El Paso Area Canutillo Independent School District Asking for Big Bond for a Wide Variety of Facility Projects
At least one new school will be built, and several upgraded, if voters in a northwest El Paso school district approve a $387 million bond this coming May.
Members of the Canutillo Independent School District's board of trustees have voted to put on the ballot a question that, if passed, will fund the construction of the Northwest Early College High School, as well as taking on heating and cooling upgrades to all of the district's schools.
Additional facility work will see the installation of new roofs and building security updates.
The projects were proposed after months of study by a district facility advisory task force, with an emphasis being placed on shifting schools from one place to another in order to accommodate ongoing population trends.
The district, which was created in 1959, currently has two high schools, two middle schools, and half a dozen elementary schools.
The Canutillo district has a current enrollment of around 6,000 students, which has remained largely static in recent years. But a report put together three years ago by the Irvine, California-based Cooperative Strategies firm has envisioned an increase to more than 7,000 students by the end of the decade.
At the time of its founding the district had less than 900 students.
Although a recent community survey referenced by the task force indicated that just over 50% of respondents were in support of a new bond, voters in the district in the fall of 2021 defeated a much smaller $187 million bond by a large 65% to 35% margin.
By Garry Boulard
Planned self-storage construction projects, after seeing a steady increase during the last two years, may soon see a slow leveling off, says a major industry analyst.
Throughout both 2021 and 2022, reports the Scottsdale-based commercial real estate data and research firm Yardi Matrix, work began on a little more than 11 million square feet of self-storage rentable space per quarter nationally.
The ever upward trendline hit 16.1 million net rentable square feet by the third quarter of last year.
But now, says Yardi Matrix in its new Self Storage Supply Forecast Notes, while numbers in the near term appear strong, the long term picture may be less vibrant.
In fact, says the report, "in the second half of 2023 the number of abandoned deferred projects in our database has notably increased," adding that "growth in both the planned and prospective pipeline has stalled and the year-over-year change in street rates was negative in 2023."
Between October and December of last year, the report continues, the number of deferred projects had increased by 44.5% on an annual basis, while the number of abandoned storage properties was up a significant 104.2% compared with the year previous.
The industry has been buffeted by a number of unanticipated crosscurrents: the Covid 19 outbreak in 2020 was initially anticipated as a downer in the market, but instead ended up being a boon as increased numbers of people moved from one place to another, or simply needed to free up space in their homes in order to work remotely.
At the same time, notes the Multi-Housing News, "supply chain disruptions and increased construction costs fueled by inflation," have presented themselves as unanticipated challenges to getting new projects completed.
Despite these wild ups and downs, the industry has seen more than its share of strong numbers as of the end of last year, with just over 5,000 self-storage projects in various stages of development nationally, and a new supply pipeline that included 1,890 planned projects.
The bottom line for the foreseeable future, says the Yardi Matrix report, is for "long term new supply growth" to decrease to roughly 2% of stock for 2025 and 2026, and a further decline to 1.5% of stock in 2028.
By Garry Boulard
Work is set to begin later this spring on a project that will see the demolition of the famous Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix and subsequent construction of a $850 million retail village that will include up to 2,600 homes.
Located at 9617 N. Metro Parkway, roughly 10 miles to the northwest of downtown Phoenix, the Metrocenter Mall was opened in 1973 and was long one of the most popular shopping destinations in southern Arizona.
The 1.4 million-square-foot mall was especially well regarded for its variety of retail offerings, with more than one hundred stores, not to mention a 12-screen movie theater.
A decline was first noted in the 1990s, undoubtedly owing to the new presence of several other equally large regional malls. As more empty tenant spaces began to appear in the Metrocenter, its downward decline seemed irreversible.
Finally, in mid-2020, the mall closed its doors. After months of speculation, a consortium purchased the site last month for $50 million.
That consortium, comprised partly of Concord Wilshire Capital, TLG Investment, and CDS Holdings, will see to the leveling of the entirety of the mall itself, although a self-storage facility and existing Walmart Superstore at the site will remain intact.
It is expected that once the mall is demolished, work will begin in early 2025 on a project called The Village, which will also include a hotel, and 150,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
The idea behind the new project, which has been described as a "self-contained, transit-oriented" development, is to create a walkable village with a green and pet-friendly space, a town central park, and a variety of residential apartment units.
By Garry Boulard
Nearly $670,000 in job growth incentive tax credits have been awarded to a technology company that may be locating and building in Colorado.
Members of the Colorado Economic Development Commission have approved the incentives on the premise that the company, once set up in the Centennial State, will create upwards of 200 new jobs with an annual average wage of $112,000.
The exact identify of the company has not yet been disclosed, prompting speculation about its name and plans to do business in the state. Instead, the effort to get the company to build in Colorado has simply been referenced as “Project Balloon.”
The commission, for reasons of confidentiality, does not publicly disclose the names of incentive recipients until deals have been officially finalized.
Thus far information released about the company only reveals that it develops “transformative, affordable technology platforms and systems.”
It is also known that the company in question is comprised of two segments, one of which is centered on its microwave electronic products and modular systems and turbine technologies; while the second segment consists of unmanned ground and seaborne command and “communications system businesses.”
An earlier statement issued by the commission said that the project would support “the state’s economic goals by supporting the growth of an aerospace and defense company.” The incentives package is said to be particularly important because the company is also reportedly said to be thinking about setting up a location in Pennsylvania.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission was created by the Colorado State Legislature and is given a $5 million appropriation by lawmakers to fund incentive packages that assist the expansion efforts of existing business, while also trying to encourage businesses from other places to move to the state.
Besides the job incentive tax credit, the commission offers a tax credit for new businesses moving into rural areas, and a job training grant, among other efforts.
In recent months incentives approved by the commission have led to the decisions by the Santa Clara, California-based Agilent Technologies to build a $275 million manufacturing facility in Frederick, Colorado, and the Zivaro technology services company to expand its operations in Colorado Springs.
By Garry Boulard
Jet travel as a regular corporate business expense is going to increasingly be subject to review by the Internal Revenue Service, according to a just-released announcement by the agency.
“Aircraft audits will help ensure high-income groups aren’t flying under the radar with their tax responsibilities,” IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel remarked to reporters in disclosing that the agency will begin auditing jet travel deductions.
The IRS has raised the possibility that jet travel expenses declared as legitimate business expenses may, if used for personal reasons, be illegal. “At this time of year, when millions of hardworking taxpayers are working on their taxes, we want them to feel confident that everyone is playing by the same rules,” said Werfel.
The audits, which are set to begin later this spring, will be advanced in pursuance of a tax code section centered on jet travel as a business expense.
The jet travel deductions, notes The Hill newspaper, is part of a wider effort on the part of the IRS to “go after wealthy individuals and businesses who are allegedly skirting their tax bills.”
While the IRS allows for deducting the initial cost of a corporation purchasing a plane, allowable deductions are more restrictive when it comes to the actual use of those vehicles.
“If a personal vacation trip was taken on that corporate jet, the company should avoid taking the business deduction,” said Wefel.
“What we believe is happening is that there’s not enough robust record-keeping going on, and there is systemic overstating of these business deductions, and that’s what we’re looking to tackle.”
The IRS jet auditing effort, notes the Washington Post, “is just one of the many steps Werfel has taken as commissioner to increase scrutiny on high-wealth taxpayers and large corporations.”
Deducting corporate jet travel has been a heated subject for tax reformers who have contended that corporate leaders have for years abused the system.
Last year the site ProPublica, after conducting an extensive investigation of the practice, declared: “While the tax deductibility of private jets isn’t the most important feature of U.S. tax law, the fact that billionaires’ luxury rides come with missions in tax savings says a lot about how the system really works.”
In announcing the jet travel audits, Werfel also remarked that IRS is “adding staff and technology to ensure that the taxpayers with the highest income, including partnerships, large corporations and millionaires and billionaire, pay what is legally owed under federal law.”
In an ominous sentence, depending upon one’s point of view, Werfel added: “The IRS will have more announcements to make in this important area.”
By Garry Boulard
Yet another obstacle may be in the path of building a new multi-purpose arena in El Paso.
The project, first proposed in the fall of 2016, had been planned to go up in the downtown Duranguito neighborhood, but a series of court challenges by preservationists and community activists finally last year prompted City of El Paso officials to look for another site for construction.
Now, as the City appears to have settled on a site near the old Union Depot station, an El Paso publication is questioning whether the project might be violating an earlier signed contract.
That contract between the City and the MountainStar Sports Group, which operates the Southwest University Park, specifically forbids the "development or approval of any outdoor concert venue that is reasonably expected to compete with the ballpark."
Because the Duranguito proposal was for an entirely indoor facility, the MountainStar contract was not a factor. But the latest proposals for the arena have suggested an indoor-outdoor amphitheater, reports the publication El Paso Matters.
The publication further notes that "city officials have not mentioned the ballpark clause in public discussions about the amphitheater, and several city council members said they were not told of the clause as they've discussed plans for the long-delayed multipurpose center."
In a statement released specifically to El Paso Matters, city spokesperson Laura Cruz-Acosta said in part that the new proposed arena site will not be in violation of the MountainStar contract because it will be a "hybrid facility that will provide a completely different experience to event goers than the ballpark."
Members of the El Paso City Council are planning to discuss and vote on the new site for the arena during their upcoming March 12 meeting.
By Garry Boulard
Nearly $27 milllion in federal funding is targeting the building of a replacement baggage handling system at the Denver International Airport. A new control system in the main terminal will also help increase energy efficiency in the building.
The award is part of a substantially larger almost $1 billion in grants just released by the Department of Transportation and designed to improve airport terminal facilities across the country.
Exactly 114 grants of varying sizes are being awarded, all to be used, according to Federal Aviation Administration associate administrator Shannetta Griffin, to "modernize airports to meet the needs of travelers today and for years to come."
According to the Department of Transportation, the multiplicity of awards will help to "improve passenger experience, accessibility, and sustainability while creating good-paying jobs."
Funded projects include larger security checkpoints, increased gate capacity, improved accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and a general modernization of aging terminal infrastructure.
Among the larger grants: $40 million for improvements to Terminal 3 at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport, improvements that will include energy efficiency upgrades and an updated baggage system.
Around $20 million will be used to help expand the Concourse B terminal at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
A grant emphasis is also being placed on the refurbishing of control towers nationally, with the Duluth International Airport receiving $10 million to build a tower that will replace the one it has that was built in 1963; and $4.5 million going for the construction of a new tower at the Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas.
Funding for the various projects is coming directly out of the FAA's Airport Terminal Project, a program seeing $1 billion in grant funding spent over a 5-year period to improve the country's airport infrastructure.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are advancing for the construction of a new court that is slated to be built on the south side of Santa Fe.
The project belongs to the Santa Fe County Magistrate Court and is being substantially funded by an $11 million capital outlay proposal approved by members of the New Mexico State Legislature, which just concluded its 30-day winter session.
The funding in Senate Bill 275 will go directly to the Administrative Office of the Courts and is part of a total of $43 million in capital outlay funding approved by lawmakers for a variety of projects in Santa Fe County.
Officials say the current facility, located at 2056 Galisteo Street, which houses four separate courtrooms, has long been regarded as too small for current needs, and also has suffered from such infrastructure issues as a leaking roof and mold.
The one-story structure, which was built in 1995, measures around 14,500 square feet.
Last year the Santa Fe Reporter noted that for "lawyers and judges who frequent the court, the small lobby, short hallways, and a shortage of meeting rooms mean not only a crowded space at peak hours, but also a security risk."
The project, which earlier secured the approval of the Capital Buildings Planning Commission, has been long in the talking stage.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is by law given a 20-day window to approve or veto individual capital outlay projects. But in a press release, the Governor has indicated that she is going to closely evaluate public safety legislation approved by lawmakers, "before deciding whether to call lawmakers back to Santa Fe for a special session."
By Garry Boulard
The political contours of a legislative or Congressional district would be fair game as part of a realtor's pitch if a proposed bill wins approval in the Arizona State Legislature.
Republican State Senator Justine Wadsack has introduced legislation that would make it legal for real estate agents to disclose information regarding the voting trends of a district where a would-be homebuyer is thinking of moving.
Speaking before the legislature's Senate Government Committee, Wadsack, by way of an example, said if prospective Democrat homebuyers want to move into a Democrat area "they should know that they're moving into a Democrat area."
Wadsack said that disclosing such information should be little different than revealing what school district a home may be located in, a topic that often animates realtor/homebuyer discussions.
She additionally noted that while such details are publicly available, it is not always easy for homebuyers to look through databases and public records to find out such information on their own.
While some members of the committee have worried that the dissemination of such information might lead to the practice of redlining, the discriminatory practice of making certain services unavailable for neighborhoods with large minority populations, others said they thought the information may well encourage civic engagement.
It might increase "civic knowledge and participation," remarked Democrat Senator Priya Sundareshan of Senate Bill 1581.
The Senate Government Committee has approved the bill on a 5 to 1 vote and sent it to the full Senate for review.
That homebuyers may increasingly be interested in living in politically amenable neighborhoods is a trend that has been identified by public surveys. In 2020 the Pew Center for Research disclosed the results of a poll showing that 53% of self-identified liberal Democrats and 47% of conservative Republicans "place importance on living in a community where most share their political views."
By Garry Boulard
In the final days of this year’s 2024 New Mexico State Legislature session, lawmakers gave their approval to a measure that will free up tens of millions of dollars in funding for capital outlay projects across the state.
Senate Bill 246, as proposed by Democrat Senator Nancy Rodriguez, is specifically designed to reauthorize funding for projects earlier approved by lawmakers but never used.
Altogether, some 253 capital outlay projects will be impacted, projects earlier funded by severance tax bonds and through the state’s general fund, among other sources.
The need for expenditure extensions, according to an analysis put together by the Legislative Finance Committee, “may reflect projects that were not ready to start or may have been delayed due to labor and supply shortages and cost escalations.”
Some of the projects were also delayed due to the impact of the Covid 19 outbreak.
The hundreds of projects in question include everything from flood control infrastructure at the Columbus Port of Entry, to improvements to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the village of Angel Fire, and information technology upgrades in the Santa Fe Public School district.
There are currently more than 50 such projects in Bernalillo County, almost half that many in Dona Ana County, and another nearly two dozen projects in Roosevelt County.
According to various reports, there may be as much as $5 billion in approved capital outlay funds that have not been used.
In proposing the legislation, Rodriguez noted that one of the reasons why so many projects have not become reality is that often local government entities don’t receive the required paperwork from the state in a timely fashion.
After winning the approval of the Senate Taxation & Revenue Committee, the legislation was overwhelmingly passed by the full House and Senate membership.
By Garry Boulard
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