would have particularly hit auto and truck parts, as well as construction supplies.
By Garry Boulard
A new and upscale $46 million senior living community that will feature nearly 200 apartments of varying sizes is currently in the planning stages in Chandler, Arizona.
A joint partnership between Cadence Living, a senior living developer, and the San Diego-based Global Senior Housing, the project will also include an art studio, theater, fitness center, swimming pool, and both restaurant and bistro-style dining.
Cadence, based in Scottsdale, and Global Housing have purchased for $3.2 million nearly 8 acres of land in the 100 block of W. Queen Creek Road for the project.
What is being called the Cadence at Ocotillo will be the fourth senior living community developed by Cadence Living in Arizona. The company also has complexes in California and Colorado.
In a statement, Eric Gruber, a principal at Cadence Living, said the company’s emphasis on offering a variety of amenities has been a planned strategy to “fill a gap in the market by offering seniors a lifestyle-focused community.”
In keeping with that strategy, the Cadence at Ocotillo will additionally include walking paths and raised garden beds.
Cadence’s focus on Arizona’s senior market comes in the wake of Census Bureau statistics showing the state as having one of the highest percentage of residents aged 65 years or older in the country.
With a national above-65 population percentage of 14.1 percent, Arizona’s senior population is now at near 16 percent.
Work on the Chandler project, which will be designed by the architectural firm of Whitneybell Perry, also of Chandler, is expected to begin later this fall.
By Garry Boulard
The latest job numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the national economy added around 75,000 new jobs last month.
Added to the job growth from earlier this year, 2019 has now seen the addition of more than 820,000 jobs in the last five months.
While the numbers for 2019 are strong, the overall rate of job growth has slowed when compared with the first five months of 2018, which saw an addition of some 1.1 million new jobs.
Even so, the most recent BLS numbers means that starting next month the current economic expansion will break records as the longest such expansion in modern history, with new jobs now being added for more than 104 months in a roll.
That, according to analysts, beats out the country’s last extended period of job growth in the 1990s, with an unemployment rate that has been steadily declining from around 10 percent in early 2010 to just 3.6 percent this spring.
According to Lydia DePillis, a senior economics writer for CNN, one of the reasons why the nation’s unemployment rate is now so low is simple: “Employers have more open positions than they can easily find workers to fill them.”
Looking at the latest numbers, the Washington Examiner also noted that the jobless rate for people without college degrees is now at 3.4 percent, the lowest it has been in more than 25 years.
That statistic, said the paper, “is a sign that the decade-long expansion is benefitting economically vulnerable people and is reaching workers at the margins of the labor force.”
The BLS numbers also show that new construction jobs were up by more than 8,100 in May, resulting in an overall industry unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, down from 5.4 percent in May of last year.
By Garry Boulard
Upgrades to a building that will house a unique high school program are slated to begin later this summer.
The Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Sciences, otherwise known as AIMS, is currently operating out of two buildings: one is located at 933 Bradbury Drive SE, and the other in the 1100 block of University SE.
The two structures are located roughly two blocks from each other, divided by Bradbury.
Officials with the charter school, which has an enrollment of around four hundred students from the sixth to twelve grade, have long wanted to consolidate its services under one roof.
That hope will now become a reality as members of the board of directors of the Lobo Development Corporation, an entity that manages property owned by the University of New Mexico, have voted to approve renovating a section of the Bradbury property for the school.
The $1.3 million project, largely transforming office into classroom space, is one that officials with both AIMS and UNM have been talking about for several months now.
Work on the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year, in time for the early 2020 semester.
Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the top charter school in New Mexico, AIMS has also been recognized by the Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School.
By Garry Boulard
Nearly three years after it broke ground on its first structure, Innovate ABQ is in the process of beginning the remediation of a historic church that is probably the most famous building on the organization’s downtown Albuquerque site.
The former First Baptist Church, at the corner of Central Avenue and Broadway Boulevard, was purchased at a price of $6.5 million by the University of New Mexico for Innovate ABQ some five years ago.
The roughly 80 year-old structure has long been eyed by Innovate ABQ officials as a perfect site for offices, and both lab and meeting spaces.
Innovate ABQ has already seen the construction of the 160,000 square foot Lobo Rainforest building, a six-story structure with housing for UNM students and a bottom floor with a coffee shop, bank, and research lab.
Work has also been completed on the Fuse Markerspace, a 13,400 square foot building operated in a partnership with Central New Mexico Community College that provides space for the design and construction of manufactured works.
As planned, the former First Baptist Church property will see the remodeling and upgrading of the building’s sanctuary, which houses a chapel with 400 seats, as well as offices to the rear of the building that will be turned into lab space.
Once the remediation of the church is completed, work transforming and readapting the structure could begin sometime early next year.
By Garry Boulard
Passage of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 could retain the services of at least 100,000 people currently working in the U.S. construction industry.
So says Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors, who hailed the recent House passage of the legislation, noting that “the men and women covered by this measure are making essential contributions to economic development and infrastructure projects across the country.”
If the legislation should fail in the Senate, Sandherr said in a statement, the U.S. construction industry could be faced with the sudden loss of qualified laborers “at a time when a vast majority of contractors report difficulty finding qualified workers to hire.”
House passage of the bill has also won the approval of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which issued a statement saying the legislation would “allow union members to continue contributing to their communities, supporting their families, and the U.S. economy.”
Originally proposed in the summer of 2001, the Dream Act has never won full Congressional approval. Four similar proposals introduced in the Senate last year all failed.
As written, the legislation, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump, would offer conditional green cards as well as extending work authorization to individuals who are currently in the U.S. via the Temporary Protected Status program as well as the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program.
The legislation is not without its critics: Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly, who voted against the bill, said the Dream Act would essentially offer amnesty to millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally.
He further added that in his view the bill “prioritizes illegal aliens over Americans and legal immigrants.”
The legislation is now on its way to the Senate where it is expected to be taken up by members in September once they return from their late summer break.
By Garry Boulard
Denver may soon see an increase in what are known as tiny home villages due to a change in the city’s zoning laws.
Both city officials and members of a group called the Colorado Village Collaborative have held a series of meetings designed to make those laws as they apply to such villages more straight-forward and clear.
Those conversations have led to a proposal just aired by the city that would allow for both short-term and long-term permits for such structures.
The proposed zoning changes will also make it possible for tiny home villages to be carved out in pretty much any part of Denver, with the exception of on conserved land.
Generally defined as structures measuring less than 400 square feet, tiny homes have been growing in popularity throughout the country as both a way for people to live more simply, while also providing affordable housing for those who are homeless.
A movement to build more such structures in Denver first picked up steam two years ago with the creation of the Beloved Community Village, a community of nearly a dozen tiny homes near the city’s thriving River North Art District.
A move earlier this year to a site north of the art district and on the other side of the South Platte River allowed the Beloved Community Village to add another ten homes.
Now city officials say organizations interested in putting together similar communities can do so after first meeting with area residents and neighborhood groups to talk about their plans for a specific site.
Such meetings, in fact, would be seen as a prerequisite to any village proposal finally securing a city permit.
City officials say that by early next year they additionally hope to be able to see established a process that will allow for permanent zoning permits for tiny home villages.
By Garry Boulard
A proposal to build a new cell tower in a growing residential section of Rio Rancho may be taken up by the city’s Planning and Zoning Board later this month.
Site for the tower is at 1116 21st Avenue SE, roughly two blocks to the east of Unser Boulevard SE and the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center.
According to city documents, the new three-legged tower would have a height of a least 65 feet, and would be surrounded by an eight-foot high wall.
The project will belong to Verizon Wireless. Representatives of that company say the new tower will replace an existing tower in Albuquerque and is needed to increase coverage in the area.
The project has sparked the opposition of residents in the surrounding upscale Vista Montebella neighborhood.
Last month, partly in response to comments from those neighbors, members of the Rio Rancho City Council voted to send the project back to the planning and zoning board, where it had been reviewed earlier this year, for further study.
By Garry Boulard
Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate may result in the increased construction of vehicle electric charging stations nationally.
Introduced by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, the Electric Credit Access Ready at Sale Act of 2019, otherwise known as the CARS Act, will offer a federal tax credit over a period of the next ten years for what is described as “alternative vehicle refueling property.”
The previous credit, set at around 30 percent of the cost of the property in question, expired in 2017.
First established in 2005, the credit has since been extended six times.
According to a new study just released issued by the Congressional Research Service called Vehicle Electrification: Federal and State Issues Affecting Deployment, an attempt to reinstate that credit may not be without problems.
“The uncertainty surrounding temporary tax incentives that are often retroactively reinstated diminishes their effectiveness as investment incentive,” the study says.
Even so, the development and building of electric vehicle infrastructure is clearly a matter that is increasingly gaining the attention of investors and policymakers who continue to explore new routes to funding such projects.
One of those routes, the study suggests, could come through tax-preferred bond financing options: “State and local financing for infrastructure solely or partially dedicated to electric vehicle charging projects may use tax-empty bonds.”
But those bonds can only be applied if the project in question is strictly classified as a “public purpose” under the federal code.
Another funding option, according to the study, may come through the existence of a federal infrastructure bank, or what is known as a “green bank,” geared in particular to support electric vehicle infrastructure investment.
That the need for such infrastructure may eventually prove great, the study suggests, may be seen in the simple dynamics of how such technology is used: “If electric vehicles are to be widely used for long-distance trips, a network of direct-current fast charger infrastructure is likely necessary.”
The CARS Act legislation is currently under review in the Senate Committee on Finance.
By Garry Boulard
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