Work could begin later this spring on the $18 million upgrading of a fourteen-story, 220,000 square foot office building originally put up in the mid-1960s.
Located at 300 E. Main Street, the structure was purchased by the El Paso-based Esperanto Developments with plans to transform it into an 80-unit apartment building with up to 12,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Plans also call for the creation of shared work spaces on several of the building’s floors, as well as a botanical garden, which will be connected to the next-door Hotel Indigo.
That hotel, built in 1963, was redeveloped four years ago by Esperanto.
The project, one of the largest upgrades of an existing downtown El Paso high-rise in recent years, is expected to receive up to $3.6 million in both city and county tax rebates.
The 80 one- and two-bedroom apartments will range in size from 700 to 1,000 square feet, with new windows and balconies added to the structure.
A project in the talking stage now for several months, work on the upgrading and repurposing could be completed by no later than the summer of next year.
By Garry Boulard
The costs for U.S. companies taking out insurance for any amount or scope of coverage is on the rise, says a new report just published by the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper notes that after a protracted period of declining liability and property rates, “insurers have raised prices aggressively in the past year.”
The report adds: “And they have warned that price hikes are likely to continue.”
Overall, the rates for property-casualty insurance jumped nearly 7 percent last year, making it the largest such percentage increase in nearly two decades.
The paper notes that reasons for the insurance cost hikes are related to the more than $2 trillion the insurance industry paid out in the last several years due to wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
Losses due to mechanical breakdowns within production facilities and even building fires have also contributed to the cost increases.
According to survey put together by the Associated General Contractors of America, insurance costs for contractors have nearly doubled over the last 8 years.
Speaking late last year at a Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers meeting in Colorado Springs, David Bresnahan, vice-president with the Boston-based Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, predicted that companies should be “planning on rate increases every year for the next five years.”
Bresnahan explained his forecast by noting that “there is no sign of tort reform or anything else coming that would stem this tide.”
By Garry Boulard
A company specializing in the manufacturing of steel ramps and material handling equipment has just received $250,000 in state funding to finish building at a former Walmart site in Alamogordo.
The Santa Fe Springs, California-based Medlin Ramps Incorporated late last year announced it was going to build a full-service plant at the 25-acre site located at 1900 Highway South.
The project, with an initial $2.5 million Local Economic Development Act grant approved in late 2018 by the City of Alamogordo, has included the demolition of the former Walmart building, and construction of a planned 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility.
The site, called Square 47 in a salute to New Mexico being the 47th state to join the Union, has additionally been envisioned as a mixed-use property that will include a full-service travel center housing a marketplace, laundry and shower facilities, and truck wash.
In order to receive the funding backing of both Alamogordo and the New Mexico Economic Development Department, Medlin has committed to hiring at least 45 people.
In a statement, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham lauded Medlin Ramps and its decision to locate in Alamogordo, remarking, “This company is simultaneously helping us invest in employment opportunities tomorrow while delivering for New Mexicans who want to work today.”
The largest yard ramp manufacturer in the country, Medlin Ramps, with facilities in both California and North Carolina, additionally produces steel dock board and portable loading docks, among other products.
By Garry Boulard
Online retail giant Amazon has now made public plans to build an 850,000 square-foot facility in Colorado Springs that will be used to process and deliver package orders.
The facility will go up inside the new 900-acre master planned Peak Innovation Park on the southeast side of the city near the Colorado Springs Airport, which is also expected to see an increase in flights transporting those orders.
The new center is additionally being seen as a catalyst for future area development, according to Bob Cope, Economic Development Manager with the City of Colorado Springs.
In an interview with the publication CPR News, Cope said the facility will “spur, hopefully, new housing opportunities and also new retail opportunities in the area.”
The center, with a planned four stories, is thought to be one of the biggest such facilities ever built by Amazon. Reports indicate that the facility may eventually be expanded to 4 million square feet.
In a statement, Amazon said the company’s fulfillment network is designed to support businesses of all sizes “through its Fulfillment By Amazon offering.”
That service is especially designed to provide packaging and shipping assistance to sellers.
Amazon purchased the 69 acres needed to build the facility from Colorado Springs for a reported $6.3 million.
Work is expected to begin on the structure later this spring, with a planned early summer 2021 completion date.
Amazon has an extensive footprint in the Centennial State with the construction of four other distribution and sorting centers, not to mention several delivery stations and storefront locations.
By Garry Boulard
Just over 90 individual transportation projects on Tribal Lands are slated to receive nearly $9 million in federal grant funding.
Elaine Chao, the Secretary of the Transportation Department, said the funding will be specifically used to “improve traffic safety and improve the quality of life for tribal communities.”
Five separate projects in Arizona are receiving a total of just over $1 million, with the Gila River Indian Community getting $499,000 for the building of new pedestrian facilities along Baseline Road and 83rd Avenue, while the White Mountain Apache Tribe is in line for $400,000 for a pedestrian safety project running along Arizona State Route 73.
Three projects in New Mexico are slated to receive a combined more than $70,000 in funding, with the largest, at $45,400, targeting a traffic-calming initiative for the Pueblo of Jemez along New Mexico State Road 4.
In a statement, Nicole Nason, Federal Highway Administrator, remarked: “From safety planning to sidewalks and road repairs, these funds will play an important role in enhancing the safety and accessibility of transportation infrastructure on tribal roads.”
The funding is coming specifically from the Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund under the auspices of both the Department of Transportation, as well as the Federal Highway Administration.
By Garry Boulard
A proposal to build a bridge that would cross the rural Tonto Creek in south central Arizona may be on its way to receiving vital state funding.
A bill sponsored by Arizona State Representative David Cook has now won the approval of the legislature’s House Appropriations Committee, asking $15 million for the bridge’s construction.
A separate measure, sponsored by State Senator Sylvia Allen asking for that same amount, has also been introduced in the upper chamber.
The move to build a bridge at the Tonto Basin, some 70 miles northeast of Phoenix, has for the better part of decade been regarded as a necessity due to the nearly one dozen people who have died attempting to make it across the creek during times of high floodwaters.
But in recent months, the project has taken on a new urgency as a result of the death of three children who lost their lives when the military-style vehicle they were riding in got stuck in the creek’s rising waters.
Two adults and four other children in that vehicle survived.
Running north to south through both Coconino and Gila counties, the creek is just over 70 miles long. The bridge would be built in the Tonto Basin at the Bar X Crossing.
Gila County officials say design work on the bridge has already been completed, while more than $3 million has been set aside for a project that could eventually cost as much as $20 million to build.
The $18 million requested by Representative Cook would come out of the state’s general fund to be used by the Arizona Department of Transportation for the bridge’s construction.
Both funding bills are expected to work their way through their respective chambers well before the State Legislature is scheduled to conclude its regular session on April 25.
By Garry Boulard
A project that has been in the talking stage for the better part of a decade in Durango, Colorado could well see construction beginning by early summer.
The Animas River Trail Pedestrian Bridge would cross over the Animas River, which runs north to south through the city.
Although the current vehicular bridge spanning the river has walkways on both sides, the pedestrian bridge would be specifically designed for pedestrians to connect with walking trails at either end of the bridge.
As proposed, the structure would cost at least $4.1 million to build, with some $200,000 of that figure being funded through the Great Outdoors Colorado program, which uses revenue from the state’s lottery to pay for any number of park, trail, and outdoor facility projects.
City officials have determined that the pedestrian bridge should be built adjacent to the existing vehicular bridge, but at a higher level.
But pubic responses to the suggested design have been mostly negative. An informal online poll conducted by the Durango Herald revealed that 88 percent of respondents are opposed to the project as currently proposed.
Additional public input meetings are scheduled to be held on the project in the weeks ahead.
By Garry Boulard
A restaurant chain that already has more than 2,600 outlets nationwide has announced plans to build up to 165 new locations by the end of this year.
The Newport Beach, California-based Chipotle Mexican Grill is known for its tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, and is unofficially classified as a fast casual eatery.
Founded in 1993, Chipotle opened its first grill location in Denver, enjoying a rapid expansion of restaurants, primarily in the West in the years to follow.
It has for several years been ranked in the industry as one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country.
Last year the company saw its sales volume increase by at least 10 percent, a healthy number coming on the heels of a strong 2018, when total revenue was up by nearly 9 percent.
Now the company has signaled to its investors that it expects to see an equally good 2020 with a revenue growth of around 10 percent, although some analysts think that number could reach as high as 13 percent.
Measuring an average of 2,200 to 2,500 square feet, Chipotle restaurants are known for their sleek designs composed of corrugated metal, stainless steel, and plywood.
It has been reported that each store costs an average of $850,000 to build.
The chain has recently implemented a drive-through window service called “Chipotlane,” which it has in more than 60 stores, with more than half of the 165 new locations offering that feature.
The company has not announced where its new restaurants will be built. Nearly 1,000 of the chain’s current stores are located in the nation’s four biggest states: California, Texas, Florida, and New York.
Chipotle currently has almost 200 restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
By Garry Boulard
What is being called the Gateway Center could see the construction of a new homeless shelter in Albuquerque that would provide sleeping quarters for around 300 people.
University of New Mexico officials have talked about the idea for several months, exploring the possibility of building the structure on school property.
Although the shelter may go up on UNM’s main Albuquerque campus, it would not be operated by the school, or even regarded as a UNM building.
UNM President Garnett Stokes, in remarks delivered before a public input meeting, said the school was open to working with the City of Albuquerque on the development of the shelter, emphasizing that a campus shelter would have the added advantage of being near the UNM Hospital.
The site thought to be favored by UNM for construction of the shelter is to the north of Lomas Boulevard NE, but south of the school’s Office of the Medical Investigator, located at 1101 Camino de Salud, roughly a mile and a half to the north of the center of the main campus.
Construction of what is estimated to be a $30 million shelter would be partially funded by general obligation bonds approved by city voters last November.
As envisioned, the shelter would operate on a round-the-clock basis, while additionally providing services designed to secure permanent housing for those using the shelter.
An earlier conceptual design for the project released before the bond election showed a building with laundry space, a kitchen, two lobbies, a dining and multi-purpose room, and an outdoor enclosed courtyard.
UNM officials have said they intend to conduct a series of public input meetings on the project before any decision is made as to its actual construction.
By Garry Boulard
A public input session is expected to be held sometime next month in Las Cruces to appraise a project that city leaders for the last 20 years or so have wanted to see become reality: the building of a new, multi-floor parking garage.
The project, as envisioned, would go up in the downtown area, and would be designed to respond to a growing need for parking in a part of the city busy with both daily and weekend traffic.
During a recent meeting of the Las Cruces City Council, it was disclosed that the city has on hand some $2 million in capital outlay funding to launch both the design and initial construction phases of the project.
Altogether, it is thought the new garage will cost nearly $19 million to build, with funding to be secured from a variety of sources.
The parking lot has been envisioned as being able to accommodate up to 400 vehicles, with perhaps some retail space available on the ground floor.
Where exactly the new garage will be built has not yet been decided.
An additional downtown project will see the construction of new public restrooms to go up behind the historic Rio Grande Theater, off the 200 block of Main Street.
That project will also include the paving of a city-owned parking lot, with work expected to begin later this spring.
By Garry Boulard
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