Following up on an auction held earlier this fall, the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has announced plans to hold a new auction of hundreds of pieces of properties it owns in New Mexico.
The archdiocese declared bankruptcy in 2018 partly due to a series of settled lawsuits on the part of around 400 people alleging sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.
Legal fees related to settlement with the claimants have exceeded the $2.3 million figure.
What turned out to be an eight-day online auction in September brought in nearly $1.7 million, with 140 properties in the counties of Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Valencia sold.
The parcels were all zoned for commercial, residential, or special use.
The new auction, to be conducted by the Kenner, Louisiana-based SVN Auction Services, will invite bidding on more than 400 Archdiocese land parcels and properties. The list for which properties are up for auction will be announced on January 3, with active bidding beginning on January 31.
Although the Archdiocese through the decades has owned hundreds of churches, chapels, schools, and office buildings, the September auction was largely concerned with vacant property.
By Garry Boulard
An agreement has been reached between two Texas state agencies allowing for the construction of additional border wall between the state and Mexico.
The Texas State General Land Office has announced that it has come to terms with the state’s Department of Public Safety on a plan for the construction.
Governor George Abbott, who earlier this year said he wanted to build in parts of Texas, including El Paso, still lacking a wall, said the first segment of the wall project is set to begin in Starr County, near the southern tip of the state.
The land for the first portion of the wall project is owned by the Land Office.
In September Abbott gave his approval to legislation providing nearly $2 billion in state funding for border wall security. Of that amount, roughly $750 million was allotted to the building of border wall structures ranging from concrete barriers to simple fencing.
Another $250 million was earlier appropriated by the state for the project, on top of some $54 million raised through private donations.
Altogether, the Governor has said that there is just over 730 miles or border between Texas and Mexico, or roughly half of the total 1,250-mile border, in need of some type of new barrier.
Wall construction under the Trump Administration spanned just over 450 miles, with 131 miles built in El Paso County and Hudspeth County directly to the west.
According to reports, portions of the barrier will be comprised of repurposed shipping containers, while the rest will see the use of razor wire.
By Garry Boulard
While acknowledging that the nation’s supply pipeline remains problematic, an increasing number of middle market businesses are reporting strong numbers for the final quarter of this year, along with optimism for early 2022 prospects, according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey.
Using a business index which reached a reading of 126.2 in the halcyon pre-pandemic days of late 2019, the survey now shows a rather buoyant reading of 129.7 for the final months of 2021.
Any reading above 100 indicates that business is expanding, while any number below 100 represents a decline.
Done in conjunction with the Chicago-based consulting firm RSM US, the Chamber of Commerce survey reveals that 42% of medium-sized businesses experienced a 43% increase in earnings in the last three months, with a significantly higher 62% saying they expect things to take a decided upturn between now and next spring.
All of this is shaking out in the midst of unprecedented supply challenges for businesses across the country. “It’s likely that middle market business conditions will remain solid even as firms work to confront challenges in securing materials and workers,” said Jon Brussels, chief economist with RSM US.
In a statement, Brussels added: “Prices paid and prices received are very strong, and we expect this to continue until supply chain difficulties are resolved.”
Middle market businesses are also grappling with any number of employment issues, with 65% of respondents indicating that their workers today are working both in the office and at home. Responding to a separate question, 54% of those surveyed said they have increased compensation in order to secure new workers.
A much larger 68% suggested that they will increase salaries moving forward, also to attract new workers.
The business index for the last six years shows a gradually increasing rate of optimism from around 124 in early 2015 to just under 135 in early 2020 before the covid-19 outbreak, which then prompted the index to dramatically decline to just over 90.
The index has generally been on the upside since the fall of 2020.
By Garry Boulard
As part of an effort to provide more energy to a growing part of Albuquerque, the Public Service Company of New Mexico has announced plans to build a new $35 million substation.
The facility will go up at the northeast corner of University Boulevard SE and Sunport Boulevard SE on currently vacant property that once served as a city landfill.
According to city documents, what is being called the Sagebrush Station will “transmit and distribute electricity for the use and benefit of area neighborhoods, businesses, institutions, and critical transportation infrastructure.”
A communication from PNM to the Albuquerque Development Review Board additionally asserts that “existing substations and associated distribution facilities serving the southeast Albuquerque area are currently at their desired operating load.”
The new facility, continues the communication, “will provide additional capacity for the larger electric grid system to accommodate growth and new development.”
The site comprises just under 21 acres. Plans additionally call for the building of a 14-foot-high decorative block wall that will surround the facility.
The property in question is currently owned by the Albuquerque International Sunport.
According to published reports, PNM has committed itself to cleaning up the former landfill in exchange for an easement between the utility company and airport.
The project is currently being reviewed by the Albuquerque Development Review Board.
If approved by the city, work on the substation could begin sometime early next year.
By Garry Boulard
Albuquerque is placed in the top ten in terms of the percentage of construction employment gains over the last year, according to a new survey.
The Associated General Contractors of America has released a new report putting the Duke City in 7th place for the number of new construction jobs added between October of 2020 and October of this year.
The report shows that 3,600 jobs were added to the construction payroll in the city, going from 24,900 jobs a year ago to more than 28,500 today, for an overall 14% gain.
Of the other nine cities making up the top 10 job gainers, five were located in the West.
According to a press release accompanying the report, nearly “two out of three U.S. metro areas added construction jobs between October 2020 and October 2021.”
AGC officials remarked that job gains would have “likely been larger and more widespread if firms weren’t dealing with the twin challenges of supply chain problems and labor shortages.”
Altogether, construction employment was up in 236 of the 358 metro areas surveyed.
The largest percentage losses were recorded in the Midwest and Middle Atlantic metro areas, with the top 5 cities seeing declines of anywhere from 8% to 17%.
Looking at the larger New Mexico numbers, Albuquerque’s strong construction job gains were slightly offset by the loss of around 100 jobs in Santa Fe. Las Cruces remained even with around 3,600 jobs between October 2020 and this October.
Colorado posted construction job gains of between 2% and 8% in its major metro areas, although Grand Junction suffered a 7% decline.
In a statement, Ken Simonson, chief economist with the AGC, said that while the overall numbers show that the industry is “recovering from the lows of 2020 in much of the country, the pandemic is still causing major supply chain problems and is keeping some workers from seeking employment.”
By Garry Boulard
A two-story brick building that has long been the home to businesses catering to students from the nearby University of Colorado is being listed for sale in a Boulder neighborhood.
Located at 1211 and 1215 13th Street in the popular University Hill neighborhood, the building has recently housed a bike sales and service business called Full Cycle on The Hill, as well as a sandwich shop called Half Fast Subs.
Built in 1912 and originally serving as a residence, the property measures nearly 16,400 square feet, with brick interior brick walls, wooden floors, and the original pressed tin ceiling.
According to a survey of the building compiled by the Colorado Historical Society, the building is also distinguished for its “hipped roof, featuring bands of two and three double-hung windows, and paneled wood with engaged columns and arches in paneling.”
The upper floor of the structure remains residential, with a current total of 17 apartments.
The property, which has not been on the market in more than 40 years, was last renovated in 1970.
Listed with the realtor Market Boulder, which specializes in the sale and leasing of commercial property, the property is less than one mile to the southwest of the UC campus.
The University Hill area is made up of older residential properties, student housing, and small retail operations. It currently has a median property sales price of just over $1.4 million.
By Garry Boulard
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency may be on the verge of building a new central processing center in El Paso.
According to reports, the facility would be built on a 59-acre site in northeast El Paso near Mesquite Hill Drive.
That site is currently owned by the City of El Paso and has a price tag of around $1.6 million.
CBP officials have for months anticipated the building of a new center in order to accommodate an ongoing rise in migrants crossing the border from Mexico into El Paso. Funds for the project were appropriated in fiscal 2019.
Sources say the new facility would be similar to the one operated by the CBP on Hondo Pass Drive, also on the northeast side of the city. That facility includes bed space, bathrooms, and offices, among other features.
What has been described as a “central processing center” would be geared to temporarily detain and process undocumented migrants. Earlier reports indicated that the facility would be capable of holding up to 1,000 detainees.
A public hearing on the proposed purchase is planned for December 7.
By Garry Boulard
A class action lawsuit has been filed against the Seattle-based Zillow Group, claiming potential securities law violations.
Founded in 2006, Zillow is an online real estate marketplace company with annual revenues of around $3 billion.
Those revenues are largely realized by selling advertising on its website. Some three years ago the company began purchasing homes through its division Zillow Offers on the theory it could leverage its pricing data by flipping houses on a large-scale basis.
As of earlier this month, Zillow had acquired more than 7,000 homes. But last week Rich Barton, chief executive officer of Zillow, said the company would cease such purchases, selling its current inventory in the process.
Now a Boston-based law firm, Block & Leviton, has announced a class action suit against the company, asking investors who purchased shares in Zillow and subsequently lost money to contact the firm.
In a press release, Block & Leviton noted that Zillow had earlier said its house flipping venture could attract up to $20 billion on an annual basis, but that since the company announced its decision to close Zillow Offers, shares of stock in the company had dropped by 15%.
“Anyone who purchased Zillow Group, Inc. stock between February 10, 2021 and November 2, 2021 is potentially eligible,” the Block & Leviton announcement says, “whether or not they have sold their investment.”
The Block & Leviton action is one of several lawsuits being filed against Zillow for its Zillow Offers decision.
Despite the fallout from its Zillow Offers action, Zillow remains not only a potent real estate market site, but also an active news service, with recent stories exploring the popularity of earth tones as a home trend in 2022, seasonal shifts in home buying, and the growth of pet owners in the home buying market.
By Garry Boulard
A project that has been in the planning stage for a remarkably long time may finally become reality in downtown Santa Fe with the construction of a new boutique hotel.
Set to go up at the corner of Water Street and Old Santa Fe Trail, the project, in a somewhat different form, was first proposed more than 25 years ago.
Now the City of Santa Fe is in the process of reviewing plans for the building of a 31,000 square foot hotel that will include some retail space.
Plans to build at the site, adjacent to the historic Loretto Chapel, have repeatedly been rejected. Developer Jim Kirkpatrick spearheaded the building of the Inn & Spa at Loretto in 1975, adding two stories in the next decade to what was originally a four-story structure.
That hotel, located at 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, is a half a block away from the site for the boutique project.
Kirkpatrick had originally acquired the entire block, which includes the Loretto Chapel at 207 Old Santa Fe Trail. That chapel, built in 1878 and known the world over for its 20-foot high spiral staircase, was deconsecrated in 1971.
Earlier plans for the Water Street and Old Santa Fe site, which is vacant and often serves as an open-air marketplace, were roundly criticized by city officials due to size and height concerns, let alone the impact any new development might have on a part of Santa Fe dominated by narrow streets and historic buildings.
The new proposal will be the subject of a public input meeting this week, with a hoped-for final city approval coming later this year or early next year. If all goes well, work on the new hotel could launch by spring.
By Garry Boulard
A popular residential neighborhood in Denver may soon see a new 8-story apartment complex housing nearly 210 units.
The company Prime West, which is based in Denver, is developing the complex, which will include some ground level retail space at the corner of 42nd Avenue and Jason Street in the city’s Sunnyside neighborhood.
That neighborhood is one of the oldest in Denver, with early residential construction dating to the 1860s. The less than one-acre site is located around 5 miles to the north of the city’s central downtown.
What is being called Alloy Sunnyside features apartments ranging in size from studios to three- bedroom units. Also planned: a fitness center, swimming pool and community room space.
If all goes well, the complex is expected to be completed by the first part of 2023.
Prime West is a leading real estate developer in the region with an emphasis on both multi-family as well as office projects, among other specialized areas. To date, the company has developed projects equal to more than 7 million square feet.
By Garry Boulard
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