Plans for the building out of a new subdivision that would go up near the Petroglyphs National Monument, some 10 miles northwest of downtown Albuquerque, have overcome an initial hurdle.
Members of the city’s Environmental Planning Commission have approved a variance request submitted by the Consensus Planning that will allow for the construction of two-story homes on smaller lots.
The project, encompassing just over 20 acres, will be comprised of “an interior system of open space, trails, preserved rock outcroppings, and parks,” according to correspondence submitted by the Albuquerque-based Consensus Planning firm to the commission.
The project, located off of Woodmont Avenue between Paseo del Norte NE and the Petroglyphs, has sparked the opposition of area residents, including the Westside Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, which has expressed concerns that upon completion the project will obstruct views of the Petroglyphs.
While normally the decision of the Environmental Planning Commission is the final stop in most variance matters, opponents are asking for a repeal of the commission action in this instance.
That appeal will be reviewed by a land-use hearing officer. If that officer agrees that the variance decision should be appealed, the matter will ultimately be decided by the Albuquerque City Council.
The Petroglyphs National Monument stretches just over 17 miles and contains an estimated 24,000 images carved by early Spanish settlers and ancestral Pueblo people. It is additionally an area made up of hundreds of archeological sites, and is governed by the National Park Service.
By Garry Boulard
Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives is calling for an appropriation of around $6.5 billion to be spent on upgrading a series of infrastructure projects within the nation’s federal parks.
The measure was approved on a 32 to 2 vote in the House Natural Resources Committee earlier this summer.
That money would go for such things as repairing and upgrading crumbling roads, bringing deteriorating campgrounds up to date, and rehabilitating water and sewer systems.
To pay for the appropriation, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act would direct money from fees, already being paid on an annual basis to the federal government, from oil and gas companies.
It is thought that the total National Park infrastructure upgrade costs, encompassing just over sixty individual parks, could be as great as $12 billion.
Those parks include the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great San Dunes, Mesa Verde, and Rocky Mountain in Colorado; the Carlsbad Caverns of New Mexico; and the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Saguaro in Arizona.
Proponents of the bill say that a comprehensive upgrading of the National Park infrastructure has not been undertaken since the 1960s.
As proposed, the legislation would dedicate $1.3 billion each year for a period of five years for park repairs and upgrades.
A survey released this month by the Pew Charitable Trust indicates that 82 percent of respondents were in favor of the legislation.
By Garry Boulard
Adding to a growing list of data centers, logistics companies, and warehouses that have in recent years located to Goodyear, Arizona, an inventory management company has announced plans to build a 719,000 square foot facility there.
The Quetico company, whose corporate offices are based in Chino, California, says it wants to put up a facility that will house both warehouse and office space near the northeast corner of 143rd Avenue and Yuma Road.
The project, on just under 40 currently vacant acres, is expected to cost around $45 million to build, with construction beginning either later this year or early next year.
Launched 25 years ago, Quetico provides third party logistics, specialized wholesale and inventory management to any number of big box retailers, including Wal-Mart.
The company enjoys revenues in excess of $100 million a year.
Quetico’s decision to build in Goodyear comes after weeks of talks with local officials. In welcoming the company, Mayor Georgia Lord said that the presence of Quetico will mean more jobs for the city, as well as “additional revenue to support our schools, recreational amenities, public safety, and improve our infrastructure.”
Quetico is partnering with the Fulmer Company, which is based in Export, Pennsylvania and also specializes in logistics, to get the Goodyear facility built.
Quetico’s California site comprises a campus made up of office space and two warehouses totaling some 500,000 square feet.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are now in the works for the construction of an advanced water purification facility in El Paso that will belong to the city’s El Paso Water Utilities.
Exactly $3.5 million is coming from the federal Bureau of Reclamation for the construction of a system treating wastewater for later potable reuse.
What is being described as the first large-scale, potable reuse project in the country will, upon completion, annually produce 4.2 billion gallons, or 13,000 acre-feet, of potable water.
The funding is part of a significantly larger $16.9 million in grant support announced by the Bureau of Reclamation for projects that will also soon be underway in California and Hawaii.
The projects are officially defined as Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects.
In a statement, Brenda Burman, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner, said the Title XVI program has been successful in “helping communities to look beyond traditional surface or groundwater sources.”
Burman added that the Title XVI initiative “allows communities to diversify their water supply—exploring water reuse, recycling, and other techniques while improving efficiency and flexibility during water shortages.”
El Paso Water has long been interested in the possibilities of potable water reuse. In 2015 it gave the go-ahead to launching a pilot plant project at the Roberto Bustamante Wastewater Treatment Plant designed to recycle 10 million gallons per day.
By Garry Boulard
Although reports of chain store closures continue to continue to dominate the news, a new study by a business consulting group shows that the industry in in the last year has seen more than twice as many retail store openings than closings.
The report by the Franklin, Tennessee-based IHL Consulting Group says that in every retail category, including mass merchandisers, convenience stores, and supermarkets, new stores are being built and opened across the country.
More specifically, there were nearly 3,100 more new stores opened in the last three months of 2018 than in that same time period in late 2017.
The biggest growth segment has been seen in convenience stores, which opened nearly 4,600 more outlets in late 2018 over late 2017.
While the report, Retail’s Renaissance—True Story of Store Openings/Closings, does record significant closings primarily in the department store, drug stores, and specialty soft goods categories, it also shows 97 percent of the nation’s convenience store businesses have gained locations.
Even in the troubled department store segment, which saw 19 percent of its outlets closed late last year, a larger 27 percent reported new location openings.
“Retail is a dynamic, fast-changing, highly competitive industry, and there are no guarantees of success,” says the report, before adding: “Consumer expectations are growing and evolving, and retailers must invest heavily to improve the in-store experience.”
The report also suggests that further retail store openings are likely primarily because 98 percent of the industry is made up of always-growing small businesses: “There might well be a small business opening its first store today that will become a dominant player in the next decade.”
While the IHL Consulting Group document acknowledges the growing impact of online retail, it also predicts that in the next three years up to 81 percent of all retail businesses will continue to have a physical store presence.
By Garry Boulard
The original idea, announced with much fanfare in late 2017, was to build an 81-story structure in downtown Denver at a site that is currently a parking lot.
The project, to be developed by the New York-based Greenwich Realty Capital, would give to the city its tallest building, surpassing the 56-floor Republic Plaza, which has held that title since 1984.
The proposed Six Fifty 17 would have included a combination of retail, condominium, and hotel space inside a glass-encased, sleek structure designed by world famous architect Carlos Ott.
With a preliminary project application submitted to the city by Greenwich, it was thought that work on the massive structure would begin by this summer.
The project, for a number of reasons, however, never became reality, prompting Harbinger Development of Boston to recently purchase the less-than-one-acre site at 17th and California streets.
Purchase price for the property is reported to be just over $17.5 million.
Although reports indicate that Harbinger, a real estate investment and advisory firm specializing in hotel projects, may also be interested in building a skyscraper, specific plans for the site have yet to be announced.
Even so, in the world of high-rises, Harbinger is no slouch. Among its larger projects, it developed the 33-story 45 Stuart Street Boston project, which houses just over 400 housing units.
The Denver site in question is surrounded by multi-story bank and office buildings, and is in the heart of the city.
By Garry Boulard
New road construction and upgrading projects across New Mexico are expected to see work begin by next spring, now that they have secured state funding.
Members of the New Mexico Transportation Commission have committed just under $50 million in state funding to long-planned local, county, and tribal projects.
By design, that six-member commission determines overall policy for the New Mexico Department of Transportation and meets half a dozen times per year.
In order to receive the commission-approved funding, local governments must agree to kick in 5 percent of whatever the state is paying for the project in question.
In a statement, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham noted the challenge that the state has faced in recent years is addressing the declining condition of its transportation infrastructure.
“It will take time and focus to get to where we need to be, but we have begun the process and will see it through expeditiously,” she said.
Project funding approved by the commission for Local Government Transportation Funds include nearly $689,000 for the rehabilitation of Highway 44 in the town of Bernalillo; exactly $100,000 for work on Gonzales Road, as well as another $150,000 for the upgrading of the Torres Trail, both in the Village of Tijeras.
Funding to the tune of more than $1.7 million will target the Unser Boulevard Phase 11B right of way acquisition in Rio Rancho, along with the $800,000 reconstruction of Southern Boulevard, also in Rio Rancho.
The Village of Eagle Nest will be taking on the $1.2 million improvement of Fisherman’s Lane, while Farmington will see the $575,000 resurfacing of its San Juan Boulevard.
One of the bigger projects is the $2.5 million reconstruction of the Industrial Park Business Loop in Deming.
By Garry Boulard
An ongoing lack of qualified construction labor appears to be reaching dire proportions as a new report indicates that 80 percent of construction firms say they are having a difficult time filling craft positions.
In the report, issued by the Washington-based Associated General Contractors of America, an equally large 73 percent of responding firms said they thought it would either continue to be hard to hire such workers, or become even harder, over the course of the next twelve months.
In a statement, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the AGC, said the ongoing workforce shortage issue remains “one of the most significant threats to the construction industry.”
An exhaustive survey includes the input of nearly 2,000 construction industry respondents and indicates that the shortage challenge is particularly pressing in the West and South, where 83 percent of contractors said they were having difficulties finding qualified help.
The percentage was only marginally smaller in the Midwest with 81 percent of contractors reporting shortages. In the Northeast, the number stood at 75 percent of respondents.
Despite the ongoing lack of available workers, contractors across the board indicated that they intended to pursue efforts in 2020 to expand their workforce.
In this category, 95 percent of Arizona respondents said they expected to hire more people next year, while 86 percent of Colorado respondents indicated the same. There were no available statistics for New Mexico.
Although the construction workers shortage in recent years has remained stubbornly persistent, the AGC has continued to press for a greater federal funding of workforce development, immigration reform, and wider and more varied apprenticeship opportunities to increase the industry’s workforce.
As part of his statement, Sandherr asserted that “labor shortages are a challenge that can be fixed, and this association will continue to do everything in its power to make sure that happens.”
By Garry Boulard
A new mixed-use project could be soon going up on a currently vacant 22-acre piece of property in growing north Scottsdale.
Currently being studied by Scottsdale’s Development Review Board, the project includes a combination of new office space, retail, and a 123-room hotel that will be branded as a Hilton Home 2 Suites.
More specifically, the project takes in around 420,000 square feet of office space, and 38,000 square feet of retail space, along with two separate parking structures housing enough combined space for up to 2,100 vehicles.
The project will be built on a rectangular piece of land bordered by the Thompson Peak Parkway on the north and Legacy Boulevard on the south. The office space is slated to go up at both the northern and southern ends of the property.
What is being called One Scottsdale is the product of the Scottsdale-based DMB Associates, which has made a reputation for itself as a developer of large master planned communities.
According to reports, at full build-out, the One Scottsdale project could eventually encompass up to 2.8 million square feet of office, commercial, and retail space, along with some 2,000 residential units.
By Garry Boulard
The Denver Water utility company has announced an ambitious effort to rid the city of around 75,000 existing lead service lines between now and 2035.
The idea is to not only significantly reduce lead that through the years has seeped into the city’s extensive water system, but to also greatly eradicate the presence of orthophosphate which contributes to stream and river pollution.
The estimated $500 million program would see all existing lead pipes replaced with copper lines.
In a Denver Water press release, it is noted that “water delivered to homes and businesses in Denver is lead-free, but lead can get into water as it moves through lead-containing household plumbing and service lines that are owned by the customer.”
According to Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program Plan, lead services lines were typically installed in the city’s early suburban homes in the late 1940s and early 50s.
As such, those lines eventually became the primary source of lead found in drinking water and were officially banned by state law in 1986.
But, while Denver Water in recent decades has worked to reduce the presence of lead in drinking water, the existence of the lead service lines have minimized the effectiveness of that effort.
In response, the water company has declared as its mission the goal of identifying all of the homes within the city where such lead pipes were installed, and replacing up to 7 percent of them annually.
Before the line replacement effort can begin, it still needs to secure the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency, an approval that is expected to be granted sometime next year.
Denver Water is the public water utility for both the city and county of Denver. According to the most recent statistics, it serves more than 1.4 million people.
By Garry Boulard
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