The El Paso County Planning Commission has give its approval to a project that will see the construction, on a 40-acre site, of a new shooting range just outside the town of Ramah, Colorado.
The new shooting complex will be built by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department.
The project is set to go up at the Ramah Reservoir State Wildlife Area and will see the building of 10-foot high baffles and beams designed to protect nearby residents from stray bullets, while also lessening the noise from the range.
As planned, the project, which has been the subject of several public input meetings, will also include the construction of shade shelters and firing benches. The site would also include two pistol galleries and five individual rifle ranges.
Those galleries and ranges will be of varying lengths.
Work could begin on what is estimated to be a $500,000 project later this year.
Although the project sparked the opposition of neighbors who said they were concerned about increased traffic and the possibility of being hit by bullets fired on the range, it also won the support of the Colorado Springs Gazette.
By Garry Boulard
A move to pay more attention to how schools are designed, in an effort to make them both more safe and energy efficient, is being promoted by the American Institute of Architects.
As officials of that group are meeting with congressional leaders in Washington, William Batles, AIA president, released a statement declaring, “We need lawmakers to hear firsthand how architects are creative problem-solvers who see the big picture and bring the innovative instinct and technical knowledge that is needed to address many of our most challenging issues.”
Specifically, the organization is asking Congress to make design services eligible for existing federal grants.
The group has also said that it wants to see established a federally-run clearinghouse of design resources that could be regularly tapped by education officials when planning or building a new school facility.
In a “Where We Stand” statement, the AIA has additionally noted: “Much of the public debate about school safety has focused on access to firearms and mental health services. Neither approach to solving school violence has progressed much over many years despite all-too-frequent tragedies.”
The statement added: “Architects can improve school safety through the power of design now.”
The clearinghouse idea won the support late last year of the Federal Commission on School Safety.
On the issue of making school buildings more energy efficient, the AIA is asking Congress to establish a new tax incentive that would allow for enhancing energy efficiency features in both new and existing structures.
By Garry Boulard
A new 1 million square foot facility for the production of hydrogen fuel cell trucks is set to go up in Coolidge, Arizona.
The Nikola Motor Company has announced that it wants to build the plant on roughly 400 acres inside what is called the Inland Port Authority/Pinal Logistics Park as a move to meet the demand for its highly popular class eight trucks.
The project, is being done in conjunction with Saint Holdings, a land holding company based in Scottsdale.
The move complements a larger trend that is seeing a general rise in vehicle manufacturing throughout southern Arizona.
Because the facility will eventually hire a workforce of more than 2,000 people, Trevor Milton, the chief executive officer of Nikola, noted the positive community aspects of the project. “Imagine what it will do for property values, schools, parks, and other city improvements,” Milton said in a statement.
Nikola officials are hoping to see work begin on the new manufacturing plant later this year.
Based in Phoenix, the five year-old Nikola Motor Company is named after legendary inventor Nikola Tesla, and specializes in electric semi-trucks as well as electric components and drivetrains.
Customer interest and demand in Nikola’s electric Class 8 heavy truck has been significant with more than 13,000 of those vehicles, according to the company, already pre-ordered.
Nikola’s plans for opening up a new manufacturing facility in Coolidge have been in the talking stage for several months.
Last September members of the Coolidge City Council entered into a development agreement with the company that included a package of tax incentives, including a 49 percent sales tax reimbursement, to get the facility built in Coolidge.
By Garry Boulard
The entire New Mexico congressional delegation is lobbying to have the newly-created federal Space Development Agency put down roots in the Land of Enchantment.
That agency, operating as a separate entity under the umbrella of the Department of Defense, would be tasked with overall policy and program development, as well as the execution of next-generation military space capabilities.
Patrick Shanahan, acting secretary of defense, has explained in a Defense Department memo that the agency would also would be responsible for building a “national space architecture that provides the persistent, resilient, global, low-latency surveillance needed to deter or, if deterrence fails, defeat adversary action.”
The Department of Defense wants $149 million in the fiscal year 2020 federal budget to get the agency going.
But where exactly the agency will ultimately be housed remains an open question.
New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, along with Representatives Deb Haaland, Ben Ray Lujan, and Xochitl Torres Small, have jointly signed a letter to the Defense Department stating that New Mexico is “already home to many of the nation’s core space assets and has a significant space R & D community.”
The letter additionally notes the existence of the Space Rapid Capabilities Office at the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, as well as the sprawling Spaceport America facility just outside of Truth or Consequences.
Competition for securing the Space Development Agency base is expected to be waged by several other states, including Alabama, which is the home to the Huntsville-based U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
By Garry Boulard
An end of the year 2018 decline in the Gross Domestic Product should be viewed in the context of the larger robust year, says a Department of Commerce official.
Nothing that overall the GDP was up by 3.1 percent for the entire year, Brian Moyer, undersecretary for economic affairs with the Commerce Department, asserted that that 3.1 percent “provides a focused picture of how the economy has grown from the last part of 2017 to the last part of 2018.”
In a statement, Moyer additionally noted that private domestic investment in 2018 grew 7 percent, the fastest growth rate in more than a decade.
Despite those numbers, some economists are predicting a GDP decrease for the rest of this year.
According to the CNBC Fed Survey, the GDP growth rate is pegged at 2.3 percent for the duration of 2019, with an even slower growth rate of just 2.0 percent in 2020.
In the face of that decline, Ben Casselman, a financial analyst writing in the New York Times, suggests that all such numbers should be kept in perspective.
“The fourth quarter slowdown wasn’t as severe as many forecasters had feared,” said Casselman, “and even with the loss of momentum late in the year, 2018 as a whole was among the best years of the decade-long recovery from the Great Recession.”
Analysts have also noted that in the face of the declining GDP, the nation’s construction industry continued to post late 2018 gains, driven partly by a 4.1 percent increase in non-residential buildings, along with a 2.1 percent increase in residential construction.
By Garry Boulard
A two-story brick building in downtown El Paso, that for some 90 years served as the home to a J.C. Penney department store, is on the verge of being readapted for a new use by a local real estate investor.
Michael Johnson, owner of the El Paso-based MJ Real Properties, has purchased the Penney’s building at 325 E. San Antonio Avenue with the intention of bringing the property back to life.
The Plano, Texas-based Penney’s chain closed the El Paso store in the summer of 2017 as part of a larger national effort seeing some 140 of its more than 1,000 outlets put out of business.
In a continued cost-cutting effort, Penney’s last month announced the closing of an additional 27 stores.
Johnson has said that he may build a dozen or so loft-style apartments at the former Penney’s site, while also refurbishing the building’s façade.
Giant cement slabs that were added in later decades in an attempt to give the store a modern look will be removed, revealing the building’s brick exterior, and emphasizing its large front bay windows, which will shaded by wrap-around metal awnings.
The structure’s exterior work is partly being funded through a grant from the El Paso Downtown Management District’s Commercial Façade Improvement Program.
The total cost of the exterior project is estimated at just over $86,000.
The Penney’s chain was launched in 1902 and for decades was known for its wide variety of work clothing and shoes, as well as home furnishings and accessories.
In the wake of the chain’s outlet closings, other retailers have moved in to repurpose those vacant Penney’s store.
The Rochester, New York-based grocery chain Wegmann’s has reconverted a former Penney’s store in Natick, Massachusetts; while Home Décor Superstores of Plano, Texas has done the same with a one-time Penney’s outlet in Longmont, Colorado.
By Garry Boulard
What is being billed as an energy park that would stretch nearly 2,000 miles along the U.S./Mexican border is being proposed as an alternative to the construction of a border wall.
The idea is being touted as akin to the massive public works project as embodied by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s, and one that would respond to the energy needs of both countries.
Spearheaded by the National Academy of Engineering, the proposal is the result of a consortium of nearly thirty eminent scientists and engineers who say the park would include the construction of gas and water pipelines, as well as wind turbines and energy panels.
In a press release, Luciano Castillo, a professor of renewable energy and power systems at Purdue University, said the project would be built in the tradition of previous grand-scale infrastructure projects that may have initially been seen as improbable.
“Just like the transcontinental railroad transformed the United States in the 19th century, or the Interstate system transformed the 20th century, this would be a national infrastructure project for the 21st century,” said Castillo.
Looking at the unusual proposal, Scientific American magazine remarked: “Crazy? Maybe—or maybe not. History is full of ideas that initially sounded wacky yet ended up changing society.”
The project would be built as a kind of opportunity zone for both countries to not just provide energy solutions, but also address water availability issues that challenge farmers on both sides of the border.
Castillo has said that the project would also uniquely respond to the concerns of leaders and interest groups in the U.S. across the political divide, from those who see border security as a paramount issue, to those who are touting the Green New Deal.
Advocates of the project say they intend to more fully publicize the idea in a series of workshops held throughout the southwest in the coming months, while also talking with Congressional leaders about the energy park’s potential.
By Garry Boulard
A project that could see the construction of a multi-purpose water park in El Paso may end up being built on a portion of a site belonging to a middle school.
That site, at 6101 Hughey Drive in central El Paso, is the home to the Ross Middle School, one of the more than fifty elementary schools belonging to the El Paso Independent School District.
Because students from that school are being sent to the nearby Hughey Elementary School as part of a district-wide consolidation initiative, the site is open for other uses.
EPISD officials have indicated that they are open to selling a 5-acre portion of the site for around $540,000.
The water park itself is expected to cost up to $7 million to build, with most of the funding for the project coming out of the Quality of Life bond approved by El Paso voters in 2012.
Initial reports indicate that the park will include water slides, lazy rivers, lap pools, and climbing walls.
City officials have said that they’d like to see the water park completed in time for the 2020 summer season.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are in the works for the construction of a new condominium project that will go up in Denver’s well-known Clements Historic District, populated with mansion homes from the 1800s.
The project is being developed by PSW Real Estate, an Austin-based company specializing in both residential and mixed-use projects, as well as urban infill development.
As envisioned, the five-story condominium project will be built on a site that is currently being used as a parking lot.
That 0.79-acre site, at 2137 Glenarm Place, was purchased by PSW Real Estate in February for $3.7 million.
It could cost anywhere from $16 million to $20 million to build the new property, depending upon its ultimate final size.
Speaking with the BisNow Denver, Chris Auxier, the director of acquisitions and development for PSW, said the Glenarm Place project is the first of “several developments we have in the pipeline in the Denver market.”
The project is expected to feature two-bedroom units measuring in size from 800 square feet to just over 1,000 square feet. Also included in the project’s plans is underground parking space.
Designer is Craine Architecture of Denver, with a practice focus on residential and multifamily communities.
The developer is currently in the process of conducting public outreach meetings on the project with Clements District residents.
By Garry Boulard
A Mountain View, California-based company specializing in advanced driverless vehicle technology has announced plans to build a new 85,000 square foot full-service facility in Mesa.
Waymo LLC opened an operations center and garage in Chandler three years ago as part of a larger business model seeing driverless cars operating inside what is called a geo-fenced vicinity that also includes the city of Tempe and the village of Ahwatukee.
What is being called the Technical Service Center will provide a Mesa facility for Waymo to service and maintain a growing fleet of several hundred vehicles. The company says the new facility will help them more than double their capacity to keep that fleet in condition.
The new center is expected to be built near the intersection of Broadway Road and Dobson Road on the west side of Mesa, although the exact site location has not yet been disclosed.
Waymo first began research work on self-driving technology in 2009, and launched a self-driving taxi service in greater Phoenix in 2017.
The company expanded its Chandler operations last year, adding more than 20,000 square feet to an existing 39,000 square foot facility.
Waymo is also currently retrofitting a 200,000 square foot manufacturing space in Novi, Michigan, 30 miles northwest of Detroit. That project comes with a $14 million price tag.
The company uses a radar-like technology in its vehicles, along with cameras and internal maps, to navigate streets and roads.
According to statistics compiled by Waymo, its cars have to date logged more than 10 million miles on roads in Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan, and Washington.
The company has said that it is invested in the larger metropolitan Phoenix because it comprises a sprawling area with wide city streets and a population that is vehicle-dependent.
By Garry Boulard
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