In recent weeks, a construction company has completed work on a new 76-unit student housing complex in Sherman, Texas that will serve students attending Austin College.
A $134 million student housing community on the campus of the University of Miami is opening this fall, with more than 1,100 units.
In Berkeley, California, plans are now underway for the construction of a 40-unit student housing project that will go up adjacent to the University of California campus, a project that is expected to cost $13 million to build.
These, and other projects across the country, point to a still-vibrant student housing construction market. But a new industry report indicates that the accoutrements of student housing space have changed since the Covid-19 outbreak.
Those new features, according to the publication Building Design + Construction, are increasingly seeing the appearances of small sinks in bedroom units, allowing for more frequent hand-washing without trips to bathrooms shared by all of the residents on a single floor.
Resident hall common spaces where students usually study together are also seeing new configurations, says the publication, noting, “We have seen the separation of large spaces into smaller group settings,” while more and more buildings are installing such touchless features as elevator card swipes, automatic front door openers, and keycard touchpads.
The pandemic is additionally seeing a greater movement towards single occupancy spaces for students, says the report, adding: “Micro apartment units that offer the privacy and independence of single occupancy along with proximity to main campus, and the affordability of small footprints, may have renewed relevance and interest in the Covid-19 era.”
That the need for student housing remains constant, despite the pandemic, is seen in a new report by the publication Realpage, which notes that “pre-leasing for student housing has continued to gain momentum, though at a slower pace than in past years.”
The publication added that as of last month more than 82 percent of campus housing units were already rented out, a figure just several points below the summer 2019 rate.
By Garry Boulard
Plans remain in the talking stage for the renovation of a historic building in downtown El Paso, even as the primary retailer in that building is for the present discontinuing its business.
Officials with the Fallas discount department store have confirmed that the chain has closed its well-known location at 301 E. San Antonio Avenue.
Owned by the Los Angeles-based National Stores Incorporated, the Fallas store in El Paso takes up the entirety of the ground level of a six-floor structure at the corner of San Antonio and E. Mesa Street.
Designed by well-known southwest architect Henry Trost, the structure was built at a cost of $350,000 in 1917 as a location for the Popular Department Store chain that also included a basement and two mezzanine floors.
Designed in the Chicago School architectural style, it has long been regarded by preservationists and others as an architectural gem. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places list in 1980.
Talks between El Paso city officials and owner Michael Fallas regarding an extensive renovation of the 200,000 square foot building have been ongoing for the past several years, with a focus on transforming the upper floors into loft apartments and office space.
In an interview with the El Paso Times, Fallas said the closing of the store is due to the economic consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak, but that he remained hopeful that the store will be reopened soon.
Fallas also remarked that he was “still interested in redeveloping the building. It has to make financial sense, but I’m sure it will in the future.”
By Garry Boulard
Voters in Fort Collins may be called upon to help decide what should be built at the 161-acre site of the Colorado State University’s former Hughes Stadium.
That 34,000-seat stadium, located at 2011 S. Overland Trail, was demolished in 2018 after the school’s Colorado State Rams moved into a new facility on the main campus of CSU.
Ever since that demolition, city officials and both neighborhood and community activists have been engaged in a sometimes rancorous dialogue trying to determine what kind of a development will replace the west Fort Collins stadium.
Earlier this summer, members of the Fort Collins City Council voted against rezoning the site as a necessary first step in the proposed development of a subdivision that would have included up to 700 single-family homes.
Those homes would be developed by the home building company Lennar, which earlier signed a development agreement with CSU. Lennar has said that the project cannot go forward without the zoning change.
Last month Lennar and CSU jointly submitted to the city a plan calling for the creation of three separate zoning designations for the site that would allow for both residential and mixed-use development.
Now a move is underway by a group called PATHS, otherwise known as Planning Action to Transform Hughes, to put on the ballot a question that will give local voters a say in the zoning of the site.
That move would require a petition drive garnering the signatures of just under 3,300 registered voters to put the question on a ballot.
By Garry Boulard
Nearly 14,000 new jobs in highway and street construction were added in June as summer projects across the country began in earnest, says a new report issued by the Washington-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
The job increases were also noted in bridge construction work.
Perhaps more surprising, industry numbers were up over June 2019 levels, which saw 384,200 employed in highway, street, and bridge work. As June of this year, the total stood at around 384,800.
The transportation construction numbers have been gently sloping upwards for most of the year with under 300,000 workers recorded for January, and just over 350,000 in June.
At the same time, overall construction nationally stood at 7.4 million workers, up from previous months, but still down from the 7.7 million recorded last summer.
An ARTBA report issued last month additionally noted that state and local governments in June had awarded just under $11 billion in transportation contracts, an increase of nearly $3 billion over the previous June.
In looking at the contracts picture, Alison Premo Black, ARTBA chief economist, noted in a press release: “Although some states have announced project delays, overall work continues to get in the construction pipeline.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans are advancing for the construction of up to 120 new homes in southwest Santa Fe, between Rufina Street on the north and the Airport Road to the south in a general area of mostly one-story residential homes.
The new homes will actually be built as part of two separate projects, one called Aquafina and the other Casa de Todos, comprising a total of 21 acres.
Both will go up on currently vacant land and will belong to developers Rudy Rodriguez, Senior and Junior, who are working together on the project.
With the planned homes expected to be roughly priced around $300,000, the Aquafina and Casa de Todos projects will be built on approximately 10 and 11 acres each, with lot sizes of around 5,000 square feet.
As planned, the layout for the twin projects will be dense, with the various homes built to either side of a corridor measuring some 4,600 feet in length.
The developers are currently in the process of securing zoning and site plan approval for the twin projects.
Both father and son Rodriguez are long-time Santa Fe developers, with the senior Rodriguez having formerly served in the 1970s three terms as a member of the Santa Fe County Commission.
By Garry Boulard
Just over a dozen new multi-use sports fields may be built at two separate locations in Scottsdale if current plans become reality.
City officials have long said that the fields are needed in response to a growing demand for more soccer and football space.
City documents additionally suggest that the existence of the new fields will also permit Scottsdale to host large tournament games.
Those fields will most likely be built at two currently vacant properties, one located at 94th Street and Bell Road, and the other at the intersection of McDowell Mountain Road and the Thompson Peak Parkway.
The subject of several public input meetings, construction of the new fields is expected to cost up to $40 million, and will additionally include the building of restrooms, maintenance facilities, and parking lots, among other features.
Design of the new facilities is also expected to see utilization of the latest water and drainage technology in order to maximize water conservation, and in so doing decrease the amount of down time due to rain events.
By Garry Boulard
A new report just released by the National Association of Realtors is showing a marked increase in single family homes, as well as both co-ops and condominiums, between June and July.
That report shows a 25 percent gain nationally over the sales levels of the same period of time last year. Even more, the average price of a home has now reached $309,000, the first time in history that that average has surpassed the $300,000 mark.
In a statement, Lawrence Yun, chief economist with NAR, declared that the nation’s housing market is “well past the recovery phase and is now booming with higher home sales compared to the pre-pandemic days.”
Continued Yun: “With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes, and this will lead to a secondary level of demand, even into 2021.”
Analysts say the increased demand for new homes is now on the verge of taxing what is regarded as a healthy supply of around six to seven months. “At July’s pace, it would take 3.1 months to exhaust the current inventory, down from 4.2 months a year ago,” says the New York Post.
Notes the financial website MarketWatch: “To a large extent, the bumper demand for housing is an indication that Americans are aiming to make up for lost time. Many economists believe that what we’re seeing now is essentially a postponed spring home-buying season.”
Only naturally, the new home sales boom is expected to spur additional new home building, asserts Fan-Yu Kuo with the National Association of Home Builders: “Though sales have picked up, rising home prices driven by low inventory and elevated jobless claims could be a bottleneck for future home sales.”
The NAHB economist adds: “More listings and home construction are needed to meet this rising demand.”
By Garry Boulard
A company with plans to produce airships in New Mexico is receiving up to $5 million in support for the construction of a new manufacturing facility.
The New Mexico Economic Development Department has announced that that support will come in the form of Local Economic Development Act funding.
The company, Sceye, Incorporated, has been conducting airship research at both the Roswell International Air Center as well as the Moriarty Municipal Airport.
Where exactly the new production facility will be built hasn’t yet been announced, but in a statement, Alicia Keyes, the state’s Economic Development director, lauded Sceye as the sort of company that “will drive economic development in the state for years to come.”
To date, Sceye has invested more than $50 million in the development of a stratospheric airship capable of ascending to heights of 65,000 feet and being used for such varied tasks as monitoring methane emissions and providing broadband coverage to rural parts of the state.
Founded by Mikkel Vestergaard, a leader in global public health companies, Sceye became a company in early 2017 with the goal of developing a lighter than air, remote-controlled airship carrying cameras and communications equipment.
The potential for such airships is thought to be additionally unlimited because, unlike satellites, they can operate closer to the earth’s surface in any pre-determined location.
In a statement, Vestergaard particularly emphasized the airship’s potential in providing broadband technology for areas of the state currently without it, noting: “There is a massive gap between the connected and unconnected.”
The company wants to build at least five airships between now and late 2022.
Just over 3 years ago, Sceye received funding support of some $2 million from the State of New Mexico when its facilities at the Roswell airport were significantly damaged as the result of a windstorm.
By Garry Boulard
Work could begin later this fall on the construction of a proposed Class A industrial building near the busy Loop 303 corridor in Glendale, Arizona.
The Kansas City, Missouri-based VanTrust Real Estate has now purchased the just over 76 currently vacant acres, located at Sarival Road and Maryland Avenue, with plans to build a 660,000 square foot speculative industrial structure.
In a statement, Jenna Borcherding, director of development with VanTrust, said the site for the new structure was chosen because it’s in “close proximity to a growing and skilled labor force, along with prime access to the Loop 303 freeway.”
Borcherding added that the “building’s size offers tremendous opportunity and flexibility.”
Most likely to be used as a distribution facility, the building will feature ceiling heights of 40 feet, along with clerestory glass windows conducive to natural lighting.
It is expected that work on the structure will be completed by the early summer of next year.
VanTrust Real Estate is a full-service real estate development company that this summer launched the construction of a four-story, 115,000 square-foot Class A office building in McKinney, Texas; as well as just under 1 million square feet of industrial spec space in El Paso.
By Garru Boulard
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., otherwise popularly known simply as Chipotle, has announced that it is expanding plans to build new outlets across the country with drive-up features.
The expansion comes as the Newport Beach, California-based company has seen its online sales increase by more than 60 percent in the second quarter of this year.
That boom in online transactions has allowed Chipotle to post an overall sales decline for the second quarter of only 9.8%, significantly smaller than the 11.5% decrease anticipated by industry observers.
During that quarter the company closed 30 of its 2,670 restaurants, many of which were located in shopping malls.
At the same time, Chipotle built 37 new restaurants, and of that total, 21 included structural drive-up features.
Altogether, around 100 of the company’s locations have now embraced the drive-through format, officially called a Chipotlane. But Chipotle has also announced that because the feature has been so well received, it plans to build at least 1,000 similar stores between now and 2025.
In a statement issued upon the release of the company’s second quarter figures, Brian Nicol, Chipotle chief executive officer, said stores with drive-up features, “continue to perform very well and are helping enhance guest access and convenience, as well as increase new restaurant sales, margins, and returns.”
Founded in the summer of 1993 in Denver, Chipotle, with an average store size between 2,200 and 2,500 square feet, has a strong presence primarily on the East and West coasts.
It currently has just over 170 outlets combined in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
By Garru Boulard
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