A possible break in a nearly two-year long impasse regarding the construction of a new $180 million multi-purpose performing arts center in downtown El Paso may be in the offing.
The City of El Paso, in response to a public communication from oil industry leader and investor J.P. Bryan, has said it is willing to consider incorporating an historic firehouse that is a part of the Duranguito neighborhood as part of the overall center site development.
That building was designed by architect Henry Trost in the early 1930s and is considered to be historically significant.
Construction of what is officially called the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center has been delayed by a series of lawsuits waged by community activists opposed to the Duranguito area being demolished in order to make way for the new facility.
Earlier this year the Third Court of Appeals issued a preliminary ruling prohibiting El Paso from demolishing any buildings in Duranguito.
Bryan, who has criticized building the new center in Duranguito, has helped to fund the legal efforts trying to stop the project.
On May 23 he suggested that the City of El Paso should spend $35 million renovating the existing Abraham Chavez Theater and preserving the Duranguito area as a historic district, with the buildings there being preserved and used for both private and non-profit uses.
Although the city responded by saying that that idea was not financially viable due to the “condition of the buildings in the area,” it did say that it would be willing to incorporate the Trost Fire House into the site for the new multipurpose center.
By Garry Boulard
According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder and developer confidence in the national multifamily market decreased for the first time in nearly a decade during the first three months of this year.
As reported by the group’s Multifamily Market Survey, which measures market condition sentiment, the industry’s confidence level dropped to its lowest point since the late summer of 2010.
The NAHB’s Multifamily Production Index uses a scale of zero to 100, with anything above 50 showing a positive outlook and anything below 50 indicating pessimism regarding current market conditions.
In the first quarter 2019 survey, the number, after a high of 61 in the spring of 2013, dropped to 40.
Despite those numbers, Robert Diaz, chief economist at the NAHB, noted that “permit growth is occurring, and production should level off moving forward.”
In a statement, Diaz added that the current national building market continues to be “dominated by rental production, with a 94 percent share at the start of 2019.”
By Garry Boulard
Tapping into an increasing demand for new rental housing in the growing Phoenix metro area, a residential investment company has announced that it wants to build two new projects in the city with a cumulative total of 534 units.
The largest of the projects to be developed by the Vancouver-based IDM Companies will see the construction of 352 apartments in the city of Goodyear.
That project is being called the IDM Estrella Parkway, near the intersection of Interstate 10 and Estrella Parkway, and will include two pools, a fitness center, office, and resident community space.
IDM purchased the nearly 15-acre site late last year for some $3.8 million.
The second project is slated for the town of Gilbert and will see the construction of the IDM Cooley Station, near the intersection of Williams Field Road and Recker Road with 182 units. That project will include a single pool, as well as fitness center, office, and community space.
IDM, which stands for “invest, develop and manage,” was founded in 1993 and has handled upscale residential projects primarily in Oregon and Washington.
The company just recently secured slightly more than $54 million through Pacific Coast Capital Partners, an investment management firm with offices in Los Angeles, among other cities, to launch the Goodyear and Gilbert projects.
PCCP provided the IDM Companies with $34.1 million for the construction of the Goodyear project, and $20.1 million for the Gilbert complex.
Goodyear’s population is up from around 19,000 two decades ago to just under 80,000 today. Gilbert’s population, at the same time, has more than doubled from nearly 110,000 to 242,000.
By Garry Boulard
A project that will see the construction of yet the newest Wendy’s hamburger chain outlet in New Mexico may soon be going up in Los Alamos.
The company currently has just over 40 restaurants in New Mexico.
Members of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission have given their unanimous approval to the project, which would go up at 1247 Trinity Drive near the corner of Knecht Street.
The site was formerly the home to a McDonald’s restaurant, which went out of business two years ago. That structure, as part of the new project, will be demolished.
According to Los Alamos County documents, the new restaurant will measure around 2,100 square feet, and will include a drive-through window as well as a covered outdoor seating area.
The developers also plan to plant up to 14 trees and fifty shrubs as part of the site’s landscaping.
The new restaurant, designed by the Albuquerque-based Modulus Architects, must still win the approval of the Los Alamos County Council.
Once that approval has been secured, construction could begin by mid or late summer.
Last year the Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy’s announced the goal of having 7,250 restaurants in North America by the year 2020.
The company currently has up and running nearly 6,800 locations ranging in size from 2,200 square feet to 3,000 square feet.
By Garry Boulard
Of the top fifteen fastest-growing cities in the U.S. today, twelve are in the West, according to the most recent statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Number one on the list was Phoenix, which has seen an increase of nearly 25,300 people in the year between July 2017 and July 2018 for a total population of 1.6 million.
Coming in number nine on the list is Denver, which added just over 11,000 more people during that same year, for a total population of 716,000.
The report also indicates strong Western growth in the nation’s housing stock, which overall increased by around 1.2 million units between 2017 and 2018 for a current total of more than 138 million housing units.
Utah registered as the fastest-growing state in the country with a 2.2 percent increase between 2017 and 2018, followed by Idaho at 1.9 percent, and Colorado and Texas, both with increases of 1.6 percent.
Crunching the latest Census figures, Forbes magazine noted that Phoenix attained its number one growth slot due to the “promise of good jobs and good pay” which has “attracted a diverse group of skilled professionals primarily 25 to 45 years old, many of whom are from other states or countries.”
Notes the Phoenix Business Journal: “With the influx of new people, the residential real estate market around Phoenix also has seen healthy activity, though apartment rents and home prices have surged, putting a strain on the area’s longstanding reputation as an affordable place to live.”
The publication added that, like many other cities in the West experiencing historic growth, Phoenix is increasingly seeing more homebuilders “pivot toward more affordable options.”
By Garry Boulard
A large commercial site that has been mostly sitting empty for nearly a decade in west Louisville, Colorado may soon be partially redeveloped as a church.
The retail chain Sam’s Club closed down its 125,000 square foot outlet at 550 S. McCaslin Boulevard during the depths of the Great Recession in early 2010.
Now the Louisville-based Ascent Community Church has announced plans to purchase the property, transforming half of the building space into a church, with the rest of the structure to be used in a partnership for restaurant and retail development.
The church has previously rented out space in the one-time store for services.
The youth-oriented Ascent Community Church is one of the region’s fastest-growing churches with as many as 1,500 worshippers attending services weekly at two separate locations.
The McCaslin Boulevard structure was built in 1999 and is part of a larger 13-acre parcel.
Although the purchase price for the building has not been publicly disclosed, the structure was earlier listed for around $9 million.
By Garry Boulard
Even in the 1960s when its population stood at just over 10,000 people, the city of Scottsdale in southern Arizona prided itself on offering a variety of recreational amenities carved out of the middle of the desert that included tennis courts, swimming pools, and golf courses.
Now, with more than 250,000 people and growing, the city is looking at not just maintaining its recreational offerings, but adding onto existing outlets, as well as building entirely new facilities.
To that end, Scottsdale voters in November will decide on whether or not to approve a $112 million bond designed to fund half a dozen long-anticipated recreational projects.
The biggest portion of the bond, at $40 million, is slated for the construction of several multi-use sports fields in the area of Bell Road on the north side of the city.
Some $31 million will fund construction of new pools and a replacement building at the Cactus Aquatic & Fitness Center at 7202 E. Cactus Road.
Another $4.6 million is slated to build a new dog park at the 29-acre Thompson Peak Park at 20199 N. 78th Place, also in northern Scottsdale.
The Indian School Park, on the east side of the city, and the Scottsdale Ranch Park and Tennis Center, in northeast Scottsdale, will receive a combined $3.4 million for the tennis court surface replacement work; while the McCormick-Stillman Road Park in northwest Scottsdale will get $917,000 in funding for improved walkways and the building of a new splash pad.
Another pool project will see the $560,000 installation of a solar heating system at the Eldorado Aquatic and Fitness Center at 2301 N. Miller Road.
And, finally, the popular 150-acre Pinnacle Peak Park at 26802 N. 102nd Way, well known for its hiking trails and rock climbing routes, will get $5 million in funding for additional land expansion, new offices and restrooms, and the building of an interpretive trail.
Although the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the bond proposal, previous ballot bonds in the city have met an uneven reception, with voters rejecting a similar bond in 2013, but approving two of six bond proposals in 2015.
By Garry Boulard
Just under 70 percent of responding highway contractors in a new survey report that their work sites have seen motor vehicle accidents and crashes in the last year.
The report, issued by the Washington-based Associated General Contractors of America, also notes that those crashes overwhelmingly resulted in injuries to drivers and/or passengers, while 28 percent saw site worker injuries, with 8 percent reporting fatalities.
“There are simply too many cars crashing into too many work zones, putting too many lives at risk,” said AGS spokesman Brian Turmail in a statement regarding the report.
Turmail noted that for that reason the association is launching a “nationwide outreach effort designed to better educate motorists about the need to drive with care in highway work zones.”
Nearly 400 contractors participated in the survey, which was conducted earlier this spring.
Contractors’ responses in just one state, Iowa, appeared fairly typical with 50 percent reporting highway workplace motor vehicle crashes ranging in number from one to five or more.
The survey also showed that 63 percent of those respondents said that such accidents resulted in injuries to anywhere from one to five or more drivers or passengers.
Some 86 percent of respondents said they thought a greater police presence at such work zone construction sites would serve to reduce the number of crashes and accidents; while another 73 percent were in favor of closing roads where work projects are taking place or detouring traffic.
The AGC said its public awareness campaign regarding highway work sites accidents will include radio and other media spots, as well as increased work with both local and state departments of transportation to “ensure adequate highway work zone protections are in place.”
By Garry Boulard
A small bridge in Roswell, partly made of stone, is slated for replacement thanks to capital outlay funding approved this spring by the New Mexico State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The bridge, which was built during the Great Depression, is located in a residential area off of S. Lea Avenue near the intersection of West Deming Street.
Lawmakers approved $800,000 for a project that will see the old bridge demolished, and a wider new one built with guardrails and sidewalks to replace it.
Roswell will also be seeing the installation of new water valves on one of the city’s main water lines, near the vicinity of S. Main and Poe streets, a project securing $750,000 in state funding.
Another $516,000 is going for improvements to the General Douglas McBride Veterans’ Cemetery, which was established in 2014 inside the city’s larger historic South Park Cemetery at 3101 S. Main Street.
A final $450,000 will pay for the construction of a new splash pad as well as additional benches and new safety equipment in the Daniel E. Carpenter Park at 1631 S. Main Street.
By Garry Boulard
Officials with the Trump Administration have announced plans to appeal an order issued by a U.S. District Court in San Francisco preventing the usage of Defense Department funding in the building of a section of a border between the U.S. and Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam issued a ruling contending that the Trump Administration was in the wrong to use Department of Defense money for the project, contrary to the wishes of Congress.
“Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures—even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important—is not a bug in our constitutional system,” wrote Gilliam in his order.
“It’s a feature of that system, and an essential one,” the Judge continued.
The wall work, in particular, pertains to two separate projects: one spanning around 5 miles in Yuma, Arizona; and the second running 47 miles in New Mexico.
When an earlier Administration proposal for funding the two projects went nowhere in Congress, Trump announced he would use already-approved Defense Department funding for the work.
The funding appropriated by the Administration included $600 million from the Department of the Treasury’s asset forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s counterdrug activities; and $3.6 billion that had earlier been pegged for military construction projects.
Gilliam did not rule on the $3.6 billion amount because the Trump Administration has not yet said how it wanted to use that money.
While opponents of the wall project hailed Gilliam’s decision, the ruling may not be permanent for the simple reason that the District Court was looking at whether the Defense and Treasury department funds could be used while lawsuits filed by a host of state attorneys general and the American Civil Liberties Union are still being considered.
In a statement, the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit to stop the funding of the two projects on behalf of the San Diego-based Southern Border Communities Coalition and the Sierra Club, called Gilliam’s ruling a “win for our system of checks and balances, the rule of law, and border communities.”
Trump described the ruling as being “against border security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking.” The President additionally promised to file what he called “an expedited appeal” of Gilliam’s order.
By Garry Boulard
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