Up to $70 billion is expected to be spent between now and 2021 in moves to modernize the nation’s airports.
The projects, according to the Alexandria, Virginia-based Airport Consultants Council, are or will be taking place at more than 50 airports across the country, with a special emphasis on modernizing terminals.
Those terminals are increasingly seeing the build-out of new restaurant and retail space, along with even children’s play areas.
The projects are taking place in the wake of a Congressional vote earlier this year maintaining the current cap on the nation’s Passenger Facility Charge. Revenues from that fee are used to fund any number of airport facility expansion projects.
Groups such as the Airports Council International-North America contended that doing away with the cap, which would allow for a higher fee and more revenue, was vital for supporting airport infrastructure needs.
Congress instead created a $1 billion grant program to fund those same needs.
Next month, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to publish a notice in the Federal Register, providing additional information and deadlines for airports submitting grant applications.
Congress has also passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018, offering up to $3.3 billion in Airport Improvement Program grants for the next 5 years.
Those grants target facility improvements at smaller airports.
By Garry Boulard
A transportation system using levitation-based technology and capable of moving passengers hundreds of miles in mere minutes could see the construction of a passenger terminal on a site near the Denver International Airport.
The Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop One last year proposed building a high-speed network carrying passengers in vacuum-sealed pods and low-pressure tunnels from one place to another in Colorado.
In a competition sponsored by the company, a proposed north-south route connecting the cities of Cheyenne, Wyoming to Denver, with side stops to Vail, Colorado, was designated as a “winning route” by the company.
That route was one of ten routes in various places around the world selected by Virgin Hyperloop as potential locations for its network.
The company has now released a rendering of what the first passenger terminal in Colorado would look like: a modern and angular structure dominated by glass walls.
A report compiled last fall by the Colorado Department of Transportation estimated that it would require at least $24 billion in investment to get the hyperloop system up and running.
For the present, Virgin Hyperloop One will be tasked with putting together a feasibility study to determine the basic economics of the project, the extent of ridership demand, and on what lands the system would be built.
That feasibility study is expected to be completed and released by this fall.
If built, the hyperloop would be capable of moving passengers at a rate of 700 miles per hour, reducing what is today a one-hour trip between Colorado Springs and Denver to only 6 minutes.
Earlier reports have also indicated that the hyperloop could be used for transporting supplies and goods from various cities along a route to the Denver International Airport.
By Garry Boulard
In an increasing effort to expand its area of service, the Tucson-based Northwest Healthcare has announced plans to build a $70 million new hospital 15 miles to the south in the town of Sahuarita.
Those plans call for work to begin most likely later this year on a structure that will house 18 beds and will go up a 5.6-acre site near the intersection of Interstate 19 and Sahuarita Road.
The new 70,000 square-foot acute care facility will feature an emergency room, two operating rooms, and offices.
In a statement, Kevin Stockton, regional president for Northwest Healthcare, said the Sahuarita hospital will “enable us to offer a variety of healthcare services beyond our traditional Northwest footprint.”
The healthcare company also plans to spend another $80 million upgrading and renovating facilities it already operates in both Tucson and Oro Valley.
The new Sahuarita hospital project still awaits the approval of the Sahuarita Town Council.
By Garry Boulard
With news that Internet commerce giant Amazon is unhappy with its home city of Seattle, speculation has intensified that the company’s search for a second headquarters could result in a larger-than-anticipated presence in whatever new location it selects.
Amazon officials have recently expressed their displeasure over a Seattle City Council vote imposing a 26 cents tax per employee for each hour worked at any company earning at least $20 million in annual revenue.
That tax is designed to raise an estimated $47 million per year from Amazon and several other large companies to be spent building affordable housing in Seattle.
Although the company has reaffirmed its plans to build a 17-story office tower in Seattle called Block 18 in the wake of the council vote, it has sounded a note of skepticism regarding its longterm commitment to the city.
Amazon, said Drew Herdener, is “apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here.”
In a statement, Herdener, vice-president of Amazon, added: “We are highly uncertain whether the city council’s anti-business positions or its spending inefficiency will change for the better.”
“In plain English, it’s threatening to leave,” notes Channel News Asia of Amazon’s response.
In the wake of the council vote, Amazon has announced its support of an effort called “No Tax on Jobs,” which is designed to collect signatures calling for a referendum on the council’s decision.
Meanwhile, the reviewing process for where the company will build its $5 billion second headquarters has resulted in Jeff Bezos, the chief executive officer of Amazon, flying to Washington more than any other city on the company’s finalists list, according to a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal.
The publication also noted that Bezos has in recent months flown into the Boulder Municipal Airport, prompting speculation that he remains interested in Denver.
The Mile-High City was named in January by Amazon as one of its twenty finalist cities for the construction of a second headquarters.
Business analyst Josh Enomoto recently suggested that ultimately Denver may get Amazon’s nod, noting: “It’s home to a major international airport, yet getting to it isn’t a nightmare like in L.A. or New York.”
Writing for Yahoo Finance, Enomoto continued: “Denver has a robust housing market and a fairly educated population. Furthermore, it’s getting an influx of people who enjoy its big-small town vibes.”
By Garry Boulard
Taking in more than 800 animals every month, the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley, based in Las Cruces, has the highest intake of animals per capita in the nation.
In a several day period alone in April, the shelter received more than 120 cats due to a hoarding case.
For that reason, officials with the facility, which is funded jointly by the City of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County, have for some time been arguing the case for more shelter space.
Now just such a project may be underway if members of the Las Cruces City Council next month include funding for a new shelter as part of a proposed $35 million general obligation bond.
If first approved by the council, and then by voters in an August election, some $9.8 million would be allotted to construct a new shelter near the intersection of Bataan Memorial Street and Riconada Boulevard.
Along with that new shelter, the $9.8 million would also pay for the renovation of the center’s existing shelter on the same site at 3553 Bataan Memorial.
That one-story facility was built in the early 1980s and, given the large number of animal intakes, is almost always operating at capacity level.
If the council decides to make a new animal facility one of the bond projects, it may well prove popular with voters: an informal survey conducted by the City of Las Cruces indicated that more than 70 percent of respondents wanted to see a new shelter built.
By Garry Boulard
In a part of Colorado, where upwards of a quarter of the population are expected to be 65 years of age or older in the next several years, an effort is underway to build two new senior living projects.
The Boulder-based Rubicon Development, working with Academy Senior Living, also of Boulder, is already well along in the process of developing some 93 units especially for senior residents at the spacious site of the former Boulder Community Hospital.
Now, the same parties have announced plans for a second senior project, this one to go up on a 1.6-acre site in the central part of the city at 1665 33rd Street.
That property is the former home of the popular Fruehauf’s Patio, a nursery, garden, and patio supply store that earlier this year announced it was moving to nearby Westminster.
This newest project could see the construction of up to 100 affordable senior apartment units, as well as office, retail, and restaurant space.
According to city documents, the 33rd Street project would see the construction of two 5-story buildings, and up to 7500 square feet of office space.
Retail space at the site would comprise some 2,800 square feet, with 4,400 square feet designated as restaurant space. The project will also include a tree-lined courtyard.
Designed by the Coburn Architecture of Boulder, the structures will feature flat roofs, light brick exteriors, and steel detailing.
It is not yet known if an on-site greenhouse, designed by the late Boulder architect Hobart Wagener in 1978, will be incorporated into the development’s plans.
By Garry Boulard
The effort to conclude an updated framework for the North American Free Trade Agreement may not be concluded this year, according to sources familiar with the talks going on between U.S., Canadian, and Mexican trade representatives.
Passed in 1994, NAFTA created a trilateral trade block in North America with reduced tariffs for a variety of equipment and goods, including such construction industry essentials as pumps, motors, and actuators.
In a statement, Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative, said current NAFTA negotiations have “covered a wide variety of complex issues, especially those objectives outlawed by Congress as part of the bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority such as intellectual property, dairy, and agriculture.”
But those negotiations are coming up against an earlier-declared deadline of July 1, when the voters of Mexico will go to the polls to elect a new president. The current front-runner in that race, Manuel Lopez Obrador, has been critical of the original NAFTA document, and said, if elected, he is likely to work against ratifying an updated framework that is hastily put together.
One of the issues thought to be challenging NAFTA negotiators is a move by the U.S. wanting to see larger portions of cars built inside the U.S., with Mexican officials saying such a stipulation would negatively impact higher-paid auto workers in Mexico.
By Garry Boulard
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceeding in El Paso, set for late July, could determine whether one of the buildings owned by local businessman William Abraham could be leased out and transformed into a new hotel.
If approved by Chapter 11 bankruptcy trustee Ronald Ingalls, the lease could be worth around $185,000 annually over a stipulated 30-year period of time.
That figure would ultimately be considerably greater than a $250,000 offer by businessman Paul Foster to purchase the property outright.
Located at 105 N. Oregon Street, what is known as the American Furniture Building has been largely vacant in recent years, and today has only one tenant, a ground-level UPS store.
The building, which was designed by architect Henry C. Trost and opened in 1922, served as a combination showroom, office, and workspace for decades for the American Furniture Company.
It was converted into general office space by the 1980s.
In 2010 a report for the City of El Paso’s Building and Standards Board said the structure had electrical, mechanical, and plumbing violations.
Two months ago, Abraham indicated in court proceedings that he had been working on a possible deal with Jose Gonzalez, an El Paso developer, to transform the 7-story building into a TRYP Hotel as part of the national Wyndham hotel chain.
That deal, currently being reviewed by Ingalls, is expected to be opposed in court by Abraham’s creditors.
TRYP hotels typically cater to an upscale clientele and also house restaurant and retail space.
By Garry Boulard
Long-awaited funding from the State of Colorado is proving to be the final component needed to launch the construction of a modern new middle school in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Colorado’s Building Excellent Schools Today program has just announced that it is awarding a $13.9 million matching grant to build a new Orchard Mesa Middle School.
That building will replace the existing Orchard Mesa Middle School at 2736 C Road, a one-story, 60,000 square-foot brick structure that was built in the 1950s.
That building, according to district officials, has a series of structural issues, including a leaky roof and outdated HVAC system.
The new school will go up on the south side of the current school site. Upon completion, the older building will be demolished.
The move to put up a new school in Colorado’s School District 51, which encompasses Mesa County, gained momentum last November when district voters approved a bond and mill levy measure to fund the project.
The new two-story 100,000 square-foot school, as designed by the Grand Junction-based Blythe Group, will feature adaptable learning spaces, hallways with seating options, and an auxiliary gym.
Although the structure is being built to accommodate up to 600 students, the design will allow for future facility expansion.
Plans call for work on the new school to begin later this summer, with a December 2019 completion date.
By Garry Boulard
A technological data process that creates a digital description of every aspect of a construction project is seeing a dramatic upturn in use, according to industry sources.
Building Information Modeling, otherwise simply known as BIM, is a process that digitally describes everything going on in a given project’s lifespan, from development to design to construction.
The technology, according to the trade publication Planning & Building Control Today, reduces both mistakes and risks for the simple reason that all information regarding a project can be accessed in one place, allowing for more informed decision-making.
The process has proven cost-effective enough to prompt the United Kingdom to mandate that all public sector construction projects must use BIM technology.
The downside of the technology, note analysts, may come in how it is used.
According to Planning & Building Control Today, even though the implementation of BIM is regarded as one of today’s top construction trends, “its uptake is still somewhat stagnant with many in the industry failing to fully understand and appreciate its full range.”
Even so, New York-based Zion Market Research, in its Building Information Modeling Market report, is predicting a $10.3 billion BIM market in the U.S. in the next four years, up from $3.5 billion in 2016.
By Garry Boulard
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