A Veterans Administration hospital project that has taken more than a decade to develop and build is nearly complete in Aurora, Colorado.
Construction of the Rocky Mountain Regional Medical Center has been plagued by delays and inaccurate cost estimates. What started out as a $538 million project nine years ago eventually cost $2 billion.
Those problems have sparked national media attention and a Congressional investigation.
Now VA officials say that while the construction part of the project is completed, work on renovations and design corrections most likely won’t be finished until August.
The VA has said that it will contract out for that additional work.
Despite the many problems getting the project to completion, the new facility is already being touted for assets that include three outpatient and two inpatient clinic buildings, a research hub, diagnostic and treatment center, and three parking garages.
A more than 1,000 foot-long concourse runs through the center’s 30-acre site, which is adjacent to the University of Colorado Hospital.
The current VA facility for treating Denver regional veterans is located at 1055 Clermont Street in downtown Denver. That structure was built in 1951 and renovated in 1986.
By Garry Boulard
Up to $1.5 trillion in federal funding should be used to target infrastructure projects across the country, President Trump said in his first State of the Union speech.
The President said he wants to provide $200 billion in federal grants for a wide variety of road, bridge, airport, and port improvement projects, while also targeting $100 million in incentive grants designed to encompass a combination of state, local, and private company investment.
Federal appropriations, said Trump, should be “leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment.”
The administration has additionally called for spending $50 billion on rural infrastructure projects, and is pushing for greater private sector investment in infrastructure construction and upgrading projects.
The President additionally wants to shorten the time it takes to secure a government permit for an infrastructure project, noting that legislation must “streamline the permitting and approval process—getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.”
The exact details of Trump’s infrastructure plan are expected to be released in mid-February.
By Garry Boulard
A museum dedicated to studying and celebrating the history of the World War II Navajo Code Talkers could be going up along the New Mexico/Arizona border.
Members of the Senate Indian and Cultural Affairs Committee have unanimously voted in favor of approving some $1 million in state funds to build the facility.
The legislation, proposed by Senate John Pinto of Gallup, is now on its way to the Senate Finance Committee.
If approved, the project, which would also include a veterans center, would most likely go up on a 140-acre site in the town of Tse Bonito, which is also the seat of the Navajo Nation government.
How much money the project will ultimately require remains an open question, although some additional funding support is already coming from the Winslow, Arizona-based Navajo Code Talkers Foundation.
A report filed by the Legislative Finance Committee said the “the costs for infrastructure design and construction are unknown; infrastructure development could limit the amount of funds that remain for the museum and veterans center structures.”
The report adds that “subsequent appropriations or other mechanisms of funding” will most likely be required.
Navajo soldiers serving in the Marine Corps during World War II transmitted vital tactical and military information using a code based upon their native language.
After the use of that code was disclosed in late 1945, a reporter for the International News Service described it as the “only foolproof, unbreakable, code in the history of warfare.”
By Garry Boulard
With offices in both Austin and Chicago, Core Spaces LLC is one of the fastest growing student housing development companies in the country.
This year. the company is planning to build new student residential projects in Lafayette, Indiana; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Orlando; Minneapolis; Flagstaff; and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Those projects are all intended to serve students from nearby universities, and will vary in size from 124 to 407 units.
Now added to Core Spaces’ portfolio is a 142-unit housing development in Fort Collins, designed to serve students at the nearby Colorado State University.
As proposed, what is being called the Hub on Campus Fort Collins will go up on a 1.6-acre site that was once the home to the C.B. Potts Restaurant and Brewery.
Several structures that were once a part of the C.B. Potts’ operation at 1415 W. Elizabeth Street will be demolished to make way for the new project.
According to city documents, the new Core Spaces development will include one 5-story building with 12,400 square feet of commercial space. A second structure will be three stories tall and will house multi-family dwellings.
Also planned for construction is a 3-story parking garage.
If the Hub on Campus Fort Collins wins city approval, work is expected to begin on the project this fall, with a late summer 2020 completion date.
By Garry Boulard
The vast majority of states in 2017 saw increases in construction employment according to a just-released study of the national labor market by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Based on data compiled by the Bureau of Labor, construction growth was recorded in 42 states from December of 2016 to December of last year.
States with the greatest percentage increase over 2016 included Nevada, which saw a 12.8 percent jump, followed by Rhode Island at 11.3 percent, Oklahoma at 10.7 percent, and Oregon, also at 10.5 percent.
“Construction employment is expanding in many parts of the country in large part because of strong private sector demand,” Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, said in a statement in response to the federal job report.
“Any new public sector investments, particularly for infrastructure projects, would help accelerate job gains in many part of the country,” added Simonson.
Construction jobs in New Mexico from late 2016 to late 2017 increased from 43,700 to 46,700; Arizona’s numbers went from 136,400 to 143,400; while Colorado posted gains from 156,300 to 164,900.
Those numbers left New Mexico with a 14 percent increase in construction jobs last year, Colorado with an 18 percent increase, and Arizona with a 22 percent jump.
By Garry Boulard
A vacant and wind-swept stretch of land on the south side of Phoenix that was once a busy landfill may see redevelopment as a modern mixed-use site with retail, light industrial, and park space.
That, at least, is the City of Phoenix’s hope as a request for proposals to redevelop the big 156-acre Del Rio landfill has been officially announced.
That swath of land at 1150 E. Elwood Street, some 5 miles south of downtown Phoenix, served as one of the city’s solid waste landfills for most of a decade.
In 1981 the city, which owns the site, closed the landfill, eventually capping it with imported soil.
In the years since, Phoenix has secured funding through the Environmental Protection Agency for what was called the Del Rio Area Brownfield Plan, suggesting a blueprint for the area’s redevelopment.
Now the Phoenix’s Community and Economic Development department is asking for what it calls “market-viable development proposals” to transform the rectangular-shaped space.
Currently zoned as both industrial district and light industrial district, the landfill, which never contained hazardous waste, has earlier been the subject of a series of community input meetings.
Participants in those meetings said they wanted to see the site redeveloped primarily for retail and park space.
The deadline for the Del Rio Landfill Redevelopment RFP is April 24.
By Garry Boulard
Plans to put up a new and large soccer stadium in Arizona have taken an important step forward with the announcement that two architectural firms have been awarded the job of designing the facility.
The Phoenix Rising Football Club is hoping to secure a Major League Soccer franchise, and if it does, it will need to play in a soccer stadium up to the MLS’s standards.
The firms selected to design that facility are Gould Evans, which has offices in Phoenix, and the Kansas City-based Populous. Both firms have extensive experience in athletic facility and stadium design.
In a statement, Brett Johnson, co-chairman for Phoenix Rising, said the club needs to “build a stadium that will be comfortable for both the fans and players, so it was crucial that the winning architectural design team understood the challenges and opportunities associated with the Sonoran Desert.”
Although a specific construction date for the new stadium has not been finalized, Phoenix Rising officials have said that if it secures a MLS franchise, it would like to see work on the facility begin soon afterwards.
The team is currently playing in a 15-acre stadium near Scottsdale, regularly attracting up to 6,000 fans.
By Garry Boulard
The largest professional organization in the architecture industry has issued a declaration condemning the state-oriented de-licensing movement.
In Where We Stand, the Washington-based American Institute of Architects says there has been a “troubling trend among a growing number of states to roll back licensing requirements for a host of professions, including architecture.”
The statement notes that there have been “roll back licensure” efforts in more than two dozen states.
Those states, says the AIA, often see professional licensure review committees formed to push through the least restrictive regulations for architects that are then ratified at either the executive or legislative level.
“The essential purpose of licensing architects is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public and shield consumers from unqualified practitioners,” said Carl Elefante, the president of AIA, in a statement.
“This is a responsibility our profession fully accepts and takes quite seriously,” Elefante continued, vowing to fight all such ongoing and future de-licensing efforts.
Proponents of de-licensing have contended that the licensing process is too cumbersome and stifles competition.
With a membership of more than 90,000 people, all of whom are licensed architects and associated professionals, the AIA has additionally signaled its ongoing support for state licensing boards which, it says, regulates the profession by setting “requirements for architectural education, experience, and examination.”
By Garry Boulard
what to do with large but-soon-to-be-abandoned santa fe campus is a challenge for city officials and residents
The future look and function of an airy 64-acre campus in Santa Fe will be the subject of a series of community input meetings this spring.
Last April it was announced that the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, located at 1600 St. Michael’s Drive, would close its doors by this June.
While that ending for the four-year nonprofit school has caused obvious anxiety for its students, city officials have been thinking about what is to become of the campus once the last classes at the school are held.
Now, what is being called a Midtown Campus Project, sponsored by the City of Santa Fe, is asking for ideas about how to reimagine the campus space, which features more than 30 structures, including office and classroom space, student housing, a library, fitness center, and theater.
As proposed, five design teams will put on paper ideas gathered through community input, leading to an eventual public vote on those ideas, with a final report subsequently sent to the Santa Fe City Council.
Some of the ideas that have already been informally suggested include turning the campus into a mixed-use development, with housing and office space, and perhaps even a new Santa Fe Public Library location.
The art and design school, a subsidiary of Laureate Education, Inc. of Baltimore, said it was closing its doors due to financial issues. The school’s enrollment of around four hundred in 2010 is today less than half that number.
By Garry Boulard
A $270 million housing project designed for retirees and seniors on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University is set to begin construction this winter.
The 20-story building is being developed by the Medford, Oregon-based Pacific Retirement Services and will house 300 living units.
In a statement, Arizona State University President Michael Crow said the idea of older people living on or near a campus heavily populated with people in their 20s is symbolic of an essential demographic trend: life expectancy in recent years has been all on the increase side.
“We’re living longer, we’re wanting to learn longer, we’re wanting to contribute longer,” said Crow.
“So as part of what we’re doing as a university now, we want to engage in senior living and senior success,” continued Crow, “connecting people who want to continue learning with the university, connecting people who want to be part of our teaching, learning, and discovery environment.”
For Andrew Carle, the founder of a program in senior housing administration at George Mason University, the trend in university housing both on campus and slightly off campus for those who are older than 50 years old is no accident.
“The origin and overwhelming demand is coming directly from seniors who are highly educated and seeking active, intellectually stimulating, and intergenerational retirement environments,” he says.
Current retirees, continues Carle, comprise the parents of Baby Boomers who first entered colleges in the post-World War II years on the legendary G.I. Bill, as well as the Baby Boomers themselves.
The Boomers, officially defined as those who were born between 1946 and 1964, “are not seeking to sit on the front porch in a rocking chair in their retirement,” says Carle. “They also remain extremely loyal to their alma maters, so retiring to the location where they first came of age adds to the interest.”
“We can expect demand for this category of community to grow significantly,” continues Carle, adding that among the Baby Boomers, and even their parents, is a discernible resistance to living in what he calls “elderly islands” that have for years dominated the senior housing landscape.
Those seniors-only enclaves first gained significant traction in the 1950s and 60s and continue to see construction today. But, says Carle, such projects were “wrong then and won’t be accepted moving forward.”
In recent years, new senior housing projects, with an entirely different bent, have gone up near the campuses of the University of California, Cornell University, Indiana University, the University of Florida, and Oberlin College.
Carle says that in order for such projects to really work, they should be located “within at least one mile of core campus facilities, not only to provide convenient access for residents to the campus, but to provide access to students to the community.”
“Both groups are heavily weighted with populations that don’t have cars,” says Carle. “But more importantly, you can’t incorporate the feel and culture of the university if you are out of its primary zone.”
“When I was in college, no one who lived more than a mile off campus felt like they were as connected to the school as those who lived closer,” Carle continues. “It’s the same for the retirement community residents.”
For all of the potential future growth of what are known as “university-based retirement communities,” Carle says it’s an industry not without challenges.
“Senior housing companies are used to serving clients in their 80s in an essentially private pay and fast-moving industry,” says Carle. Universities, on the other hand, he notes “are used to serving clients in their 20s, within large, often public, and slow-moving bureaucracies.”
In order to make both worlds better mesh, Carle suggests that experts or specialists in senior housing administrative should first be brought in.
Construction on the new Arizona State University senior housing facility, known as the Mirabella at ASU, is expected to take around 18 months, with the building’s residential units ready for occupancy by the fall of 2020.
The facility will additionally house around 250 independent living apartments, about 40 private skilled nursing suites and memory-support suites, and an additional 11 assisted-living apartments.
By Garry Boulard