More than 400 new housing units at two different sites will be built on the southeast side of Denver, with a large percentage set aside for seniors and mixed-income tenants.
The ambitious project is the result of the City of Denver’s move to acquire the two properties that belong to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
When that department announced plans to move their facilities elsewhere, Denver jump-started a complicated and protracted process of purchasing the properties for a combined $19 million.
In turn, the city has agreed to sell those lands to the Kentro Group, a Denver real estate development firm, which will turn the sites into primarily residential properties.
According to a City of Denver Department of Finance report, the two projects will ensure that “future use and development is contextual and compatible” with the neighborhoods surrounding the site.
The 11-acre site at 2000 S. Holly Street will see the construction of around 225 units, with 80 units geared for seniors.
The 12-acre site at 4201 E. Arkansas Avenue will be the home to at least 150 units, with rents calibrated at 60 percent of the area median income.
An exact timetable for work on the two properties has not yet been announced.
Work may begin sometime this summer on a senior care center that has been years in the talking stage.
The South Valley Adult Daycare and Respite Center will go up adjacent to the already-existing South Valley Multipurpose Senior Center at 2008 Larrazola Road in the city’s South Valley.
The facility will be designed especially for those who need supervised care, and will include 3,500 square feet of interior space, offices, and a lobby with a design that will emphasize natural lighting.
A joint project between the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, the project was first proposed to State Representative Miguel Garcia in 1997 by a group of area seniors.
Although the work on the multipurpose center launched in 2010, funding for the respite center proved elusive.
In a press conference announcing the project, Garcia noted that a number of the seniors who first suggested the idea to him have since passed away. “They would have qualified to be a part of this center because they were in that kind of a health situation where they were in need of respite care,” he said.
Although the project is ready to become a reality, both city and county officials say they are seeking addition funding for the respite center in this year’s regular session of the New Mexico State Legislature.
Responding to a larger-than-expected general revenue stream, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has announced that he would like to see a portion of that money used for a variety of long-delayed transportation projects.
“It’s not often that we find ourselves in a position where resources are available to actually go beyond our initial budget request,” Hickenlooper said in a public letter to the Colorado State Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has issued a report saying that the state is looking at a $9 billion shortfall in money needed for transportation projects, particularly in maintaining the state’s 23,000 miles of roads and 3,500 bridges.
In trying to come up with a solution to the problem, legislators last year unsuccessfully proposed putting on a statewide ballot a question that would call for a half percentage point increase in Colorado’s sales tax which would generate an annual revenue stream of $250 million for transportation projects.
Hickenlooper is proposing that just over $148 million be set aside for transportation spending out of the $256 million in general fund revenues for this coming fiscal year.
Colorado lawmakers will have until the first week of May, when the legislature concludes its 2018 session, to act on Hickenlooper’s suggestion.
Just under 60 single-family homes may be built on a swath of unused land belonging to the Vista Hills Country Club in El Paso.
That club, located on the east side of the city at 2210 Trawood Drive, has proposed building the homes on some 11 acres of land that require a zoning change from ranch/farm to planned residential.
No opposition from neighbors in the surrounding Vista del Sol subdivision has so far been recorded to the idea, prompting El Paso’s City Plan Commission to approve the zoning change, noting that the project is “consistent with other residential districts in the area around Vista Hills Country Club.”
The project is now on its way to the El Paso City Council for final approval. If built, the homes are expected to be priced in the $220,000 to $350,000 range.
The 18-hole Vista Hills Country Club was opened in February of 1974.
A shopping center some 4 miles southeast of downtown Denver is expected to see the beginning of a major makeover later this spring.
The North Clayton Lane Center in the 2300 block of First Avenue was for years anchored by a 150,000 square foot Sears store.
In early 2015 it was announced that that store, as part of a nationwide Sears strategy eventually seeing around one hundred stores closed, was going out of business.
What to do with that big space, on a 5.4-acre site populated with a Whole Foods Grocery Store, Wells Fargo Bank, and Crate and Barrel furniture store, among other businesses, has been the subject of speculation for the last three years.
Now, the San Diego-based Olive McMillan LLC, a commercial real estate development firm that purchased the center for $170 million, has announced plans to redevelop the entire site, with an eye towards making the property more open and walkable.
Those plans include demolishing the former Sears store, and building a new space for the Whole Foods store. The redevelopment could also eventually see the construction of another three new buildings to be used primarily for retail purposes.
The Cherry Creek neighborhood, where the average home is valued at around $750,000, has in recent years also become known for its cluster of upscale retail, restaurant, and office properties.
Half a dozen new self-storage facilities are slated for construction this year in both Arizona and New Mexico.
Titan Development Limited, which has offices in Albuquerque among other cities, has recently raised more than $82 million in private equity to fund the various projects, which will be built in Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Santa Fe.
The company’s goal is ultimately to raise upwards of $200 million for the projects, a goal it expects to meet later this year.
The company also expects to eventually build similar storage facilities in Colorado, Florida, and Texas.
Titan, a real estate investment firm founded in 1999, has spearheaded upwards of $2 billion in real estate investment, including the 218,000 square foot Hewlett Packard building in Rio Rancho in 2009.
According to industry statistics, at least $2.2 billion was spent on self-storage facility construction in early 2017, up from just over $2 billion the year before, with more than 900 such facilities built nationwide.
In a state that saw funding for school buildings and education programs hit hard by the Great Recession, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has pledged to increase K-12 spending across the board.
Speaking to members of the Arizona State Legislature as it began its regular session, Ducey said he was committing himself to upping funding “above and beyond inflation every year I’m in office.”
Education experts in Arizona have pointed out that the state’s schools have been subject to budget cuts equal to $4 billion for more than two decades, a trend that only worsened during the recent Great Recession.
In response, some groups, such as the Arizona Parent Teacher Association, have urged that the state keep intact a special education sales tax whose revenue is designed to target school projects.
That tax, scheduled to expire in 2021, is currently set at 0.6 cents on the dollar. Advocates of increased spending for Arizona’s schools would like to keep the tax in place, but increase it to 1.6 cents on the dollar.
That increase, according to analysts, would generate $1 billion a year, up from the current annual revenue haul of $600 million.
Ducey has not said where the revenue will come from for his proposal to increase school spending, but has suggested in the past that that funding might be found in savings realized from other state agencies which have recently reduced their budgets.
The Governor is expected to provide more details regarding his school spending plan when he releases his annual state budget.
Plans are now official for the construction of a fire station that will serve the north side of Phoenix.
The facility, which has been long anticipated by residents of the Norterra section of the city, will be built on a currently vacant 3-acre site at the intersection of Jomax Road and I-17.
That site was purchased by the City of Phoenix more than a decade ago when plans were initially announced for the new facility. But funds to construct the station proved elusive during the Great Recession.
Last summer, Norterra residents petitioned the Phoenix City Council to finally get the project built, noting that the nearest operating fire station at 21602 N. 9th Avenue is nearly 6 miles to the south.
Until work begins on what is expected to be a $5 million project, the Phoenix Fire Department, which currently has 57 stations, has established a temporary station for the Norterra area at a Marriot Residence Inn near the intersection of W. Happy Valley Road and N. 19th Avenue.
One of the most popular immersive art galleries in the West has announced plans to begin construction on a new 90,000 square foot location in Denver later this year.
Meow Wolf, which launched its “House of the Eternal Return” exhibit in March of 2016, is known for its unique and creative interactive exhibits, as well as its space that allows children to create their own art.
Building on a success that has seen more than 400,000 people visiting its exhibits, Meow Wolf last year purchased an existing 52,000 square-foot structure in Santa Fe to expand its creative space and offices.
Now the art collective is going to build a 5-story outlet in an industrial section of Denver at the intersection of Colfax Avenue and I-25.
That 4-acre site, which is actually underneath I-25, is currently the home of an office belonging to Denver’s Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, which will be demolished.
In a statement, Anthony Guida, Meow Wolf design director, said that the new building will “activate both the area below and above the viaduct and draw visitors throughout the year.”
According to preliminary plans, the new facility will house up to 60,000 square feet of exhibit space, along with an additional 30,000 square feet that will include a gift shop and restaurant.
Work on the roughly $50 million project is expected to begin later this summer and be completed by early 2020.
Expectations of continued private office construction is one of the main factors driving a particularly positive building outlook for 2018, according to a just-released extensive survey of contractors across the country.
“Construction firms appear to be very optimistic about 2018 as they expect demand for all types of construction services to continue to expand,” said Stephen Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America in a press conference this week.
In introducing AGC’s latest member survey, entitled Expecting Growth to Continue: The 2018 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook, Sandherr took note of an industry-wide mood of buoyancy reaching across nearly all markets.
“This optimism applies to both private and public sector construction demand,” he said, “perhaps reflecting current economic conditions, an increasingly more business-friendly regulatory environment, and expectations that the Trump Administration will finally deliver on its promise to boost infrastructure investment.”
According to the survey, which was conducted between early November and mid-December and included the perspectives of more than 1,000 large, medium, and small firms, at least 75 percent of contractors are planning to hire more employees this year.
That number is up from the 73 percent of firms nationally who last year at this same time were planning to increase their staff sizes.
“Most of the hiring will only expand headcounts by a small percentage per firm,” said Kenneth Simonson, chief economist with AGC.
“Half of the firms report their expansion plans will increase the size of their firms by 10 percent or less,” continued Simonson, while “only 5 percent of firms report plans to expand their headcount by at least a quarter.”
Simonson noted, in fact, that the industry’s job growth has been underway for some time, pointing to Department of Labor data indicating that between November of 2016 and November of last year, construction employment increased in 255 out of 358 metro areas nationally.
The AGC survey also revealed growth in specific areas with respondents, said Simonson, most optimistic about construction opportunities in the private office segment.
Respondents additionally indicated that they expect to see a 33 percent increase in transit, rail, and airport construction over last year; a 32 percent increase in retail, warehouse, and lodging work; and a 31 percent increase in water and sewer construction projects.
Other segments, including manufacturing, K-12 schools, hospitals, and multifamily residential, are all expected to see increases in project dollar volume this year, comprising an overall 53 percent expectation of all projects for 2018 over 2017.
But despite such upbeat expectations, the construction industry continues to grapple with one big challenge: Growing workforce shortages, said Sandherr, “have continued to make it difficult for the mass majority of firms to find and hire qualified workers.”
As a result, many of those same firms “are opting to recruit works with less experience and skills than they would prefer,” he said.
In fact, a strong 50 percent of the survey’s respondents agreed with the statement that they are “having a hard time filling both salaried and craft worker positions,” compared to only 9 percent who said they were having no trouble filling those positions.
Perhaps not surprisingly, an even larger 53 percent of respondents said they think it will remain hard in 2018 to find and hire qualified construction workers, versus only 5 percent who said it will either “continue to be easy” or will become easier.
In an effort to hold onto the good workers they already have, some 60 percent of responding firms indicated that they have increased base pay rates, a significant jump over the 50 percent doing so last year.
At the same time, 36 percent of firms questioned have in the last year provided incentives or bonuses to their employees, with 24 percent either increasing contributions or improving employee benefits to cope with workforce shortages.
The AGC survey, done in conjunction with the Washington-based Sage Construction and Real Estate, is regarded as one the most comprehensive overviews of both construction trends and labor market conditions in the country.
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