Construction is slated to begin in August on one of the larger projects in the El Paso Independent School District to be funded by a $668 million bond package passed by voters nearly two years ago.
The Burges High School at 7800 Edgemere Boulevard is located in the Cielo Vista neighborhood on the east side of El Paso.
Built in the mid-1950s, the two-story brick building has long been in need of being updated, say EPISD officials.
The bond work for the structure, which is expected to cost around $52 million, will see the construction of just under 130,000 square feet of new space, as well as the renovation of more than 50,000 square feet of existing space.
The new construction will include a two-story addition to the main school, as well as a theater and enhanced school courtyard.
Altogether, there are more than two dozen individual school facility construction, renovation and upgrading projects that are being funded by the 2016 bond.
By Garry Boulard
The nation’s cities are in need of a greater supply of affordable housing and increasingly worried about the loss of federal support to fund those efforts.
Those are two of the findings from a survey conducted by the Boston University Initiative on Cities which conducted interviews with 115 mayors from across the country, the vast majority of whom said it was crucial to create and build more housing alternatives for their residents.
The Menino Survey of Mayors, named in honor of the late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, shows some 51 percent of responding mayors pointing to housing costs as the number one reason people have moved out of their cities.
Regionally, the survey also revealed that while 47 percent of the mayors in the Northeast and Midwest had a generally positive view of the available housing stock in their cities, only 6 percent of the mayors in the West felt the same way.
Although Democrat and Republican mayors disagreed over the issue of improving housing stability for renters, with 24 percent of the Democrats and 4 percent of the Republicans in favor, roughly a third or more of the mayors in both parties wanted to see an increase in the availability of affordable multi-bedroom units.
Just under a third of the mayors in both parties thought it was important to modernize and replace their cities’ older housing stock.
A summary of the survey notes that “in the face of federal cuts, mayors are looking to a range of sources to make up for shortfalls.” Those sources, according to the mayors, may mean the imposition of either new state or local taxes, with the latter being “the most promising way to fund water infrastructure and bike/pedestrian improvements.”
By Garry Boulard
Work could begin later this year on the construction of a multi-level apartment complex that will be located some 15 blocks to the west of the Tucson campus of the University of Arizona.
What is being called the Union on Sixth will see the building of a structure, at the corner of Sixth Street and Fourth Avenue, that will be two to three stories in height on one side and up to seven stories on another.
Plans also call for some 8,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor, and parking spaces for 250 vehicles.
Under development by the Memphis-based EdR, the seven-story portion of the project would make it one of the tallest structures in a neighborhood dotted mostly with one and two-story commercial buildings built in the 1950s.
The scale of the project, which will see the building of around 250 apartment units, has in fact engendered the opposition of residents and community activists who say it will drastically alter the neighborhood feel of the area.
EdR, which specializes in student housing nationally, has said that the project will be geared for young adults and graduate students.
Plans additionally call for one local icon, the Flycatcher, a one-story bar and music club at 340 E. 6th Street, to be demolished in order to make way for the new project.
If all goes according to the current construction schedule, work on the Union on Sixth could be completed by the fall of 2020.
By Garry Boulard
A new apartment complex, to be built within the borders of a master planned community on the east side of Mesa, Arizona, is expected to see the beginning of construction later this spring.
What is being called The Premier will see the construction of 216 apartment units, along with such features as a resort style pool and defined green space for leisurely activities.
The project, on some 9 acres, is part of the larger Eastmark community, under development by the Los Angeles-based PCS Development, which in the last few years has seen the construction of hundreds of homes priced in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.
PCS specializes in the acquisition and development of real estate and has seen the construction of more than 4,000 residential apartment units, as well as urban and mixed-use projects, primarily in California.
Work on the apartment units portion of the site, at the intersection of S. Ellsworth Road and E. Ray Roads, is expected to be completed just over a year from now.
More than 900 homes have so far been sold in the 3,200-acre Eastmark community, making it one of the most popular master planned communities in the country.
By Garry Boulard
The 1960s wave of college campus construction done to accommodate the massive Baby Boom generation is now nearing the end of its natural facility life span with few indications that a similar national facility expansion will replace it.
That’s one of the conclusions of a report issued by a Guilford, Connecticut-based company that tracks trends in higher education.
According to the report entitled State of Facilities in Higher Education by the Sightlines company, the Baby Boom-era buildings today account for up to 40 percent of facility space on the nation’s college campuses, “creating significant stress on institutions as to what to do with those buildings.”
At the same time, another wave of campus facility construction from the 1990s to the 2000s is expected to require significant maintenance outlays in the coming decade, representing yet another capital demand on the nation’s universities and colleges.
Despite such challenges and an ongoing lack of funding options, many schools, according to the report, have taken on new construction projects in the last decade.
In fact, there has been a more than 10 percent growth in new facility construction since 2006, outdistancing an 8 percent growth in the schools’ overall enrollment.
Even so, said Mark Schiff, president of Sightlines, the vast majority of the nation’s institutions of higher learning “continue to underestimate the renewal needs of deteriorating spaces while pushing high-risk investments into new facilities.”
By Garry Boulard
In an ongoing effort to build a new home and studio for one of the most durable Public Broadcasting System affiliates in the country, more than $22 million has now been raised to fund the ambitious project.
The Rocky Mountain Public Media, which oversees both Rocky Mountain PBS, as well as KUVO-FM Jazz radio, announced in early 2016 that it wanted to build a new 63,000 square foot facility in downtown Denver’s Arapahoe Square.
Altogether, the new facility, which has been in the talking stage for some 8 years, is expected to cost $30 million to build and will replace Rocky Mountain Public Media’s current headquarters at 1089 Bannock Street.
The new building, under the design of the Denver-based Tryba Architects, will include flexible studio space, recording studios, and both classrooms and offices.
Fund-raising for the project got a particular lift early last year with a $6 million contribution from the non-profit Buell Foundation of Denver, which supports a variety of educational endeavors.
Work on what is being called the Buell Public Media Center is expected to begin sometime in August.
Rocky Mountain PBS, whose programs reach 98 percent of Colorado’s television viewing audience, traces its broadcast roots to 1956 when it began airing educational programs several hours a day.
By Garry Boulard
A distilling company is in the early stage of plans to build a distillery in Socorro, New Mexico.
The project, which has bas been discussed by interested parties for several years, would see the multi-phase construction of a warehouse, several barrel aging houses, offices, and an outdoor entertainment venue.
The Gerard Distilling Company would go up inside the Socorro Industrial Park on an initial 6 out of a potential 25 acres. Plans call for the facility to be surrounded by a grove of pecan trees which will be used for their yeast in the production of the company’s bourbon.
The 800-acre Socorro Industrial Park is located off of U.S. Route 60.
Danny Gerard, the owner of the company, has told members of the Socorro City Council that one of the product names will called Trinity Whiskey in honor of the testing of the first atomic device in Socorro in 1945.
Offices for the Gerard Distilling Company are located at 1598 Enterprise Road in Socorro.
Plans currently call for the acquiring of the 6 acres to begin initial construction for the project.
By Garry Boulard
Restoring the federal tax exemption for advance refunding bonds could allow state and local governments to take on a series of much-needed infrastructure projects.
That is the conclusion of the National Association of State Treasurers, which has issued a statement calling on Congress to write back into the law the tax exemption which has previously been used to fund thousands of infrastructure projects.
“Last year more than $100 billion in advance refunding bonds were issued, saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that could then be reinvested into vital infrastructure projects,” the association has said.
The tax exemption for the use of such bonds was discarded late last year as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
The association says that because advance refunding bonds allow state and local insurers to refinance bonds at a lower rate, funding is freed up for any number of infrastructure projects.
Representatives Randy Hultgren of Illinois and Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland have introduced legislation in Congress to restore the tax exemption. That legislation is now in the House Ways and Means Committee.
By Garry Boulard
As speculation increases that Amazon will soon announce where it wants to build its second headquarters, some detractors in Denver, which is on the company’s Top 20 finalists list, are not so sure they want it in the Mile High City.
Increasingly, calls to local radio shows and letters to Denver area newspapers indicate that residents are uneasy about the possible impact of the internet commerce giant putting up what could be a $5 billion, 500,000 square foot facility.
And although, according to news reports, Amazon finalists have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements regarding incentives package details, some are questioning whether such incentives offerings may prove too sweeping.
“No income taxes, no property taxes, and no sales taxes for decades,” former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm recently warned of the effect of such incentives in the publication Westword. “Local taxpayers end up subsidizing the company for decades.”
The incentives package approach has also been attacked by a group called Generation Opportunity, which has unleashed a social media campaign characterizing those incentives as “corporate welfare.”
Looking at the game-changing nature of having such a large enterprise built in Denver, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who supports the city’s efforts to secure the Amazon project, nevertheless told a business gathering, “There will be a sense of relief if they choose somewhere else because a lot of challenges and a lot of hard work we will be avoiding.”
Amazon originally received bids from over 200 cities before releasing its Top 20 list in January.
Although Denver was originally rated by experts as the city most likely to secure the Amazon project, in recent weeks many of those same experts have said the company will probably pick a location on the East coast.
A recent informal Denver Business Journal poll showed that 79 percent of respondents thought Denver will most likely not be picked by Amazon for its new headquarters.
The City of Farmington’s Public Utility Commission is recommending that members of the Farmington City Council give their approval to the construction of a 1.1-megawatt solar array.
The project, which has been in the talking stage for several months, would go up on a 6-acre site on the south side of the city near the seven hundred block of West Murray Drive and the Bluffview Power Plant.
Although the solar power generation facility, upon completion, would provide only a portion of Farmington’s total energy needs, city officials have said it will be in keeping with Farmington’s goal of having an integrated resource plan.
As currently proposed, the energy from the array would be purchased through subscriptions by Farmington Electric Utility System customers.
The Farmington City Council is expected to make a final decision on the project later this month. If approved, the project will be done in conjunction with Ameresco, Inc., of Phoenix, a company founded in 2000 that specializes in renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions.
By Garry Boulard
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