In a city where the average price of a home is now just over $311,000, compared to a national average of $219,000, a new initiative has been announced to increase the local affordable housing stock through the upgrading of existing properties.
The resulting units will be geared for people living at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which for a household of four in Aurora means no more than $74,000 annually.
Aurora has announced that it is partnering with a group called the Elevation Community Land Trust, which is based in Denver and dedicated to expanding affordable housing options.
In a statement, Stefka Fanchi, chief executive officer of the Elevation Community Land Trust, said that through the partnership “we will put homeownership within reach for more families and help create healthy, stable, inclusive neighborhoods in Aurora for today and tomorrow so that our families can earn the equity and opportunity that ownership provides.”
As planned, the joint effort will see the Elevation Community Land Trust in the next five years purchasing properties in Aurora that will then be remodeled and updated for qualifying residents.
The properties are expected to include everything from single-family homes to condominiums and townhomes.
The program will also help would-be homeowners with pre-purchasing counseling and home maintenance know-how, among other services.
Aurora Mayor Bob LeGare, who has frequently expressed his determination to expand affordable housing options in the city, said the partnership with the Elevation Community Land Trust could provide a model that may be duplicated across the region.
By Garry Boulard
An ad campaign targeting members of Congress and pushing for increased infrastructure spending has been jointly launched by the Americans for Transportation Mobility and the Transportation Construction Coalition.
The two groups have announced that they will particularly aim for the Twitter followers of the members of two legislative committees with messages that in part read: “Our national transportation infrastructure is severely underfunded, which is crippling our economy and endangering lives.”
Those messages would go to the members and staff of the House Ways & Means Committee, as well as the Senate Finance Committee, both of which are tasked with ultimately approving increased funding for federal infrastructure projects.
The Twitter messages from the two groups will direct recipients to a recent ad on the site Politico emphasizing the importance of maintaining a functioning Highway Trust Fund to pay for current and future infrastructure projects.
Those projects, according to the Politico piece, “will facilitate long-term regional and national economic growth while creating new jobs.”
The effort comes just two weeks after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement calling for an increase in the federal gasoline tax in order to provide money for the Highway Trust Fund. That statement, in part, said: “Democrats and Republicans in blue, red, and purple states across the country have already taken this action, increasing their state gas taxes to finance their share of much-needed infrastructure improvement.”
The Americans for Transportation Mobility is operated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while the Washington-based Transportation Construction Coalition is comprised of a number of construction unions and various related trade associations.
By Garry Boulard
A now-vacant site in northeast Albuquerque that was once the home to a Kmart store may be transformed into a new and thriving shopping center space.
Located at the intersection of Carlisle Boulevard and Interstate 40, the outlet, which was originally opened in the mid-1960s, went out of business last year as part of a national round of more than sixty Kmart closures.
Now the Albuquerque-based Modulus Architects has unveiled a plan calling for the demolition of the former K-mart facility and the design and construction of a 45,000 square foot grocery store in its place.
The plan also details space for a handful of other retailers, with additional buildings at the 10-acre site used as a brewpub or coffee shop, among other purposes.
The project will be subject to the City of Albuquerque’s unique Integrated Development Ordinance, which was adopted in 2017 and governs land development projects within the city’s borders.
For the most part of the last year, neighbors have expressed concerns about the abandoned property, whose official address is 2100 Carlisle Boulevard
The plan for the big site redevelopment has already been the subject of at least one public meeting, and still needs to be reviewed by the city before any work can actually begin.
Modulus Architects specializes in large retail shopping center projects throughout New Mexico.
By Garry Boulard
One of the most popular ski resorts in Arizona is planning for a major upgrading of its structural facilities as well as the construction of new trails and lifts.
The Flagstaff-based Arizona Snowbowl said the work, which most likely won’t begin until 2021, will take around $60 million to fully complete.
The plans, still to be reviewed and subsequently approved by the U.S. Forest Service, also include the construction of a climbing wall as well as a mountain coaster and space for outdoor concerts.
Animating the upgrade plan is the goal of significantly expanding the number of guests that the resort can accommodate, a number that Arizona Snowbowl officials would like to see increased from the current 3,800 guests to around 4,500.
In a statement, Snowbowl’s general manager, J.R. Murray, noted that it is “not uncommon for guests to experience long food lines, a lack of seating in the lodges and insufficient restrooms.”
Because of the sweeping and multi-faceted nature of the resort’s upgrades, it is thought that it will take as long as 15 years for the entire project to be completed.
Arizona Snowbowl is owned by the Durango-based Mountain Capital Partners, which also runs similar resorts in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. In the last few years, the company has taken on more than $40 million in capital improvement projects at its various properties.
By Garry Boulard
Federal funds that can be used for the local construction of schools and roads will soon be coming out of Washington.
The Department of the Interior has announced that it is releasing Payments in Lieu of Taxes funding equal to nearly $515 million.
Those payments are annually sent to local governments across the country to make up for the lost revenue they endure by not being able to tax federal property existing in their communities.
“These payments are one example of the United States striving to be a good neighbor to local communities,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in a statement announcing the payments.
Bernhardt noted that this year those payments will be sent to more than 1,900 individual counties and will fund everything from emergency response programs to “public safety, public schools, housing, social services, and infrastructure.”
The payments are particularly important for counties in the Western states where vast stretches of land are owned by the federal government.
The payment program, which began under President Jimmy Carter, is based on a county’s population and the overall number of acres owned by Washington in that county.
Getting the money to Washington has never been an issue: on an annual basis, the Department of the Interior collects nearly $12 billion in revenue from any commercial activity on land that it and several other federal agencies own in any given county.
Such activity typically includes oil and gas exploration and timber harvesting.
This year Arizona will receive just over $38.7 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes funding. Colorado is set to get $39.9 million, while New Mexico is slated for $40.2 million.
By Garry Boulard
Two older commercial buildings and three single-family homes running along Santa Fe Drive in Denver may soon be demolished in order to make way for a new ambitious condominium project.
The First Stone Development company of Denver is proposing to build a single, five-story structure that will house up to 117 individual condominium units.
The proposal comes as Colorado is witnessing a dramatic increase in condominium construction across the state due to a new state law making it more difficult to sue the developers of such spaces for structural defects.
The new Denver project will go up in the 600 block of Santa Fe Drive and will also include roughly 11,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
The condominiums themselves will be both efficiency apartment size, as well as one and two-bedroom units. Also planned: two penthouse units that will come with their own rooftop space.
In total, the new structure is expected to measure around 11,000 square feet.
The owner of First Stone Development, Lenny Taub, purchased the just-over one-acre Santa Fe Drive site in the spring of 2018 for $2.6 million.
Plans for the project are still awaiting city approval.
Denver’s Lincoln Park area, some two miles to the south of downtown Denver, comprises one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in the city, with homes dating to the mid-19th century.
By Garry Boulard
Public officials in the village of Santa Clara are looking into possible funding sources for the upgrading of several buildings on the campus of Fort Bayard in southwest New Mexico.
Both Santa Clara leaders and State of New Mexico officials have announced an agreement allowing the village to lease six buildings on the historic campus, with the idea of eventually seeing those buildings restored.
Exactly where the money to fund the restoration project will come from is currently unknown, although it was earlier reported that Santa Clara plans to pursue both state and federal support.
An earlier study undertaken by Santa Clara indicated that it could cost as much as $7 million to bring the buildings in question up to date.
Santa Clara leaders have been trying for the better part of a decade to enter into a lease arrangement with the state, which is the owner of the Fort Bayard property, with the idea that updated structures at the site could prove a tourist attraction.
Built one year after the end of the Civil War in 1866, Fort Bayard was originally the home to the Buffalo Soldiers, an African-American Army unit.
In 1922, the fort was taken over by the federal Veterans Administration and was transformed into a primary veterans care complex. In 2004 the entire site was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark District.
By Garry Boulard
us house of representatives approves $383 billion spending package, with money intact for military construction projects
A package of five big spending bills with a cumulative worth of over $383 billion have won passage in the U.S House of Representatives on a 227 to 194 vote.
The legislation includes money for military construction, as well as transportation, housing and urban development, the environment, and veterans affairs.
More specifically, more than $100 billion in the legislation is set for military construction and veterans affairs projects, with some $140 million specifically targeting base residential facility upgrades across the country.
In a statement, New York Representative Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the budget bill invests “billions in America’s infrastructure, strengthens and modernizes public housing, and delivers the promise of broadband to rural communities.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate, where Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he is hoping that senators, along with the House and the Trump Administration, will be able to come to some agreement regarding spending caps in this year’s budget.
The bill will also subjected in the next two months to conference committee negotiations between the two chambers.
By Garry Boulard
A site that is currently a 155-acre golf course in northeast Denver may be redeveloped as a mix-use project with both residential and retail space.
The Denver-based Clayton Early Learning, which provides childhood education programs for disadvantaged youth and owns the popular Park Hill Golf Course, has announced that it may sell that course to a local developer later this summer.
Opened in 1931, the course, located between Smith Road and 35th, makes up one of the last large swaths of open land within the city boundaries of Denver, and for that reason is highly valued by both golfers and nearby neighbors alike.
According to reports, the course may be purchased by the Denver-based Westside Investments LLC, which is currently involved in the planning stage of another project that has sparked widespread Denver interest: the transformation of the former Loretto Heights College, which sits on 72 acres.
Although Westside has not said what it exactly it would like to do with the 18-hole Park Hill Golf Course property, the idea that the site could be opened up for development has alarmed some residents.
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb recently remarked that he would be willing to spearhead an effort to stop the project, emphasizing the decline of open space throughout the city.
The possible golf course sale has also prompted the Denver Post to suggest that the City of Denver should step in and purchase the land, maintaining: “Our elected officials must not lose track of the ultimate goal—to vastly increase open space by acquiring one of the last remaining parcels of land available for such an endeavor.”
Impediments to building anything on the course could also come in the form of a conservation easement that Clayton Early Learning and the City of Denver agreed to two decades ago, imposing development restrictions on the land.
City officials have additionally noted that any proposed redevelopment of the Park Hill course, which would require a rezoning of the site, would have to first be approved by the Denver City Council.
The former site of a dairy farm, the Park Hill Golf Course has more than one hundred trees, and includes a 9,000 square foot indoor practice facility as well as a clubhouse.
By Garry Boulard
The City of Phoenix is expected to issue a Request for Proposals later this summer for the construction of a new downtown mixed-use project.
That project would go up off Seventh Avenue, between Grand Avenue and Polk Street, and could include housing, commercial, and restaurant space.
According to reports, nearly a third of the residential space for the new project would be dedicated to affordable or workforce housing.
Another segment of the project measuring around 30,000 square feet will go for veterans community support services. That’s because, if the project becomes reality, an existing one-story American Legion Post will have to first be demolished.
Officials with the Luke-Greenway American Legion Post 1 have indicated their willingness to work with the city on both the demolition of the facility, as well as the construction of the new housing development.
Before any action can be taken regarding the new project, members of the Phoenix City Council must first vote on demolishing the nearly 100 year-old American Legion building.
That vote is expected to be taken later this month.
By Garry Boulard
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