A 272-acre park that is still being developed in the town of Gilbert, Arizona may eventually be the site of a new hotel or resort.
In issuing a Request for Qualifications, the town specifically said it would like to see developed on some 10 acres of the Gilbert Regional Park a project that “would broaden and diversify the economic base within the community.”
The invitation is also asking for a respondent with a “proven record and exemplary reputation for working with a government entity in executing similar successful development projects.”
The Gilbert Regional Park, located on the south side of town at the intersection of Queen Creek Road and Higley Road, was launched after months of public input and is slated to see the construction of such recreational amenities as tennis courts, and volleyball, basketball, and pickle ball space.
A 25-acre water park called The Strand @ Gilbert - with lagoon, cabanas, and a sand beach, among other features - is currently in development at the park and expected to open next summer.
The Request for Qualification also suggests that the 10 acres in question could be used for complementary retail and conference center space.
Deadline for the RFQ is September 4.
By Garry Boulard
A new bill addressing both the nation’s road and bridge needs, as well as how to pay for such infrastructure projects, is winning praise in Washington.
Introduced by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso and Delaware Senator Tom Carper, the legislation, officially called America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, calls for $287 million in funding for a wide variety of infrastructure work.
That $287 million would come out of the existing Highway Trust Fund, with $259 million of that amount going directly to the states as part of a spending formula.
The bill also calls for $1 billion in grants for the construction of electric, natural gas, and hydrogen fueling stations.
Addressing the complaints of many in the construction industry, the bill additionally proposes speeding up the federal review and permitting process for new transportation projects, requiring a single document for environmental review, and decisions to be signed by all of the participating agencies.
On the issue of bridges, the bill states: “Every state with a well-justified proposal will receive funding to improve the condition and safety of its aging bridges.”
Noting that state governments often find it difficult to pay for expensive bridge repair projects, the bill says that federal funding will be particularly available for projects valued at more than $100 million.
The legislation, the largest of its kind in history, has so far won the support from a variety of groups, some of whom note that initial bi-partisan backing of the bill could signal its eventual success.
The Environmental Defense Fund has praised the legislation for promoting electric vehicle infrastructure, while the Associated General Contractors of America, in a statement, said the bill includes “many thoughtful improvements to surface transportation policy that evolve a 20th century program into something more appropriate for today’s transportation needs.”
Both President Trump and Democrat Congressional leaders have also signaled their support.
Approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the legislation is now on its way to the full Senate for review.
By Garry Boulard
The Lovelace Medical Group has announced plans to build an expansion to an existing two-story clinic it operates in north Albuquerque.
That clinic is located at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Osuna Road NE in what is called Independence Square, and was itself opened just over two years ago.
According to Lovelace officials, the expansion will measure just over 26,300 square feet, adding to an existing facility footprint of 43,200 square feet.
The new space will particularly provide more room for primary care operations.
Upon completion in 2017, the initial Lovelace structure was praised for its built-in energy efficiency features, including LED fixtures, occupancy sensors, and an energy recovery water source heat pump system.
The Lovelace Medical Group currently operates nearly a dozen medical facilities in central and northern New Mexico.
The developer for the Independence Square site is the Albuquerque-based Argus Investment Realty, a firm specializing in medical real estate projects.
By Garry Boulard
Work is slated to begin early next summer on the long-anticipated final renovation of the University of New Mexico’s chemistry building, located on the school’s main Albuquerque campus.
The $16 million work on the north portion of the Clark Hall facility should take about a year, with the project expected to wrap in time for the fall 2021 semester.
The design phase of the project is expected to be completed by next May, with work launching the following month.
Altogether, the project will see more than 38,100 square feet of facility space renovated, with classrooms, support spaces, offices, and research laboratories upgraded.
UNM officials have for years maintained that unless the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology could showcase the latest in facility offerings, it would be at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting quality students and faculty.
Those same officials have additionally pointed out that Clark Hall, built in the early 1950s, still had intact the original wiring system from those years.
First phase renovation work on building began in the fall of 2014 and was funded by some $16 million in voter-approved general obligation bonds.
That work included bathroom renovations, bringing those spaces up to Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and the upgrading of the building’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
Clark Hall was designed by well-known New Mexico architect John Gaw Meem and cost $489,000 to build. It was added onto in the mid-1960s.
The second phase renovation work is being funded by additional general obligation bonds passed in the fall of 2018.
By Garry Boulard
Even as lawmakers in Washington debate and consider increased funding for transportation infrastructure projects, construction is increasing on highway projects across the country.
According to a new report released by the Nashville-based Thompson Research Group, lettings for highway construction contracts in some 15 states showed a healthy 13 percent increase during the second quarter of this year over that same time period in 2018.
The report notes a massive 115 percent increase in Colorado this spring, followed by a 69 percent increase in Maryland, and jumps of 43 percent and 36 percent respectively in Iowa and Texas.
Also showing double-digit increase in highway work is Arizona, with lettings up by 21 percent this spring over last spring.
Looking forward, the Thompson Research Group report predicts: “We believe the momentum is only in the beginning phase.”
Noting highway construction plans well along in the pipeline in a handful of other states, the report sees “a busy construction season in 2019.”
Texas is particularly set to launch a new phase of big highway construction, adds the report, particularly with a $1.7 billion highway expansion project outside of Dallas.
By Garry Boulard
A new public housing complex with 120 apartments will soon see construction on the growing northeast side of El Paso.
What is being called the Patriot Place Apartments will be built at 9500 Kenworthy Street, roughly 11 miles to the northeast of downtown El Paso.
The complex, which will belong to the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, will comprise a series of two-story structures surrounding a community and play space area.
Set to go up half a mile to the south of the Transmountain campus of El Paso Community College, the project will also include biking trails and hiking paths.
A green light for the project was signaled with the awarding by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs of $20 million in tax credits designed to spur construction of the complex.
In a statement, Gerald Cichon, chief executive officer of the housing authority, said the agency was committed to investing millions of dollars in “areas that will offer our families and children easier access to new opportunities, high-wage jobs, good schools, and services.”
The Patriot Place Apartments project represents an increasingly popular model in public housing, breaking with the old pattern of separating such complexes from the neighborhoods that surround them.
Instead, the complex’s design calls for it to be integrated with the immediate neighborhood, providing residents with access to area stores and public transportation routes.
The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso oversees more than 6,100 residential units, providing housing for more than 40,000 people. It is the largest public housing authority in Texas.
By Garry Boulard
Feeding off the busy commuter rail Westminster Station, a development group in Colorado has announced plans for a massive 27-acre mixed-use project.
The Louisville, Colorado-based Land Capital LLC has purchased for $8.4 million those acres adjacent to the Regional Transportation District facility in order to bring the project to life.
According to plans, the site could see the construction of a combination of townhomes, condominiums, and some apartment space, combined with a park and swimming pool.
The proposed project, at the intersection of 72nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard, is officially classified as a transit-oriented development due to its proximity to the Westminster Station.
That station, opened in the summer of 2016, serves as a hub for the city of Westminster, connected by rail to Denver’s Union Station.
In the last few years, more than $75 million in public dollars has been spent building the surrounding Westminster Station Park, complete with trail connections, play areas, and restrooms.
The $28 million mixed-income Alto at Westminster housing complex, a 70-unit residential project located two blocks from the station, was opened last year.
By Garry Boulard
The nation’s affordable housing crisis can be significantly reduced with the Congressional passage of a one-time housing bill authorizing big funding for public housing construction.
So says a report just issued by the Washington-based National League of Cities called Homeward Bound: The Road to Affordable Housing.
Drawing upon the insights of public officials and housing experts at the federal, state, and local level, the report additionally recommends a greater dialogue at the local level with nearby residents who may be opposed to a housing project well before its development.
In a statement, Muriel Bowser, noting both an ongoing decline in affordable housing options across the country and the aging stock of current public housing, said: “The time is now for local leaders and the federal government to make bold investments that will ensure our residents have access to a safe and stable home.”
Bowser is the chairperson of the National League of Cities’ housing taskforce and the Mayor of Washington, D.C.
All-inclusive federal legislation, continues the report, should also entail a local housing trust fund, rental subsidies, and some rent control.
Cities and municipalities involved in annexation projects should additionally be required in those efforts to commit to a certain percentage of affordable housing space, as well as such community amenities as parks and grocery stores.
The report additionally recommends fixing “inequities in housing development and the housing finance system,” while also supporting “scalable innovation and financing for cities, towns, and villages.”
Recognizing the resistance to such large-scale federal spending programs, the report pointedly recommends that a sweeping Congressional housing bill should also have a 10-year lifespan.
The report further recommends that $30 billion in emergency funding be spent “to address the immediate crisis.”
Of that amount, $15 billion would go for a public housing capital program, and $5 billion each for the Community Development Block Grant program, the National Housing Trust Fund, and the federal Home Investment Partnership Program.
By Garry Boulard
A growing gym and fitness club with locations in Albuquerque and Farmington has announced ambitious plans to build out space in Rio Rancho for two new outlets.
Defined Fitness, which was founded in 1988 and currently has around 180,000 square feet of facility space, will repurpose a former K-Mart store in Rio Rancho’s Hilltop Plaza.
That store, at 1640 New Mexico State Road 528, has been empty for around five years since K-Mart left the site as part of an early round of location closures nationally.
Work reconverting the space is expected to begin by this Fall with an anticipated opening set for some time next year.
The second Defined Fitness space in Rio Rancho will see work beginning in the upscale Enchanted Hills neighborhood at 4400 Jager Drive. The company hopes to open that location in early 2020.
Both new outlets will measure around 40,000 square feet and will include indoor and outdoor training space, recovery rooms, and space for such activities as boxing, power lifting, and the martial arts.
Responding to a continually growing market, Defined Fitness is also currently building new space in Santa Fe and at Central and Unser Boulevard in Albuquerque.
According to the website IbisWorld, gym and fitness clubs nationally currently comprise a $36 billion industry, enjoying an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent.
By Garry Boulard
A new report issued by the Atlanta-based Home Depot indicates that the company is well on its way to reducing carbon emissions by 20 percent in its nearly 2,300 locations.
The company’s 2019 Responsibility Report also indicates that the largest home improvement retailer in the world decreased its carbon dioxide intensity by 6 percent per every dollar of product sold.
In a statement regarding the report, Ron Jarvis, Home Depot vice president for environmental innovation, said the new report “showcases outstanding examples of our core values—how we work together to create a business that’s inclusive, ethical, and sustainable.”
Jarvis added that the company will continue to “challenge ourselves to think innovatively and keep raising the bar for sustainability.”
Among the steps Home Depot has embraced in recent years is an upgrading and improvement of its supply chain in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of getting 135 megawatts of energy used by the chain’s store from renewable sources by next year.
The company has additionally committed itself to purchasing wood only from companies practicing sustainable forestry.
According to the company’s Built from Scratch overview report, Home Depot now sells “less than 1 percent of all wood cut worldwide.” And the majority of that wood, says the report, comes from “North American forests, which are expanding.”
Launched in 1978, Home Depot continues to build new locations in every region of the country, with most stores averaging around 105,000 square feet. Combined, Home Depot today owns and operates around 240 million square feet of retail space.
In a report published earlier this year, Daniel Kline, an analyst with the website Motley Fool, noted that Home Depot is one of the few retailers in the country that has not decreased its store presence as a result of ecommerce pressure.
“Customers might order a known home improvement item online,” said Kline, “but whether it’s a paint color or a light fixture, most items sold by the chain are the types of things people like to see in person.”
By Garry Boulard
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