A move to build a museum honoring the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II is moving through the New Mexico State Legislature by an unusual process of Senate members providing some of their own capital outlay money to get the facility built.
The original legislation, as proposed by Senator John Pinto, is asking for $1 million in state funding to build the facility, won the unanimous approval of the Senate Indian and Cultural Affairs Committee in January.
The museum, which would also serve as a veterans center, would be built on Navajo land in McKinley County not far from the Arizona border.
Pinto, who has served in the New Mexico legislature since 1977, was a code talker himself, and is one of the last of the remaining Native American veterans serving in that cause in World War II.
A fiscal analysis of Senate Bill 365 prepared by the Legislative Finance Committee notes that the requested $1 million, to be spent in fiscal year 2020, would go for both the design and construction of the facility.
Up to 500 Native Americans, the vast majority of whom were Navajo and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, were given the task of using their Native American languages to transmit coded messages during the war.
The Navajo contribution to the Allied cause was praised by author Deanne Durret in Unsung Heroes of World War II: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers, who noted that the “code soon proved invaluable in jungle combat where units were easily cut off from the command post and the Japanese intercepted transmissions at will.”
Japanese intelligence, continued Durret, “decoded most messages—except those sent in Navajo Code.”
By Garry Boulard
In an effort to prohibit dumping, the federal Department of Commerce has announced that it is launching an investigation looking into Canadian, Chinese, and Mexican fabricated steel imports.
In particular, the department is seeking to ascertain whether or not fabricated structural steel from those counties is being sold in the United States at a less than fair value.
Fabricated steel is widely used in everything from commercial, office, institutional, and residential construction, not to mention arenas, convention centers, and medical facilities.
The investigation is also tasked with trying to find out if producers in Canada, China, and Mexico are receiving unfair government subsidies.
In a press release, the department notes that there are a combined 109 alleged program violations regarding imports from the three countries, including tax, grant, loan, equity, and, export insurance programs.
If, after the investigation, the Commerce Department should arrive at an affirmative finding regarding dumping and/or unfairly subsidized imports, it will “impose duties on those imports in the amount of dumping and/or unfair subsidization found to exist.”
Those duties would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to begin collecting cash deposits from any U.S. company importing the steel in question from Canada, China, and Mexico.
A preliminary determination is expected to be announced by March 21, followed by further investigations and determinations in May.
By Garry Boulard
A national developer of massive data centers has announced plans to upgrade and repurpose a 418,000 square foot warehouse in the growing high-tech city of Goodyear, Arizona.
Stream Data Centers, which is based in Dallas, says the project will go up on nearly 160 acres the company recently purchased.
According to reports, initial work on the project may only represent its first phase, with more than 1 million additional square feet being built in the future.
Site work will also include a substation to power the center which will be put up by the Arizona Public Service Electric Company.
In a statement, Robert Kennedy, co-managing partner of Stream Data Centers, said the company decided to build in the Goodyear-Phoenix metro area because it has “quickly emerged as one of the top destinations” in the country for data and cloud operations.
Stream Data Centers was founded in 1999 and has so far developed more than 2.5 million square feet of data center space across the country.
Last year, the company announced plans to launch a new 138,000 square foot data center on a 400,000 square foot campus in Garland, Texas, just months after starting work on a 128,000 square foot center in metro Chicago.
By Garry Boulard
The New Mexico State Senate has approved a bill that could led to the construction of a series of underpasses allowing for the safe highway passage of wildlife.
Senate Bill 228, otherwise known as the Wildlife Corridors Act, would dedicate $500,000 to study how highway projects in the state could incorporate such underpasses into their planning.
The bill, as proposed by Senator Mimi Stewart, would direct the New Mexico Department of Transportation, as well as the Department of Game and Fish, to study what would be needed to build such underpasses.
According to a fiscal analysis of the legislation, Senate Bill 228 would ask the agencies in question to “identify and maintain seasonal dispersals, daily movements, and landscape scale migrations of wildlife through the state.”
The measure would also provide opportunities to “collaborate with Indian nations, tribes, and pueblos for cross tribal boundaries on wildlife corridors and habitat enhancement.”
An amendment to Stewart’s legislation would prohibit the use of eminent domain measures to secure private property for the underpasses.
The measure won passage in the Senate on a 24 to 18 vote and is now on its way to the House for consideration.
By Garry Boulard
A survey of more than 200 engineering firms conducted by the American Council of Engineering Companies reveals that many companies nationally are feeling pensive about immediate business conditions, particularly in the water and wastewater project sectors.
With a score above 50 indicating positive market sentiment, the newest Engineering Business Index, compiled in early and mid-January, showed an overall drop of 66 to 58 from the last quarter report.
The ACE said that decline represented both the swiftest drop and lowest rating since the survey was first launched in 2014.
With the exception of transportation work, responding engineering firms said they expected to see a loss of business in energy and power sectors, as well as land development and surveying work.
According to the report, Engineering Firm Leader Confidence Drops, profitability expectations for the next six months have declined from a score of 73 to 52, while backlog projections for the coming year went from 68 to 62.
Individual respondents said that one of the factors animating the decline in industry optimism was the ongoing rancor in Washington resulting from the government shutdown.
One respondent to the survey said if the nation’s politicians could “somehow get on the same page, then we could see another bull market and increases in private development and construction.”
By Garry Boulard
The highly popular Santa Fe-based immersive art venue known as Meow Wolf has announced plans to bring its unique brand of creative space and recreation to downtown Phoenix.
Already presiding over a thriving home operation in Santa Fe, with new locations in the development stage in Denver, Las Vegas, and Washington, Meow Wolf wants to build a combined exhibition, hotel, and music space in Phoenix’s historic Roosevelt Row.
The project will go up on currently vacant land in the 800 block of North Third Street and will see the building out of 75,000 square feet of exhibition space, and 10,000 square feet devoted to music and performing arts.
The hotel will have 400 rooms, with each of those rooms uniquely designed by artists.
Partner for the project is the real estate development firm True North Studio of Phoenix.
The Roosevelt Row project will mark the first time that Meow Wolf has ventured into the hospitality business.
In a statement, Vince Kadlubek, chief executive officer of Meow Wolf, said the motivation behind the Phoenix project is a desire to “produce an authentic, local statement of expression which will bring further excitement and creative energy to the Roosevelt Row Arts District.”
Kadlubek added: “This project is going to be truly monumental on so many levels.”
It is not known exactly when Meow Wolf will begin construction on its new Phoenix project, which is being described by the company as a multi-year effort.
Launched in 2008, Meow Wolf has proven a highly successful and popular arts and entertainment business.
Its Santa Fe operation was substantially enhanced in 2015 through the financial support of fantasy author George R.R. Martin. That support led to the renovation of the former Silva Lanes bowling alley as a permanent home for Meow Wolf.
By Garry Boulard
A feasibility study is being undertaken of a proposal to build a new multi-purpose arena at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds in Albuquerque.
The study will help Expo New Mexico officials determine the probable size of the new facility, its construction costs, and other aspects of the project.
If eventually approved, the new stadium, with a likely seating capacity of 15,000, would be built near the site of the current Tingley Coliseum located at 300 San Pedro Drive NE.
That facility, built in 1957 as a horse show and rodeo venue, has long hosted a variety of entertainment and fairgrounds events, and has additionally been home to the New Mexico Scorpions ice hockey team as well as football’s Duke City Gladiators.
It past years, the Tingley Coliseum has memorably showcased such entertainment legends as Elvis Presley, Elton John, and Prince.
But because the Tingley Coliseum has a seating capacity of around 11,000, the facility has failed to attract the kind of larger entertainment events which today often require more space for staging.
If a new arena is eventually built, the coliseum may very well be demolished.
The feasibility study is expected to cost around $100,000 and should be completed by this summer.
By Garry Boulard
The largest developer and owner of student housing in the country is reporting that it currently has more than $767 million projects in development.
All of these projects, according to the company’s just-released financial statement, are expected to see construction and completion between the fall of this year and 2021.
The projects, continues the statement, are all being planned as Class A student housing space that will be located either on a college or university campus, or within walking distance to one.
Overall revenue for the Austin, Texas-based American Campus Communities last year was just over $117 million, significantly up from the $69 million posted in 2017.
The company also, combining recently completed projects with already existing projects, now owns a total of 150 individual complexes nationwide, housing more than 109,000 beds.
In a statement, Bill Bayless, chief executive officer of American Campus Communities, described the company as well-positioned for future growth.
Speaking with analysts during a conference call, Bayless acknowledged concerns over continued student enrollment growth nationally, a growth that is needed to fuel continued housing projects.
But he noted that a quick look at the number of 18 to 22 year-olds nationally who are either currently enrolled at a premiere institution of higher learning, or trying to get into one, indicated that the demand for student housing was going to continue into the foreseeable future.
While the company has built properties primarily in the Midwest and South, it also has nearly two dozen student complexes up and running in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
By Garry Boulard
A proposal to substantially increase the current exhibition space within the historic Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs is on its way to the city’s Planning Commission.
In an effort to attract larger conventions, hotel officials want to build a 150,000-square foot exhibit hall addition that would be added to an existing 185,000 square feet of meeting space at the hotel.
The addition would be attached to the hotel’s Broadmoor Hall, which was built in 2005.
The expansion plan also calls for the construction of 17,000 square feet of breakout space.
It has been noted that not only would the additional space prove more appealing for larger conventions, it would also bring in more guests to the hotel itself.
Situated in the historic Broadmoor neighborhood of Colorado Springs, the hotel was opened in the summer of 1918, and has hosted everyone from President Franklin Roosevelt to King Hussein of Jordan and football greats John Elway and Peyton Manning.
Located at 1 Lake Avenue, the hotel is known for its unique pink stucco façade, hand-painted ceilings and beams, ornate lobby chandeliers, and curved marble staircase.
If it secures city approval, the exhibition space would be built on some 7.4 undeveloped acres out of a sprawling 3,000-acre campus.
City officials are currently seeking public input on the expansion plan, with a review of that plan expected to be undertaken by the planning commission in late March.
By Garry Boulard
Located at 215 N. Mesa in downtown El Paso, the four-story, U-shaped Roberts Banner Building has for decades housed a mix of upper floor office space and ground floor retail.
Now, the more than century-old structure is on the verge of being re-purposed and transformed into an upscale boutique hotel.
Grupo CC, a hotel development company based in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, has announced plans to tap into El Paso’s robust downtown hospitality business with a project that will feature 64 upscale rooms.
Plans also call for the building of several restaurants, as well as a rooftop bar and meeting space.
It is thought that the renovation and upgrading project could cost at least $10 million to complete.
Like many of the most significant historic structures in downtown El Paso, the Roberts Banner building was designed by legendary southwest architect Henry Trost.
Built in the Romanesque style, the building was completed in 1910 and named in honor of local business leaders Martin Roberts and William Banner.
In its heyday between 1910 and the 1950s, the building was a thriving home to any number of physicians, lawyers, realtors, engineers, and oil company executives.
If all goes as planned, work on the historic property could begin later this year.
By Garry Boulard
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