The latest step is underway in an ongoing campus expansion of a homeless shelter and service group in Las Cruces.
Members of the Las Cruces City Council have voted for a resolution approving the purchase of a one-acre site in the 900 block of W. Amador Avenue which may be used by the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.
The Community of Hope group is a non-profit organization created in 1991 that is not only devoted to housing solutions, but also income support and case management services. The organization serves upwards of around 5,000 people a year, with a particular emphasis on veterans’ support.
In response to the group’s need for more facility space, the Las Cruces council agreed to a $438,000 purchase of a one-acre site owned by the Las Cruces-based company Stone Masters.
The site is more specifically located at 915 and 921 W. Amador Avenue, on the same block as the Community of Hope’s primary facility at 999 W. Amador Avenue.
Last year the city council approved a master plan identifying some $26 million in needed capital improvements on, and the expansion of- the Community of Hope’s campus. That action followed a vote in early 2020 committing $1.3 million for the purchase of the 999 W. Amador property, which for years had been occupied by the Horse N Hound Feed N supply store.
In 2011 the Community of Hope opened what is called Camp Hope, a tent community for up to 50 people that included a modern bathroom and shower facility.
By Garry Boulard
As economists try to get a feel for whether the country is heading into a late 2023 recession, the construction industry is thriving, as judged by the most recent reported employment levels.
According to data just released by the Washington-based Associated General Contractors of America, the industry’s job count was up in 45 states, as well as the District of Columbia last month over August of 2022.
The figures show gains in every region of the country with some of the nation’s largest states adding the most employment: Texas was up by 21,000, followed by California with 15,600 jobs, Ohio at 11,600 jobs, along with an increase of 10,600 jobs in Georgia.
On just a percentage level, Wyoming in August led the nation with a 13% job increase. Arkansas saw a 9.9% jump, followed closely by Kentucky, enjoying an increase of 9.2%. New Mexico was among the strongest percentage gainers with a 7.3% increase.
The August numbers, said Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors, are providing only the last evidence that “construction has been a leading source of employment growth almost universally in the past year.”
Reflecting a general state of affairs in the industry nearing the final quarter of 2023, Simonson added that “Contractors report needing even more workers as large projects rev up across the country.”
But problematic for many contractors is the challenge of trying to find qualified workers. A separate survey by the AGC noted that some 85% of responding construction firms said they currently had open positions, but of that group nearly 90% said it remained difficult to find experienced, qualified people, particularly among the vital craft workforce.
Additional figures: 68% said applicants simply lacked the skills to work in general construction, while around 33% indicated that job candidates were unable to pass a drug test.
In response, many construction firms are embracing new approaches to finding workers. The AGC survey noted that 63% of respondents said they are using social media and targeted digital advertising to attract young applicants.
Contractors, according to the AGC narrative accompanying the survey, are “also increasing investments in their internal training programs in an effort to address the fact that many candidates lack the basic hard and soft skills needed to be successful.”
Of this group, some 41% of firms have increased spending on training and professional development programs, while 24% have enhanced their online and video training protocols. A smaller 14% are even using “augmented and virtual reality technology to better train workers.”
By Garry Boulard
Just under 30 new affordable apartment units are slated for construction in Scottsdale in a project that has now won the approval of the Scottsdale City Council.
To go up in a section of the city known as the Paiute Neighborhood Center in the 6500 block of E. Osborn Road, the project will see the construction of both studio and two-bedroom units specifically designed for persons with disabilities, as well as seniors.
It is thought that the project will cost around $15.7 million to complete, with most of that money coming from the City of Scottsdale at nearly $8 million. An additional $7.8 million will be made up of federal funds secured by Maricopa County.
According to city documents, the project is animated by the “increasing number of seniors and families who are displaced from their homes due to non-renewal notices, rising rents, and a decreasing number of affordable rents and mortgages for all.”
The project has been the subject of several public input meetings, with final design expected to be completed in early 2024 and construction slated to start to sometime in 2025.
The larger Paiute Neighborhood Center was created by the city in 1995 and is also the subject of an on-site aging building replacement project budgeted at just over $11 million.
By Garry Boulard
A successful and popular homeless shelter group in southern Colorado is hoping to expand its always-needed services via the building out of yet more shelter space.
Located in a one-story building at 728 W 4th Street in Pueblo, the Pueblo Rescue Mission has for decades provided not just nightly bed shelter for up to 25,000 people a year, but also food, physical and mental health care, and addiction support services.
Launched in 1984, the shelter underwent an extensive renovation in 2020. But now officials want to purchase a one-story structure just down the street at 710 W. 4th Street for additional shelter space.
The 710 W. 4th Street building is part of a triangular-shaped plaza built in 1952 and designated as a Class B structure.
While the current facility provides space for around one hundred people a night, the new building would allow the non-profit to offer shelter for another 125 people.
As envisioned, the new building would also house office space and a service center providing dental care, legal assistance, and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
As yet another sign of the rescue mission's growth, a 1,000 square-foot, 94 year-old brick building at 718 W. Fourth that was once a private residence has also been purchased by the organization and is being looked at for additional shelter space.
That one-time house is one of the last structures of its kind recalling the days when the currently mostly commercial W. Fourth Street was primarily residential.
A timeline for when work will begin at the 710 W. 4th Street building, if successfully purchased, has not yet been announced.
By Garry Boulard
Although he is historically associated with an unpopular war and urban unrest, the last president to govern during an era of unprecedented trust in government was Lyndon Johnson, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Johnson, who was president from November of 1963 upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy until the end of his term of office in January 1969, remains today a controversial figure, primarily because he enlarged the U.S military presence in Vietnam to the tune of more than half a million soldiers.
But in the early months of his presidency, notes the Pew study, Johnson basked in a public trust level that reached 77%, the highest ever recorded by the organization. By the end of his presidency, the percentage of people indicating that they trusted the federal government to do the right thing had dropped to 62% and has been precipitously heading downward ever since.
The most recent Pew survey on the topic shows how far south the numbers have gone: the overall average of people expressing trust in Washington is now down to 16%, a number only lower at 10% in 2011 when the country was in the midst of the Great Recession.
Currently, notes a Pew narrative accompanying the latest numbers, “25% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they trust the federal government just about always or most of the time, compared with 8% of Republicans and Republican-leaners.”
At the same time, “Democrats report slightly less trust in the federal government today than a year ago,” while “Republicans’ views have been relatively unchanged over this period.”
Looked at from any perspective, the responses by party identification are depressed compared to early 1964 when 80% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans expressed a positive view of Washington.
The Pew survey also indicates a racial unity of sorts on government trust questions: while 74% of whites during the final years of Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency in 1958 and 62% of blacks said they trusted the government to “do what is right always or most of the time,” today only 13% of Whites expressed any level of confidence, along with 21% of Blacks.
Hispanic Americans were not polled on the question until 1990, when 39% indicated trust in government. That figure among this demographic is now down to 29%. Asian Americans, not polled until the summer of 2020, have expressed a similar decline in trust dropping from 27% to 23%.
While the levels of trust have been almost consistently on a slippery slope since the 1960s, notes Pew, there have been several upward bumps: during the last year of the Reagan presidency the figure was up to 44%, up from 32% when Reagan took office, and during the months after the September 11 attacks, when the figure reached 54%.
At no time since 2001 has the level been above the 50% mark.
The most recent 16% positive poll, notes Pew, “is among the lowest trust measured in nearly seven decades of polling,” even lower than the 20% in 2022 who said they “trusted the government just about always or most of the time.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans are in the works for the purchase and repurposing of a massive office and warehouse complex along Interstate 10 on the west side of El Paso.
That complex, with 412,000 square feet of warehouse space and a 115,000 square-foot office, was formerly the home of the Helen of Troy company, a housewares developer with more than $2 billion in annual sales founded in El Paso in 1968.
Earlier this month, Helen of Troy officials announced that they wanted to sell the facility, while still keeping the company’s headquarters in the city.
Now the Eaton Corporation, a global power management company, has disclosed an interest in purchasing the site for around $80 million. The company, which specializes in everything from electronic components to fuel systems and utility and grid solutions, already has an existing plant in El Paso’s Northwest Corporate Center industrial park.
In a news conference, Alex Mora, plant manager for Eaton, said the company is planning to manufacture additional electrical products at the new facility - products that will include the panel boards, switchboards, and circuit breakers that are used for electrifying data centers and large commercial plants.
Mora added that the company, which is headquartered in Dublin and saw revenues in excess of $20 billion last year, would be moving into the Helen of Troy facilities due entirely to a demand for its products, and not because it was “closing other plants somewhere.”
By Garry Boulard
In just the latest example of finding a modern use for the space running alongside Phoenix’s historic Grand Canal, a development company has announced plans to build a seven-story structure with 155 residential units that will open out to the waterway.
The project, officially called Forty600, belongs to RAS Developments of Phoenix, and will additionally see the creation of around 7,100 square feet of commercial and office space on the building's ground floor.
The Phoenix-based Merge Architectural Group has signed on as project architect, with Waibel and Associates of Tempe in charge of the landscape architecture.
Forty600 will be built on a just under 2-acre site near the intersection of Central Avenue and Coolidge Street, running adjacent to the Grand Canal.
The part of the project facing the canal, with residential balconies overlooking the waterway, is poised for café, coffee shop, and bistro space.
The canal, which runs southeast to west through the city, has increasingly in recent years been the focal point of infrastructure development, particularly with the completion of a 12-mile, $22 million recreational trail called the Grand Canalscape.
Originally built by the Grand Canal Company, the waterway was instrumental in sustaining farmlands in Phoenix. As the city has become increasingly urbanized, the canal is primarily used to feed area water systems.
RAS Developments specializes in rental space, and has spearheaded projects in Montana and North Dakota, as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In 2020, the company completed work on The Grove on Glendale, which is thought to be, with 56 individual townhomes, the largest built-for-rent townhome development in metro Phoenix.
By Garry Boulard
Less than two weeks before the federal government is scheduled to run out of money, members of Congress appear to be more divided than ever regarding spending and budget priorities.
Those divisions were seen in a failed effort to approve a short-term funding stopgap that proved unpopular enough with a segment of the House of Representatives’ membership so as to be withdrawn before the proposal was even voted on.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed frustration with members of his own caucus for failing to consider that bill but told reporters: “I like a challenge. I don’t like this big a challenge—but we’re just going to keep doing it until we can make it.”
Although a proposal unveiled over the weekend included both a stopgap funding measure as well as significant funding cuts and enhanced border controls, a small group of Republican lawmakers have said they want deeper cuts, among other things, and will hold off even if it results in a government shutdown.
Arkansas Republican Congressman Steve Womack has suggested that, for now, attempts to forestall the shutdown may be doomed to failure. He noted that there is currently a “sufficient number of people right now on the record, on social media, saying that they’re not going to take it up or not going to support it.”
As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Womack added that the Senate is “trying its best to at least present an appropriations package than can clear the Senate and maybe come over to the House and get some bipartisan votes.”
According to a document prepared last month by the Office of Management and Budget, all federal agencies are expected to have at the ready shutdown plans to be activated within one day of the shutdown.
Those same agencies, notes the publication Business Insider, should also have plans "for a shutdown that extends for a prolonged period of time.”
A recent Brookings Institution study notes that while in a shutdown a large segment of federal employees is told not to report for work, both Medicare and Social Security “continue to flow because they are authorized by Congress in laws that do not need annual approval.”
By Garry Boulard
Even in a state where the average home price at just under $538,000 exceeds by $120,000 the national average, the sale of a 13,000 square-foot luxury home just outside of Aspen, Colorado has prompted national press coverage.
According to sources, the home belonging to interior designer Holly Hunt has been sold for a record $70 million.
Located about a mile from the Aspen city limits, the two-story structure, "tucked away among the Colorado mountains," as earlier described by the publication Galerie, includes six bedrooms, a large living and dining room, and a spacious patio.
Hunt, the founder and former chief executive officer of Holly Hunt Design, had purchased the 4.2-acre property in 2015 for around $5.8 million, but considerably increased its value by a number of site improvements including the construction of a new main house and caretaker's residence.
Hunt also oversaw the building of a new bridge over the adjacent Roaring Fork River. According to the Clayton County Register, Hunt additionally "invested significant effort in landscaping the estate, raising the ground level by 7 feet, adding gentle slopes, and planting full-size evergreens."
Hunt made her name in the interior design world through her signature custom made indoor and outdoor furniture, along with rugs, lighting, and textiles. Nearly a decade ago she sold her company to MillerKnoll, Incorporated for a reported $95 million.
While not in the stratosphere of the Hunt home sale, the average median listing in Aspen last month stood at $3.2 million, according to the site Zillow.
By Garry Boulard
A new modern office building that will house office and laboratory space for bioscience companies is set to be built in downtown Phoenix.
The project belongs to Wexford Science & Technology of Baltimore and will see the completion of a building that will look very much like another structure the company earlier put up in Phoenix.
That initial 227,000 square-foot structure, officially called the 850 PBC, was built in 2021 in a partnership with Arizona State University as part of the Phoenix Bioscience Core campus.
The seven-story 850 PBC building houses everything from university research to corporate offices, workforce development, and collaborative space.
Now Wexford wants to build a second bioscience collaborative structure within the 30-acre Phoenix Bio Core campus that is expected to cost around $100 million to complete.
According to plans, the new structure will go up next to the existing 850 PBC building and will be of a similar size.
Wexford’s plans for the second building were announced in the wake of a decision by the National Institutes of Health to sign a lease for some 35,000 square feet of space on the original building’s seventh floor.
Kyle Jardine, Wexford marketing executive, said in a statement that the addition of the NIH facilities “reaffirms the PBC as Arizona’s central hub for life science research and entrepreneurship.”
Founded nearly two decades ago, Wexford specializes in the building of what are known as “innovation ecosystems,” and has spearheaded projects in partnerships with the University of Maryland, Duke University, and Washington University in St. Louis, among other institutions of higher learning.
By Garry Boulard
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