Although El Paso city officials have yet to say what exactly is to become of the Cohen Stadium on the northwest side of the city, a new master plan for the site the stadium sits on envisions a variety of entertainment and recreational uses.
Months in the making, the master plan specifically mentions the construction of athletic and recreational facilities on the 50-acre site at 9700 Gateway Boulevard North, as well as several hotels, restaurants, and both retail and green space.
Plans for the 10,000-seat Cohen Stadium itself, which was built in 1989 and, according to city officials, has been underused ever since the El Paso Diablos baseball team stopped playing there some 5 years ago, remain uncertain.
It has been suggested that ultimately the stadium will be demolished by the city, but that has not yet been officially announced.
The Cohen Stadium site master plan comes after months of public input.
As currently proposed, what is being called the Cohen Redevelopment could see the construction of up to 228,000 square feet of hotel space; 394,000 square feet of retail space; 97,000 square feet of office space; and just under 900 multi-family residential units.
The project would be funded using a combination of public and private dollars.
A specific date launching the beginning of the Cohen Redevelopment remains to be announced.
By Garry Boulard
More than 900 new stores belonging to the ALDI discount grocery store company are expected to be built from the ground up or carved out of existing space in the next four years.
Based in Essen, Germany, ALDI currently has in excess of 10,000 stores internationally, with the U.S. currently being its second largest market behind Germany.
ALDI is known for having its shelves stocked with boxes of products such as carbonated beverages and snack foods on the theory that customers will buy larger quantities of such staples. Also the company determined that it can save thousands of hours in wages by not having employees opening those boxes and placing their contents on the shelves, as is the typical practice in most other grocery stores.
According to an analysis published by the Chicago-based market research company Information Resources, Inc., ALDI in recent years has been making significant inroads with Millennial Generation shoppers due to its “increasing emphasis on organic and healthier products.”
ALDI stores typically measure anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. Where the company’s new outlets will be located is expected to be announced incrementally.
Most of ALDI’s current stores are located in the Midwest and South. In December the company announced it was opening three new stores in California, two in Florida, and one each in Alabama, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the Santa Fe County Planning Commission are expected to review the positive recommendations of a hearing officer regarding plans for the construction of a travel center/truck stop that could go up at the New Mexico State Road 14 and Cerrillos Road interchange.
For months, residents living near where the proposed Pilot Flying J project would be built have packed public meetings and asserted that the facility, to be built on part of a 26-acre site, was inappropriate for the area.
Concerns have been expressed regarding potential traffic that the travel center would generate, as well as its impact on air, light, and noise pollution.
In an effort to find a resolution to the question, the commission in January appointed Santa Fe attorney Nancy Long, a former member of that body, to study the pros and cons of the project.
Long has now submitted her findings to the commission, stating that the conceptual plan for the travel center is in keeping with Santa Fe County’s Sustainable Land Development Code.
Long additionally noted that the application for the project, submitted by the land planning firm Hames W. Siebert and Associates of Santa Fe, had adequately addressed lighting, landscape, utilities, and road design issues, while also producing required environmental impact, water use, and traffic impact reports according to county standards.
The commission is scheduled to review the project’s conceptual plan on March 15.
As proposed, the travel center will comprise some 10 acres of the 26-acre site, with the rest being set aside for future retail and hotel construction.
There are currently more than 550 Pilot Flying J travel centers operating in the U.S. and Canada. Those centers are typically open 24 hours and offer a variety of fast food restaurant choices as well as laundry rooms and showers.
By Garry Boulard
In a move to increase the city’s affordable housing stock, members of the Denver City Council have voted to allow developers to build structures as high as 16 stories in the popular River North Arts District.
In return, developers building those structures would allot more living space to affordable income units.
The building height plan will specifically apply to the area of the 38th and Blake Street commuter rail station.
The plan leading to the council vote has been in the works for some two years.
The council vote will also allow developers to build tall if they include in their projects entities such as day care services and small grocery stores that will serve the larger community.
According to city documents, the measure means that a developer putting up a 12-story structure, by way of example, would be required to build seven “incentive required units,” along with the already-established three units for that size building.
That would result in ten new affordable units for what would be a nearly 200,000 square-foot structure.
By Garry Boulard
Democrats in Congress are criticizing President Trump’s recently announced $1.5 trillion infrastructure revamping project as inadequate.
Congressional detractors of the plan are taking special aim at the $200 billion that the President has suggested could be used to fund a variety of rebuilding projects, saying that figure is too low.
That $200 billion, as proposed by the White House, would be used over a period of 10 years to spur greater contributions from states, cities, and private investors.
In a statement, House Democrat Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley of New York said Trump’s proposal “falls far short of the investment our country desperately needs and deserves. At a time when our bridges and roads are crumbling and our schools and hospitals are severely antiquated, the President’s empty proposal lacks vision.”
Senate Democrat Minority Leader Charles Schumer said the proposal would put an “unsustainable burden on our local government.” In order to pay for the President’s plan, Schumer predicted the creation of “Trump tolls all over the country.”
Democrats have called for an infrastructure plan of up to $1 trillion, less than the President’s overall package. But the vast majority of that money would come from Washington, and unlike the White House plan, would not rely as much on state and local funding support.
By Garry Boulard
After months of behind the scenes talks, the announcement has been made: a new 1 million square-foot manufacturing plant for the Nikola Motors company is going to be built in Buckeye, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.
The plant is expected to cost $1 billion to build and will be a facility outfitted with the latest high-tech advances in order to build Nikola’s much-awaited new semi-trucks.
Regarded by industry analysts as an obvious market for Tesla Motors, the Salt Lake City-based Nikola plans to introduce its own all-electric semi-truck, the Nikola One, next year as the next wave in the move away from diesel-powered trucks.
Nikola, which also builds electric vehicle drivetrains, energy storage systems, and hydrogen stations, will build its new facility on a currently vacant 500-acre site near the intersection of Sun Valley Parkway and the Wintersburg Parkway.
“Nikola Motor Company’s selection of Arizona demonstrates that we are leading the charge when it comes to attracting innovative, industry-disrupting companies,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement upon the announcement of Nikola’s building plans.
Plans call for Nikola to move its corporate office to Arizona later this year. Although an exact schedule for when work on the new facility will begin has not yet been announced, company officials have said that they would like to have the plant up and running by the latter part of 2019.
As a sign of the increasing competition between the two companies, Tesla Motors, founded in 2003, was named in honor of the legendary engineer Nikola Tesla, who created the alternating current power transmission, among other things.
Nikola Motors is also named in honor of Nikola Tesla.
By Garry Boulard
Nearly two years of controversy regarding the proposed construction of a $180 million multi-purpose arena in downtown El Paso have taken its toll on public support for the project.
According to a survey of more than 300 people in the city, commissioned by El Paso television station KVIA, only 25 percent of respondents indicated they were in favor of the project being built at its proposed site: the Duranguito neighborhood.
That location has sparked litigation on the part of residents of the area and community activists.
Last year, 21st Civil District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled that El Paso could not apply Quality of Life bonds for the project if the arena is to be used for sporting events because the original ballot language for the bonds never mentioned that purpose.
The City of El Paso has said it will appeal that ruling.
The largest group of respondents to the KVIA poll, 37 percent, said they opposed the arena being built in Duranguito, with 36 percent saying they were undecided.
The demographic groups most in opposition to the project were people making more than $100,000 annually, and those between the ages of 45 and 54.
The greatest support for the project came with respondents making between $35,000 to $100,000, and those in the 25 to 34 years of age category.
By Garry Boulard
Calling for a greater use of public and private partnerships, along with stepped-up state and local spending, the White House has released President Trump’s long-awaited $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.
The 55-page proposal specifically calls for a greater investment in infrastructure projects in rural areas, as well as a streamlining of the government agency permitting process that could see projects approved in two years or less.
The document, Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, provides a framework of administrative priorities that it hopes Congress will act on later this year.
The proposal also calls for the establishment of an incentives program that would be used to support “wide-ranging classes of assets.”
Of those assets, the document lists surface transportation, airports, passenger rail, ports and waterways, and both drinking water facilities as well as wastewater facilities.
The incentives program will be funded at the $100 billion level, to be divided up between the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the federal Department of Transportation.
Some $50 billion would target a rural infrastructure program, while $20 billion will go for what is being called “transformative programs” which would be centered on new projects rather than rehabilitating older and existing infrastructure.
As proposed, the plan is designed to provide parameters for members of Congress to act upon. But analysts say that the odds are small that all of the President’s ideas, during a year seeing mid-term elections, will see passage.
By Garry Boulard
The first issuance coming out of the giant $937 million general obligation bonds passed by Denver voters last November could be announced sometime this summer.
The 2017 GO Bond, as it appeared on the local ballot, was actually seven individual ballot questions funding up to 460 large and small projects.
Those ballot questions, approved by an average of 66 to 73 percent of the vote, called for $431 million for transportation and mobility projects; $151 million for parks and recreation centers; $116 million for cultural facilities; $77 million for public safety projects; $75 million for the construction of a new Denver Health and Hospital Authority clinic; $69 million for library upgrades and renovations; and $16 million for various public facility work.
In December, the City of Denver announced it was hiring Atkins North America, Inc. as the program management for the giant bond program. Atkins, with offices worldwide and in Denver, is a design, engineering, and project management consulting firm.
The next step in the process is for the contract requests and budget appropriations related to the GO Bonds to go before the Denver City Council for review.
Atkins and El Paso city officials will then be tasked with coordinating the issuances, while also working with the various city agencies that will be involved in the many projects.
By Garry Boulard
A project designed to bring a new look and life to the largest meeting space in Grand Junction, Colorado is about to get underway.
Members of the Grand Junction City Council have agreed to hire an architecture firm for the redesign and remodeling of the Two Rivers Convention Center in downtown Grand Junction.
That firm is the Grand Junction-based Chamberlin Architects, which has extensive experience in public facility design.
With money coming from the city’s Downtown Development Authority tax increment funding, the project is expected to cost around $6 million.
Additional project plans call for building a new hotel which would be attached to the convention center, with a 2021 completion date.
Located at 159 Main Street, the 23,000 square foot facility, which was built in the early 1970s, regularly hosts any number of trade shows, concerts, and seminars. Convention center officials have previously said that an updating and remodeling of the facility will attract larger business meetings and conventions.
In April of last year, a proposal to increase a local sales tax in order to raise some $30 million for the center’s renovation was overwhelmingly defeated by Grand Junction voters.
The renovation work at the Two Rivers Convention Center will include kitchen upgrades, exterior and roof repairs, and an upgrading to the facility’s water supply and drainage system.
By Garry Boulard
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