In neighborhood mostly populated with one-story houses and apartment buildings, a Denver firm, known for its emphasis on sustainability projects, wants to develop a combined apartment and condominium complex.
The Denver-based Zocalo Community Development says it will build more than three hundred housing units in an area of the city known as Sloan’s Lake neighborhood, roughly 3 miles to the west of downtown Denver.
The visual center of what is being called 17th & Newton will be a 16-story condominium tower that residents belonging to the Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association have said is too tall for the surrounding area.
Also included in the development plans are a bike and pedestrian path, as well as 5,000 square feet of community space.
The project, which will go up on a 5.2-acre site, has now won the approval of the Denver City Council, members of which particularly liked its combination of luxury and affordable units.
Construction on the project’s apartment building could begin in late 2020, with work on the condominium tower slated to start two years after that.
Taking on both new construction and redevelopment work, Zocalo emphasizes water conservation, materials recycling, and solar-powered technology, among other features, in all of its projects.
By Garry Boulard
Construction spending nationally remained strong this spring in a range of categories, according to new numbers just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
But compared with last year at this same time that spending was off by 2.3 percent.
The Census says its data estimates factor the “cost of labor and materials, cost of architecture and engineering work, overhead costs, interest and taxes paid during construction, and contractors’ profits.”
As such, the bureau says that in the public construction sector, spending is up a significant 12 percent over last year at this time, with highway and street construction projects up by 18 percent.
Also in public construction, education project spending was up by 7.9 percent, while spending on transportation construction projects saw a 6.8 percent gain.
The most significant spending decreases were seen in private residential projects. While multifamily construction was up by nearly 9 percent, spending on single family projects dropped 6.5 percent.
And even though some industry analysts predicted the opposite, spending on residential improvement projects was off by 16 percent.
Spending proved uneven in other segments of the large nonresidential category with commercial construction taking a 10 percent decline, while spending on manufacturing and office construction projects increased 11 and 8.5 percent respectively.
According to the latest Census Bureau data, overall construction spending nationally was at the $1.2 trillion mark, down from $1.3 trillion in April.
By Garry Boulard
A project that could see the construction of more than 250 homes in north Carlsbad is being seen as a response to the southeastern New Mexico city’s unprecedented growth.
Members of the Carlsbad City Council have given their approval to a zoning change for the site of a new subdivision called The Flumes. That change will take the site from a rural residential district designation to a residential district number one designation.
Council members also voted to approve a zoning change for a nearby 10-acre site, going from a rural residential district to a commercial district two.
That change, applying to land just west of Callaway Drive and north of the Pecos River, will allow for the development of any number of businesses and retail operations designed to service the residents living in the larger Flumes subdivision.
Carlsbad developer George Dunagan is taking on both the residential and commercial portions of The Flumes project and has told members of the city council that he hopes to see work starting on the subdivision by late 2020.
With a population of just over 25,600 in the year 2000, Carlsbad has seen its population substantially increase due to the current boom in regional oil and gas exploration.
Although no official figures have been released, some have estimated that because of the oil work, the population of Carlsbad could today be twice what it was in 2000.
In a column recently published in the Carlsbad Current Argus, Mayor Dale Janway noted that Carlsbad is “continuing to see significant residential, commercial, and industrial development across the town.”
“We all know that building more houses and apartments is the key issue,” Janway continued, adding: “and the City is committed to supporting that effort.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans for the construction of 68-unit senior center in Santa Fe may be forestalled for the time being until some $80 million in funding is finally secured.
The non-profit retirement community El Castillo has long been interested in purchasing land at the intersection of Old Taos Highway and Paseo de Peralta to build the new center.
But although the project has been declared as eligible for industrial revenue bond funding, members of the Santa Fe City Council’s Finance Committee have decided to hold off on granting that funding for the time being.
That decision was based on a need to learn more information about the project, including its likely economic impact in the city.
As envisioned, the project would see the construction of a more than 200,000 square foot building that would also include a dining room, kitchen fitness center, and interior courtyards.
The Old Taos Highway site in question is the former home of the Presbyterian Church retreat center known as the Ghost Ranch.
A federally-recognized continuing care retirement community based in downtown Santa Fe, El Castillo was opened in 1971 and features 186 individual units, 23 of which are designed as assisted living, with eleven categorized as memory support.
In order to award the industrial revenue bonds for the project, the Finance Committee is required to approve an ordinance authorizing the issuance and sale of those bonds.
The committee is expected to take up the question again during its upcoming August 19 meeting.
By Garry Boulard
Even as retail analysts have been predicting the ongoing decline of bricks and mortar commerce, new shopping malls are continuing to be built across the country, notes a new report for the website The Motley Fool.
The report by analyst Travis Hoium notes: “Construction cranes never seem to leave the mall area as a shopping expansion turns into a hotel, which turns into another retail expansion.”
The report also notes that shopping mall vacancies across the country have leveled off at 9.3 percent, down from 11.1 percent during the Great Recession.
In addition, says the report, while big anchor stores like Sears and JC Penney have closed and left behind large spaces at many shopping centers, a variety of companies, ranging from Nike to Verizon and Microsoft, have set up new, smaller mall locations.
The Motley Fool report comes as the International Council of Shopping Centers has released a study contending that malls continue to play a great role in the “cultural life of their surrounding communities,” providing public space for any number of large-scale events.
The ICSC report, The Future of the Shopping Center Industry, also contends that shopping centers today are “increasingly doubling as distribution centers for online purchases.”
“The trend is tied to efforts on the part of retail chains to leverage their existing real estate portfolios and store personnel to fulfill online orders,” says the report.
“Interestingly” continues the report, “retailers may become more reluctant to shutter stores in second and third-tier centers, where rents are relatively low, because of the enhanced role stores now play in terms of fulfillment.”
Rather than the nation’s shopping malls becoming increasingly vacant and even eventually demolished, the report predicts that such facilities are likely to see more renovation and upgrade work in response to changing retail conditions.
By Garry Boulard
In an effort to address the specter of a city with less and less open green space, members of the Denver City Council have voted unanimously to require developers to provide such space in all new projects.
The law, which will only apply to projects measuring more than five acres in size, specifically calls for 10 percent of a development’s land space to be set aside for open space.
That space must also be accessible to the public and visible from the street. The open space would also need to be contiguous.
In addition, the new law will require developers to hold community meetings earlier in the public input part of a project.
In a statement, Denver Mayor Michal Hancock said the input change will allow for a greater reliance on a “community-driven planning process ahead of new, large developments” with the goal of ensuring “that our neighborhoods’ priorities are met and supported.”
Denver’s Community Planning and Development department is tasked with implementing a review process for affected projects under the new law.
According to a press release issued by that office, developers will be given input early in the life of a project regarding neighborhood priorities, as well as “providing coordinated infrastructure improvements, publicly accessible open space, parkland, and quality design.”
Concerns regarding the diminishing amount of open space in Denver have become the topic of conversations in recent years throughout the city.
Earlier this year, the Denver Post reported that nearly half of the land within Denver’s city limits is now “paved up or built over, up from less than 20 percent in the mid-1970s.” The paper added that that figure could reach 70 percent in the next two decades.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are well underway for the creation of a 34,000 square foot food hall inside Albuquerque’s transformative Sawmill District.
The district, whose official address is 20th Street at Bellamah Avenue NW, was once the home to a thriving lumber mill dating back to 1903.
The $24 million Sawmill Market is being carved out of the former Frank Paxton Lumber Company building, and will house up to two dozen individual retail spaces offering a variety of foodstuffs.
What is being called “New Mexico’s First Artisanal Food Hall” will be located across Bellamah from the Hotel Chaco.
Work on the individual spaces could see some facility upgrading and conversion, with plans calling for the hall to officially open next February.
As designed, the building will also include cold and dry storage space, and both an interior common area seating space as well as outdoor seating.
The market project was the recipient late last year of $10 million in industrial revenue bonds approved by the Bernalillo County Commission.
A report put together by the county said that the Sawmill District project itself “encourages the use of a re-development strategy that encourages sustainable, smart growth in conserving land resources by attracting new infill development.”
Officials say they regard the new food hall as the epicenter of the larger Sawmill District mixed-use project, which will include walkable space in a neighbor setting populated with restaurants, hotels, and retail shops.
By Garry Boulard
After months of speculation, the Department of the Interior has announced that it is relocating the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management from Washington to Colorado.
More specially, the agency’s main office will be centered in Grand Junction, a move that BLM officials say will allow for greater communication with the communities it serves.
“Nine-nine percent of the land the BLM manages is west of the Mississippi River, and so should be the BLM headquarters,” said Colorado Senator Cory Gardner upon the announcement of the move.
“This is a victory for local communities, advocates for public lands, and proponents for a more responsible and accountable federal government,” added Gardner, who introduced legislation in 2018 calling for the move.
The relocation has won the support of Colorado Governor Jared Polis who remarked: “Grand Junction is the perfect location for the BLM because of community support, location closer to the land BLM manages, and the positive impact it will have on our western Colorado economy.”
Where exactly in Grand Junction the BLM will open its new headquarters has not yet been announced. But Grand Junction officials have earlier indicated that they think the agency may at least initially upgrade an existing office structure for its purposes.
It is also possible that the BLM may build an entirely new facility, mostly likely in downtown Grand Junction, officials says.
Signed into law in 1946 by President Harry Truman, the Bureau of Land Management oversees nearly 250 million acres of public lands, the majority of which are located in the West, including Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
By Garry Boulard
Officials with Arizona Christian University have announced plans to build up to 1,400 new housing units in Glendale as part of a larger plan that is expected to see the private school’s enrollment more than double in the next decade.
The nearly 60 year-old school, based in Phoenix, moved onto the former campus of Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management last year after Thunderbird re-located its facilities to ASU’s downtown Phoenix site.
The Glendale campus is located at the intersection of Greenway Road and 59th Avenue.
Once that move was completed, Arizona Christian University officials said they wanted to build on some 85 acres of currently vacant land bordering the east and south side of that campus.
Those officials also envisioned the construction of well over six hundred new homes on the same land comprising what is being called the Thunderbird Village.
Now, members of the Glendale City Council have given their approval to a zoning change that will allow for the new residential construction.
The planned Thunderbird Village may also eventually include medical and childcare space, as well as restaurants.
Arizona Christian University’s move to the former Thunderbird campus has meant that the school has increased its campus size from the 20 acres it previously had in Phoenix to nearly 70 acres today, along with a structural footprint going from 150,000 square feet to 500,000 square feet.
Lee Munsil, Arizona Christian University president, has noted that the new move has also given to the school “an expansive library ten times the size of our current library,” as well as the addition of a campus store, coffee shop and student union.
The school’s new campus formerly servd as the site to a flight training school. During World War II, the Thunderbird Field Number One saw the training of more than 16,000 Air Force cadets.
By Garry Boulard
Up to $200 million in Texas drinking water and wastewater infrastructure project funding may be available if voters in November prove willing to approve a new constitutional amendment.
That amendment, as proposed by Texas State Representative Eddie Lucio, and subsequently overwhelmingly passed in both legislative chambers, would authorize the Texas Water Development Board to provide funding for such projects.
Created in 1957, that board is tasked with providing planning and financial assistance to local governments for water development and conservation projects throughout the state.
By definition, the funding will specifically target projects in what are known as Economically Distressed Areas, a designation created by the Texas Legislature two decades ago.
Besides water and wastewater projects, the funding can also be used for drainage projects as well as the acquisition of land.
In an editorial published in the El Paso Times, Ed Roden-Lucero, pastor of the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in East El Paso, said the amendment’s passage will ensure that “more families will live in neighborhoods that have safe drinking water and wastewater services.”
The funding proposal must go the amendment route due to a Texas law prohibiting the state from borrowing money for any project without first securing the consent of the voting public.
A promising trend line for water project advocates in the state: proposed voter-approved constitutional amendments, according to one analysis, have a better than 90 percent passage rate.
By Garry Boulard
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