A master-planned regional rail-served industrial park near Los Lunas may see the construction of 21,000 feet of water pipeline, now that funding has been secured from Washington.
The Economic Development Administration wing of the Commerce Department has awarded a $1.3 million grant to build the pipeline inside the Central New Mexico Rail Park.
That park, opened in late 2016 and geared for companies requiring a rail connection, sits on more than 1,400 acres off of New Mexico Highway 6.
According to the EDA, the grant will fund “critical water infrastructure improvements needed to support business development in the region.”
In a statement, Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of the Commerce Department, noted that the “increased capacity of the local water infrastructure will improve the competitiveness of Los Lunas’s business community.”
The EDA funds the Mid-Region Council of Governments in an effort to combine public and private sector interests with the goal of enhancing regional economic developments like the Central New Mexico Rail Park.
By Garry Boulard
The advent of offsite construction work, partly in response to an ongoing shortage of workers, can be expected to both continue and grow, notes a major industry publication.
Building Design + Construction is predicting that the industry is going to see more of what it calls “manufacturing-based operations,” with select owners demanding prefab work on projects.
Such offsite work is listed as one of the five most important trends in the national construction industry today, a list that also includes a growing infusion of venture capital and strategic funding for construction projects coming from such nontraditional sources as the tech industry.
The magazine is additionally forecasting a greater use of artificial intelligence in the industry, with needed information coming from such sources as cloud-based applications and mobile devices, providing crucial insights into projects.
On that same score, the industry will also see an increased need for data, although the question of who owns and controls that data may prove problematic.
Finally, says Building Design + Construction, “within seven years, the U.S. market will have a ‘smart certified’ designation,” with such projects becoming as prominent as green sustainability buildings are today.
The reason? “Because smart buildings are highly marketable, owner friendly, productivity focused and resource efficient,” says the publication.
By Garry Boulard
An ambitious plan to redevelop at least a segment of Denver’s popular and historic Larimer Square has been put on hold in the wake of opposition from preservationists and community activists.
Earlier this year, the Denver-based Larimer Associates proposed a plan that would see the construction of new affordable housing units, as well as possible condominium space and a hotel, on a block that is known for its 19th century red brick Victorian structures.
The plan specifically called for putting up two new buildings in two separate alleyways bordering the Larimer Square neighborhood.
Those buildings, according to an earlier version of the redevelopment plan, would be at least six stories in height, or two stories taller than the average Larimer Square structure.
The response to the plan, done in conjunction with the Denver-based Urban Villages, has proven mostly negative from area residents and preservationists who say the redevelopment effort would substantially alter Larimer Square’s character.
This spring, noting that Larimer Square was defined as a historic district by the Denver City Council in 1971, the National Trust of Washington listed it as one of the 11 most endangered places in the country.
Taking specific aim at the Larimer Associates/Urban Village plan, the National Trust said the square is currently “threatened by an inappropriate development proposal that calls for partial demolition of several buildings, the potential construction of two towers, and weakening the groundbreaking ordinance that has long protected the famous square.”
The first business neighborhood in Denver, with roots reaching to the late 1800s, Larimer Square was soon also known for its many gambling houses and saloons, before falling into decline by the 1950s and 60s.
The formation of a group called the Larimer Square Associates led to the area’s revival and its subsequent development as a neighborhood of restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses, as well as outdoor community and walking space.
Although a newly-formed Larimer Square Advisory Committee was formed this spring to evaluate the redevelopment proposal, what happens next won’t be known until Larimer Associates and the Urban Village firm present an updated plan.
By Garry Boulard
Several years in the making, a plan to build a new 68-unit senior housing complex in Santa Fe has received the important approval of the city’s Historic Districts Review Board.
To be located on a 2.5-acre site at 401 Old Taos Highway, the project will see the construction of a walkable community that will include more than 200,000 square feet of building space housing offices, a fitness and wellness room, and lobby. The site will also feature two outdoor courtyards.
The scope of the project has been somewhat reduced from its earliest inception calling for the construction of 73 units.
Plans for the site also specify the construction of an underground parking garage with space enough for 16 vehicles.
The complex will be owned and operated by El Castillo, a popular senior living community opened in 1971 and located in downtown Santa Fe at 250 E. Alameda Street.
El Castillo purchased the property, which once served as a community for retired Presbyterian missionaries and pastors, for around $4.2 million last year.
The site was also for decades famous as the home of painting legend Georgia O’Keefe and was the site of the Ghost Ranch Conference Center.
Being handled by the Santa Fe development management firm of Jenkins Gavin, the next step for the roughly $39 million project is a City of Santa Fe Planning Commission review.
Construction on the project could launch sometime next year.
By Garry Boulard
Legislation that could produce more skilled workers for the nation’s construction industry has made its way out of both the House and Senate in Washington.
The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act pushes for an easing of state regulations regarding technical education programs in public schools.
The bill also asks those same schools to develop career and technical education programs specifically designed to respond to the needs of today’s construction and trades industries.
Students completing such courses of study typically receive either a certificate, credential, or degree.
“It’s encouraging to see Congress acting in a bipartisan way to pass a measure that will provide a long-overdue boost to career and technical education in the country,” Stephen Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Association General Contractors of America, said in a statement upon the legislation’s passage in the House.
“For too long we have chosen to push every student to college instead of providing them with essential and valuable skills,” continued Sandherr, adding that the Congressional vote “marks a milestone in rebalancing the nation’s education approach by offering students multiple paths to success.”
An amendment to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education legislation is currently being reviewed in the House. Once that process ends, the bill will be sent to President Trump for his signature.
By Garry Boulard
Responding to growth that has seen its population jump from 48,000 less than a decade ago to nearly 60,000 today, officials with the Mountain View Fire District in Colorado say they hope to build at least three new fire stations in the next several years.
Those stations, in a nearly 200-square mile district roughly 40 miles north of Denver, would be built on sites in towns that have in recent years witnessed unprecedented new home construction.
Members of the fire district’s board of directors are expected to vote soon on whether or not to put on this November’s ballot a question that would raise property taxes in order to fund the new station construction.
If passed, a 16.2 mill levy would be expected to generate just over $5.4 million a year for the district, with work on the first station set to begin next year in the town of Erie; followed by the second facility construction in unincorporated Weld County.
The third station would be built in the town of Mead several years later, with a completion date of sometime in 2027.
Both Erie and Mead have seen significant growth in recent years: Erie’s population has jumped from 6,200 in 2000 to more than 24,200 today; while Mead’s population has doubled from just over 2,000 in that same time period to more than 4,500 today.
If built, the new stations would bring to eleven the number of stations making up the district.
The Mountain View Fire District’s board is expected to make a decision on the ballot question by the end of next month.
By Garry Boulard
Genertec America Incorporated has announced that it is offering the Arrivo Corporation a $1 billion line of credit to help construct a high-speed network that could end up connecting Denver with Boulder on a jaunt lasting 8 minutes.
In making the announcement Yalin Li, the president of Genertec America, said, “Arrivo provides a unique solution for regional mobility and a great complement to high speed rail and airports,” adding, “We look forward to many opportunities to build this new mode of transportation in regions around the world.”
The Genertec/Arrivo partnership in reality means that Arrivo could use the Chinese company’s backing for “financing the first Arrivo system anywhere in the world,” notes Andrew Liu.
But, continues Liu, the co-founder and president of Arrivo, “the proposed network in Denver, Colorado is certainly eligible to receive this funding.”
Launched in 2016 in Los Angeles, Arrivo has generated regional and national attention by emphasizing the potential of high-speed routes designed in their essence to make life easier in metro Denver.
It would uniquely use a highway center lane populated with sleds that will carry vehicles up to 200 miles per hour, a futuristic system that, in turn, could handle up to 20,000 vehicles an hour.
“Arrivo’s system uses a dedicated roadway and variety of pods,” notes reporter Tamara Chung for the Denver Post. “Some hold entire cars, others just freight, while another version acts like a shuttle bus.”
This approach stands in contrast to the blueprint for the Virgin Hyperloop One company, which is touting a system that would whisk riders along a 360-mile route with stops in Cheyenne, Fort Collins, Denver, and Pueblo.
In November, the Colorado Department of Transportation, along with the E-470 Public Highway Authority, announced the formation of a partnership with Arrivo to begin a feasibility study for a leg of a proposed route serving the Denver metro area.
Noting that Arrivo had additionally decided to locate their test facilities in the Centennial State, Governor John Hickenlooper offered the thought that Colorado’s “rapidly growing population and booming economy makes for the ideal location for the development of an Arrivo system.”
Then-CDOT executive director Shailen Bhatt, in a statement, added that his department was “committed to working with Arrivo on the feasibility of how we address mobility in our state.”
That study is now underway, notes Liu, with expectations that it will be completed this fall.
Meanwhile, says Liu, in a parallel move, the CDOT is in the process of developing a statewide benefits study that will evaluate “new technologies, such as Arrivo, and as part of this study they are also developing a framework for implementing new technologies such as Arrivo from a regulatory perspective.”
“The latter is of major benefit to all technology companies developing new transport technology,” says Liu, adding that Colorado’s embrace of its Road X program, tasked with bringing together the state and private industry to address today’s transportation challenges, serves as a “pioneer in regulatory innovation in the United States.”
If made reality, the Arrivo system would see the building of what has been described as a “super-urban” network offering high-speed travel throughout the often traffic-clogged Denver metro area.
The system, transporting both people and cargo, will use magnetic levitation to make its vehicles stay afloat.
Once in operation, the Arrivo system would reduce a 1 hour and 10 minute car ride from downtown Denver to the Denver International Airport to 9 minutes. A current 1 hour and 5 minute journey from downtown Denver to Boulder would take 8 minutes.
The Arrivo approach to high-speed transportation and the Virgin Hyperloop One approach is, to some degree, a difference of nuance.
Both use magnetic levitation technology, notes Liu.
“The primary differentiator between the two is that the Arrivo system takes out the vacuum because we are developing technology for a regional transportation network, as opposed to a long distance city to city connector, and thus do not need the level of speeds that require a vacuum.”
By removing the vacuum ingredient, continues Liu, “we have a system that is significantly cheaper to build, easier to maintain, quicker to load and unload, and most importantly superior from a safety perspective as people are able to walk outside of the vehicle in an emergency evacuation scenario.”
The future of Arrivo’s proposed system for metro Denver will ultimately come down to numbers. If the costs to build the system, as revealed by the feasibility study, are within the expectations of both Arrivo and the CDOT, work could begin on an initial leg of the network early next year.
Meanwhile, says Liu, Arrivo, with its headquarters in Los Angeles, has become emphatically bullish on Denver.
Hailing the CDOT and Denver’s Regional Transportation District as “forward thinking,” Liu says a matrix of components, including the city’s high rate of growth and the inevitable congestion issues that come along with that, makes the Denver region “a great first market for our company in the U.S.”
By Garry Boulard
The Clayton Municipal Airport, located two miles southeast of downtown Clayton, is receiving the largest federal grant sent to New Mexico this summer for the rehabilitation of a runway and miscellaneous navigational aid work from the Department of Transportation.
That money is coming through the department’s Federal Aviation Administration, and is just a part of the more than $23 million in grants that agency is awarding for various airport projects across New Mexico.
Among the other recipients of FAA funding this year is the Clovis Municipal Airport, receiving more than $4.3 million to both reconstruct nearly 20,000 square feet of commercial service apron and rehabilitate some 5,700 feet of runway; and the Albuquerque International Sunport, which is getting more than $4.2 million in grants for the reconstruction of a taxiway.
The Double Eagle II Airport in Albuquerque is receiving $2.6 million for the reconstruction of several taxiways.
All of the other awards range in size between $25,000 and $1.1 million, funding new lighting projects, drainage improvements, and the installation of new perimeter fences, among other projects.
In a statement, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall said the Air Improvement Program grants “enable our airports to update critical infrastructure, expand in capacity, and ensure that New Mexico remains a hub for visitors and business travelers alike.”
Altogether, more than $3.8 billion in Airport Improvement Program funding is being funded through the FAA for some 664 airport facility improvement projects nationwide.
New Mexico airports and airports across the country are eligible for Air Improvement Program grants, depending upon a combination of their capital project needs and activity levels.
By Garry Boulard
Although plans announced in early 2017 regarding the upkeep and funding of the nation’s transportation infrastructure have so far gone nowhere, a new Congressional proposal directly addresses the controversial issue of raising fuel taxes for such projects.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster is calling for increasing the federal gasoline and diesel tax by 15 cents per gallon and 20 cents per gallon, respectively.
Those increases, according to Shuster’s plan, would be phased in over a three-year period, and would positively impact what the Congressional Budget Office says is a current $50 billion need in annual highway improvements, along with an ongoing maintenance funding gap of $14 billion.
If passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, Shuster’s plan would both keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, while also creating a Highway Trust Fund Commission whose mission would be to conduct a comprehensive study of the current condition of the nation’s highways.
The results of that report, by the requirements of Shuster’s proposal, would be submitted to Congress no later than January of 2021.
In a statement, Shuster said his plan at this point “does not represent a complete and final infrastructure bill.”
The plan instead, the Pennsylvania Congressman continud, is meant to “reignite discussions amongst my colleagues.”
Analysts say the outlook for any kind of comprehensive infrastructure legislation is doubtful before the November mid-term elections.
Legislation calling for an increase in the nation’s fuel taxes, which have been the same since 1993, have also previously met with resistance on Capitol Hill.
By Garry Boulard
On a tree-lined Denver street, populated with multi-story apartment buildings, plans are underway for the construction of a new 249-unit condominium project.
The 12-story building is being developed by the Denver-based Nava Real Estate Development under the name of Nava Uptown LLC, and will go up on a 1.0-acre site at 575 East 20th Avenue.
The project is only the latest development responding to a pent-up demand for new condominium space in metro Denver.
Purchased from the Denver Housing Authority for $7.1 million by Nava, the site is currently vacant, but will see work beginning on the condo project next year.
Originally proposed last year, in a site development plan submitted to the City of Denver for only 188 units, the new development will feature efficiency units, as well as one, two, and three- bedroom units.
The modern, glass-walled project is being designed by the Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects. In a statement, David Daniel, a principal at Davis Partners, called the development a “pioneer condominium project in the heart of our city,” and lauded Nava’s dedication to “quality in the built environment.”
The project will be built for WELL Building Standards, which mandates health and wellness features in building design and construction.
The new East 20th Avenue project comes along as the average price for condominium units, according to the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, has reached the $300,000 mark.
By Garry Boulard
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