University of New Mexico Looking to 2023 Legislative Session for Host of Campus Infrastructure Projects
New Mexico’s largest public university is hoping to secure nearly $40 million in funding via the state legislature for a variety of campus infrastructure projects.
The funding would come in the form of capital outlay spending to be first approved by legislators before being signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Among the larger ticket items requested by the school: $8.9 million for what is described as “essential campus infrastructure,” and exactly $8 million for an environmental water system.
Some $5.3 million is sought for critical campus safety and security improvements, with a smaller $5 million to go for the upgrading of the school’s Interprofessional Health Simulation Center.
Nearly $3.7 million will target information technology upgrades; while $3 million will go for the renovation planning and design of the College of Pharmacy.
One of the smaller amounts, at $2.8 million, will be used for the second floor renovation of the Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center.
In an interview with the Daily Lobo newspaper, Michael Puelle, chief government relations officer for UNM, remarked that investments in security infrastructure include cameras and lighting, “actual technology investments that help increase security on campus.”
Many of the school’s capital outlay requests reflect the larger UNM 2040 goals, which according to a UNM press release, are designed as part of the university’s “long-term strategic plan to achieve a vibrant and thriving society and to build a healthier, better educated, and more economically vigorous New Mexico.”
By Garry Boulard
Construction jobs nationally saw an increase late last year in some 30 states as well as the District of Columbia, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The gains showed up along the East coast, with New York posting a 1.7% jump for 6,400 new jobs; and Florida seeing a 0.5% increase with 3,300 new jobs.
Louisiana was up by a hefty 2.6%, representing roughly 3,300 new jobs, with Arkansas up by 1.8% for 1,000 jobs. Parts of the mid-central and plains region of the country, meanwhile, endured a range of construction job losses: Missouri was down by 3.0% for a decline of 4,400 jobs, with North Dakota posting the largest percentage loss for December at 6.4%, representing 1,900 lost jobs.
From late 2021 to late 2022, California saw the biggest construction job gains with a 4.6% increase for a significant 41,100 new jobs.
In crunching the latest BLS numbers, the Associated General Contractors of America’s chief economist Ken Simonson noted that home building in late 2022 had slowed.
But, continued Simonson in a statement, “most nonresidential contractors continue to report strong demand and that they would like to add more workers than are available.”
Overall for all industries, according to the BLS, “unemployment rates were higher in December in 7 states, lower in 5 states, and stable in 38 states and the District of Columbia.”
By Garry Boulard
Funding has been secured for the rehabilitation of one of the most historic high-rises in downtown Phoenix.
Located at 11 Jefferson Street, the Luhrs Building was completed in the spring of 1924 and was hailed at the time as the tallest such structure in metro Phoenix.
Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by the famous Trost & Trost architectural firm of El Paso, the building for years served as office space for the U.S. Treasury Department and was also the home to the Arizona Club, a private gentleman’s club with its own bar, dining room, and library, among other features.
Placed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register in 1980, the 10-story structure has seen some renovation in recent years. But now the Atlanta-based Monarch Private Capital has announced the closing of a rehabilitation tax credit equity valued at $57 million to fund an extensive adaptive reuse of the building.
Plans call for converting existing office space on the Luhrs’ upper floors into 164 hotel rooms. Those rooms will operate under the upscale Marriott Moxy brand.
In a statement, Cameron Gunther, chief executive officer of the Pegs Companies, which purchased the building four years ago, said the repurposing will prioritize “the historical integrity of the building by preserving the exterior face and windows—and even keeping the antique mail system that runs through the building.”
Upon the completion of what was in 1924 a $750,000 building, the Arizona Republic noted that the structure’s “front walls and pillars are of finished granite, and all the ornamentation on the exterior of the building is of high-grade artificial stone pure white in color.”
By Garry Boulard
A travel website thinks the multi-floor Humanities Building on the main Albuquerque campus of the University of New Mexico looks like “the worst brick-laying job we’ve ever seen.”
That critique is part of a 50-state survey conducted by Travel.alot.com called “The Ugliest Building in Every State.”
The UNM structure, completed in 1974, is particularly burdened by windows arranged by a designer who was seemingly “actively trying to prevent natural light.”
The only thing good that the site can say about the 42,400 square foot structure is that it isn’t like a handful of buildings built in Los Alamos, the work of the same designer, W.C. Kruger and Associates.
“At least this building won’t give you radiation poisoning,” notes Travel.alot.
Arizona is taken to task for its famous Tempe City Hall building, otherwise known as the upside down pyramid. Designed by architects Kemper Goodwin and Michael Goodwin and completed in 1971, the structure is proof that pyramid making should be left to the ancient Egyptians: “They at least had sense enough to build them right-side up,” says the site.
In perhaps one of its most controversial choices, Travel.alot negatively critiques the 146,000 square foot Frederick C. Hamilton Building, which is a part of the larger Denver Art Museum. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, it was completed in 2006.
“This design doesn’t scream ‘art museum’ as much as it screams ‘supervillain’s lair,’” the site says of the structure, before asking: “Why is it that art museums are frequently designed to look like the most unappealing, unartistic buildings possible?”
Travel.alot, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, additionally provides lists of the best and worst sports stadiums in the country, vacation destinations, and fastest-growing cities, among other topics.
In compiling its ugliest building list, the site asks readers: “Would you like to see these replaced with something more beautiful?”
By Garry Boulard
Industrial real estate trends for the rest of the year may stabilize, says a new report just issued by the Santa Barbara, California-based Yardi Matrix, noting expectations that the sector will “cool somewhat but continue to expand and remain one of the most attractive asset classes in commercial real estate.”
In the report, Industrial Outlook Solid for 2023, the survey notes the industrial sector’s wild ride since 2000: “Demand skyrocketed, vacancies plummeted, and investors drove up average sale prices by more than 50%.
But now the advent of rising interest rates and a looming recession are likely to “slow leasing activity as businesses pause expansion plans and grapple with a higher cost of borrowing.”
Matters may be more complicated by the normalization of the supply chain, which will lead to “less need for increased inventories than was common in recent years, further slowing leasing.”
At the same time, “import flow will continue to drive demand in already tight port markets,” with ports along the East Coast and California needing increased industrial space.
The role played last year by rising interest rates helps explain a transaction volume last year that dropped to around $88.3 billion, down significantly from $125.7 billion recorded in 2021. For all of that, Yardi Matrix suggests that industrial real estate sales volume “could quickly rebound once rate hikes stop and the market adjusts to the new environment.”
Fueling expectations that the industrial sector may shortly prove in better shape than is popularly imagined, the report also predicts that “E-commerce will continue to create industrial demand in 2023, albeit at lower levels than seen during previous years.”
Online purchases are likely to continue their share of retail sales, while the demand for “last-mile distribution facilities will grow, especially for well-located facilities in high-growth markets.”
Currently, there’s 713 million square feet of industrial space nationally that is under construction. Among the top four markets listed by Yardi Matrix: Phoenix, with 55 million square feet; and Denver at 13.4 million square feet.
By Garry Boulard
A $1 billion plan to repurpose a one-time popular Phoenix shopping mall into a retail walkable village is taking a huge step forward.
Concord Wilshire Capital, in a partnership with TLG Partners, has announced its purchase of the Metrocenter Mall, located at 9617 N. Metro Parkway.
Opened in the fall of 1973, the 1.4 million square foot mall for decades was the home to around 100 individual stores, as well as a 12-screen movie theater.
The mall went into a decline in the 1990s as several stores moved out and customer traffic decreased. A subsequent renovation of the property failed to forestall the mall’s eventual closing in 2020.
Now Concord and TLG want to substantially transform the site, beginning with the demolition of the mall.
Once completed, work will begin on the building of a village space that will include over 2,600 apartment units, up to 150,000 square feet of commercial space, and a parking garage that, combined with surface parking, will be able to accommodate around 4,100 vehicles.
Included as part of the new project: pedestrian and bicycle pathways, pet-friendly parks, and an amphitheater.
In a statement, Chris Nieberding, chief executive officer of TLG, remarked, “We are creating a one-of-a-kind community by addressing the needs of the community and integrating the vision of the City.”
Work is expected to begin on the first phase of the project later this year.
Concord Wilshire Capital has offices in Miami, while TLG Partners is based in New York.
By Garry Boulard
The former Clarion Inn, a 9-floor hotel about 5 miles to the north of downtown Denver, will soon be repurposed as a transitional housing complex with up to 215 residential units.
The Denver-based nonprofit Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has purchased the property at 200 W. 48th Avenue for $24 million, with plans to begin an upgrading of the 40 year-old hotel soon.
What is being called Renewal Village is also receiving some $4 million in federal funds via the recent 2023 fiscal year appropriations bill to create 108 supportive housing units and 107 units of transitional housing.
That $4 million will target cooling and heating system upgrades, the installation of a fire sprinkler system, and the building of new kitchenettes.
In a statement, John Parvensky, chief executive officer of the Coalition, said the upgrades to the one-time hotel will “transform the lives of those who will become the Coalition’s newest residents in 2023.”
Funding for the purchase of the Clarion came via a combination of the Denver Office of Housing Stability, the Division of Housing with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and Adams County.
The Coalition, which was formed in the early 1990s, is tasked with reducing homelessness, offering assistance to more than 22,000 individuals and families annually. The organization currently operates nearly two dozen properties providing housing to around 4,000 people every night.
The modernistically curved-shaped Clarion building was formerly branded as a Quality Inn, and before that, a Travelodge Hotel.
By Garry Boulard
To upgrade and modernize small shipyards across the country, the federal Maritime Administration is making available up to $20 million funding in competitive grants.
The funding, more specifically, is coming through the Maritime Administration’s Small Shipyard Grant Program, which was launched in 2008 and has thus far awarded 323 grants with a total dollar value of $282 million.
In making the grant announcement, Ann Phillips, Administrator of the Maritime Administration, said, “Small shipyards are essential to the U.S. maritime industry and critical to ensuring that we have a resilient industry base.”
Continued Phillips: “These shipyards are an economic pillar, strengthening our maritime industry and the communities along and near our nation’s ports and waterways, and employing thousands of Americans, who ensure the nation maintains expertise and skills critical to our economic and national security.”
By design, the grants are only for shipyards employing up to 1,200 people. Last year the program awarded just under $20 million in grants to 24 small shipyards.
Deadline for grant applications to the Maritime Administration is February 27.
By Garry Boulard
Funding to the tune of $2 million has now been secured for the construction of a new fire station in Tubac, Arizona.
That funding is coming through the fiscal year 2023 omnibus legislation, after a specific request by Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Krysten Sinema. In all, the Grand Canyon State is receiving around $132 million out of Washington for various projects throughout the state.
The current 4,600 square foot fire station in Tubac is around 50 years old. In a statement, Tubac Fire District Chief Cheryl Horvath said the new station will “help us accommodate larger equipment, provide better resources for our hardworking personnel, and improve our ability to serve our growing community.”
The current station is located at 2227 Interstate 19/Frontage Road and has long needed upgrading. Among the issues plaguing it are outdated ventilation and water systems, restrooms and bathrooms that are not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, and too-narrow garage doors.
He facility also lacks an automatic sprinkler system.
With an estimated price tag of $1 million to bring the current facility up to date, members of the Tubac Fire District Governing Board voted in 2021 in favor of building a new station instead.
According to plans, the new facility will feature just under 8,800 square feet of fire truck and garage space, as well as some 5,300 square feet of office space.
Established in 1974, the Tubac Fire District currently has four strategically located stations
By Garry Boulard
Voters in Cochise County in southeastern Arizona will have a chance this spring to decide whether to approve a proposal calling for construction of a new jail.
The facility would replace the current jail at 203 N. Judd Street in the City of Bisbee. Jail officials have said that that facility, opened in the summer of 1985, is too antiquated for today’s needs and is burdened with several repair issues.
In an interview last year with the Herald/Review of Bisbee, retired Supreme Court Judge James Conlogue said of the Judd Street facility: “The problems cannot be overcome with money. It’s at its end of life.”
It cost just over $5.1 million to build the current facility. It is thought that it will probably cost around $92 million to complete a new jail.
Cochise County has now issued a Request for Arguments, noting the move to create a county jail district as the first step in getting the new jail built. In order to support that district, voters in May will vote up or down on a proposed increase in the county’s sales tax of one-half cent.
The Request for Arguments, gauging public opinion on the project, are required to be confined to 300 words or less and must be received by the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors no later than February 15.
According to sources, up to 10,000 people each year are booked into the Bisbee jail. The county maintains two smaller holding facilities in the nearby cities of Sierra Vista and Willcox, to the west and north of Bisbee.
By Garry Boulard
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