Plans have now been announced for the building of a modern research and academic library on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University.
The facility will honor the late John McCain, who served in Congress for 35 years, representing Arizona, and was the 2008 Republican nominee for president.
The facility, to be called the John S. McCain III Library, will be built on a 22.5-acre site to the direct north of the main campus.
According to plans, the building will include an archive housing McCain’s papers relating to his long public career, as well as a visitors’ center. The structure will also be the Arizona home to the McCain Institute, which is headquartered in Washington and tasked with studying leadership and public policy issues.
By design, the new 80,000 square-foot library will be located so as to provide an elevated view not just of the campus itself, but also the Rio Salado riverbed and Tempe Town Lake.
The new library project will actually see the construction of several buildings surrounding a landscaped site that has been owned by the university, but underused, since the 1980s.
The site itself is regarded as historic Native American land, a fact alluded to by Jacob Moore, special advisor to ASU President Michael Crow. In a statement, Moore said the university intends to work with area Native American communities to “ensure that the planning and design process incorporates their interests and sensitivities and honors those lands as Native American lands.”
While a timetable for both the development and eventual construction of the McCain library has not yet been released, the ASU Foundation, which focuses on donor support for the university, has announced that it will soon launch a fundraising campaign for the project.
By Garry Boulard
Congressional analysts are predicting that Congress will not be able to reach a budgetary agreement in time to avert a government shutdown this coming weekend.
That shutdown, notes USA Today, is “moving from possible to likely as Congress has failed to cut through gridlock and reach a deal to fund the federal government.”
With the government scheduled to run out of funds on Sunday morning, the Senate is closing in on a bill that will allow for the government to be funded until November 17.
But the picture remains muddled in the House, where a handful of members are continuing to hold out for substantial budget cuts that most likely will not win approval among a majority of members.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has told reporters that he’s open to establishing a commission that would be tasked with coming up with solutions to decreasing the national debt.
If established, the commission could be used as a tool to keep the government operating until a budget deal can be reached. “A number of members have been pushing the debt commission,” said McCarthy, adding that it would be a “very bipartisan committee.”
According to a variety of sources, a shutdown would impact the operation of national parks, the funding of federal college grants and loans, a wide array of food assistance programs, and federally funded preschool programs, among other services.
New Mexico Congressman Gabe Vasquez has remarked that a government shutdown would see the closing of the White Sands National Park and the Carlsbad Caverns, adding that those closures would “affect the local economies of those areas like Carlsbad, Alamogordo, and Las Cruces.”
In Arizona, Governor Katie Hobbs has promised to use revenue from the state’s lottery to keep the Grand Canyon National Park open. “The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s greatest treasure,” Hobbs remarked in a statement. “My administration’s commitment to keeping this wonder accessible remains unwavering.”
Similarly, Colorado Governor Jared Polis has issued an executive order mandating the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan to keep the federal parks in the state open. In issuing that order, Polis remarked that the “closure of the national parks and other federal lands would hurt state and local economies, small businesses, and park employees.”
In order to keep the government funded, Congress is required to pass a dozen appropriation bills, with each of those bills providing funding for a defined government function and needing to be approved by the appropriations committees of both the House and Senate.
Because time is short, it is thought that lawmakers will instead approve a short-term stopgap measure to keep the government in business, although some House members have previously expressed displeasure with the stopgap process.
Those members have sent a letter to McCarthy saying that until spending cuts are implemented, among other things, “no member of Congress can or should be expected to consider supporting a stop-gap funding measure.”
By Garry Boulard
An historic mansion built in 1889 in downtown Denver that has in recent decades been used for office space is on the market with an asking price of $2.3 million.
Located at 1244 Grant Street, the two-story Creswell Mansion was designed by well-known regional architect John Huddart and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for nearly fifty years.
The 5,700 square-foot building, with a sturdy red sandstone exterior, is in every way a visual wonder, with a unique combination of Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival design styles, and an interior featuring original wooden floors, detailed paneled stairwell, fireplace mantles, and stained-glass windows.
In documents nominating the mansion for admission to the Register of Historic Places, it was noted that the structure "sits on a stone foundation and is capped by a multiple gable roof with three dormers, two on the south side, and one on the north."
Built for businessman Joseph Creswell, who was president of the Colorado Marble and Mining Company, the building later housed both physician and lawyer's offices.
A separate two-story building to the rear of the property, built in 1933 and measuring around 2,300 square feet, is also a part of the listing, which is being offered by the Denver office of realtor Marcus & Millichap.
By Garry Boulard
Colorado voters may be confronted next year with a referendum asking for new taxes to fund construction of a long-planned passenger rail service.
That service, as envisioned, would be supported by the building of 180 miles of tracks from Fort Collins in the north to Pueblo in the south, running roughly adjacent to Interstate 25.
An eventual future expansion of the line could well include parts of Wyoming and New Mexico.
A November 2024 referendum, as pushed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, would propose funding for a project that some experts believe could eventually cost as much $14 billion to completely build out.
According to an earlier study, the Front Range rail service would have the ability to accommodate up to 2 million passengers a year in the eastern half of Colorado that is seeing the greatest population growth.
State officials have previously commissioned technical studies laying out the scope and parameters of the new line and have been buttressed by public opinion polls showing that nearly two-thirds of voters support the creation of the service.
To move things along, members of the Colorado State Legislature voted to approve a Front Range Passenger Rail District, which became official in the summer of 2022 and is empowered to study and design the new line.
The district will also be tasked with maintaining the rail line itself should it someday become operative.
State officials throughout the West have been particularly interested in the passenger rail question primarily because so much funding out of Washington, in the tens of billions, is currently in play.
Speaking to a gathering of transportation experts last week, Polis, according to the site Colorado Newsline, remarked: “It’s not a question of whether there’s going to be any passenger rail service within the United States, but the question is, will Colorado get a train, or will Texas or California get a train?”
The Governor added: “We want to make sure Colorado gets passenger rail.”
Supporters of building the Front Range rail service have worried that even though opinion polls have shown support for the concept, a backlash over raising taxes may doom the referendum.
At the same time, they note that putting the question on the November 2024 ballot at the same time as the presidential election would guarantee a larger voter turnout presumed to favor of the proposal.
By Garry Boulard
The number of Small Business Administration individual loans to Latino-owned businesses has increased by more than 2,200 since 2021, representing an unprecedented dollar value of more than $2.8 million.
Those figures, just released by the SBA, show that in 2017 the agency approved just over 5,600 individual loans, a number that fell to just under 3,900 in the year 2020.
But an active outreach effort on the SBA's behalf in the past two years has seen the numbers jump from around 5,200 in 2021 to just over 7,300 this year.
In a statement, Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA Administrator, remarked that "America's more than five million Latino-owned businesses create jobs, deliver over $800 billion to our economy every year, and add to our nation's competitiveness."
The share of Latino-owned business loans, when compared with all SBA loans, has increased as well, jumping from 8.2% in 2017 to 12.2% this year.
Two SBA loan programs have proven particularly useful for Latino businesses: the 7(a) Loan offering, which provides guarantees to lenders supporting financing to small businesses for working capital.
A second initiative, the 504 Loan program, provides long-term, fixed-rate financing of up to $5.5 million for major fixed asset purchases by small businesses.
According to Census Bureau figures, the states with the largest percentage of Latino-owned businesses are all located in the Southwest, with New Mexico, at more than 15%, leading the way.
Texas is a solid second with just under 12% of its businesses being Latino-owned, while the number of Latino-owned businesses in Arizona and Nevada stands at around 6%.
In announcing the increased government loans for Latino-owned businesses, an SBA release also noted that a current small business boom has seen the "fastest creation rate of Hispanic owned businesses in more than a decade--over 20% faster than pre-pandemic levels."
By Garry Boulard
New federal funding is expected to greatly accelerate a move on behalf of Arizona State University to build a comprehensive, high-tech microelectronics hub.
The Department of Defense has announced that it is awarding the $39.8 million in funding for the construction of what is being called the "Southeast Advanced Prototyping Hub."
The facility, according to ASU sources, will be designed to house the latest research in such areas as cellular communications, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence hardware.
In a statement, ASU President Michael Crow said the new hub will be the "first major national security-oriented research and development laboratory ever built in the state of Arizona."
The project is one of eight such hubs slated to be built on the campuses of eight different institutions of higher learning across the country, with the research at each hub devoted to advancing the Defense Department's technical capabilities.
The hubs, said Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, "will tackle many challenges relevant to the Department of Defense's missions, to get the most cutting-edge microchips into systems our troops use every day."
Among those systems, continued Hicks, are "ships, planes, tanks, long-range munitions, communications gear, sensors and much more."
Roughly $238 million in funding for the hubs projects is coming out the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act, which was passed by Congress last summer.
Arizona State University was always thought to be in the running for Defense Department hub funding, both because of its reputation as a cutting-edge research institute and its location.
Earlier this year, Sally Morton, executive vice president of the school's Knowledge Enterprise program, remarked during a campus workshop that the Southwest is "already one of the nation's key centers for microelectronics activity."
"It's home to some of the leading semiconductor producers and suppliers, major defense contractors, world-class universities and research institutes, and a vibrant startup community," added Morton.
By Garry Boulard
Colorado Springs may soon see the construction of a new mixed-use development on the west side of the city.
The project belongs to the development company Mesa Land 1031 LLC and will see the transformation of a 29-acre site at the southeast corner of Centennial Boulevard and West Fillmore Street.
In rezoning plans now approved by members of the Colorado Springs City Council, the project is calling for a combination of multi-family housing and office space on some 13 acres of the site; with 8 acres left open for open space; and 7.7 acres for the construction of a church.
The project will go up just to the east of the Floyd K. Lindstrom Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic in the 3100 block of Centennial Boulevard.
In studying the rezoning request, councilman Brian Risley voiced his approval of a what is officially regarded as an infill project: "What I see now is an empty lot that isn't serving our city in any form or fashion," he remarked.
Last month a staff report submitted to the City Planning Commission determined that a rezoning of the property in question is "compatible with the surrounding mix of uses which consists of commercial, office, medical office, single family and multi-family."
To be built in the Mesa Highlands section of Colorado Springs, the official final development plans for the project now need to go before the Planning Commission, with yet another city council meeting casting a final vote on the matter.
By Garry Boulard
New National League of Cities Tracking Service Shows Range of Federally Funded Infrastructure Projects
Nearly 1,700 individual infrastructure projects, with a cumulative funding value of around $13 billion, have been undertaken as part of the massive Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
According to a new tracking service offered by the National League of Cities roughly 41% of all of the funded projects have centered on road and bridge work, with a significantly smaller 14% going for airport facility work.
Another 13% of the funded projects have centered on clean energy endeavors, while 7% have gone to public transportation work.
In a statement, Clarence Anthony, chief executive officer of the NLC, said that even though his organization has for years lobbied for greater federal infrastructure project funding, it has only been recently that “we’re now seeing that work become reality.”
The NLC tracking service also shows that just under 8% of federal funding has gone for environmental remediation projects, with a smaller 7.1% targeting safety projects.
The group’s tracking also shows the regional disbursement of funded projects, with the Midwest overwhelmingly, at 17%, receiving the most support for road and bridge projects. The amount of funding going to projects in the Northeast, South, and West has varied between 7% and 9%.
Arizona has received funding for more than two dozen individual projects, with the largest being the $25 million for road and bridge work undertaken by the City of Phoenix. Colorado has received funding for just over 40 projects, with $60 million going to a Denver International Airport terminal project.
Two dozen projects to date have received funding in New Mexico. Largest for the Land of Enchantment: $25 million for the building of the Uptown Connect transit plaza in Albuquerque.
By Garry Boulard
A high-rise hotel proposal that has been in the talking and planning stage for around 5 years may soon become reality in downtown Phoenix.
The Scottsdale-based company Sunbelt Holdings wants to build what will be called The Edith at the intersection of Central Avenue and Adams Street.
At an estimated cost of $140 million, the 17-story project will include 236 luxury rooms and 14 suites, along with some 23,000 square feet of meeting space. Early reports indicate that The Edith will also feature a rooftop pool and bar, fitness center, and ground-floor restaurant and café space.
Sunbelt Holdings is taking on the project in conjunction with BB Hotels & Resorts, also of Scottsdale. The global firm of Gensler, which has offices in Phoenix, has signed on as project architect.
The project was initially proposed and subsequently approved by the Phoenix City Council in 2018 but was delayed due to the Covid 29 outbreak and concerns regarding the durability of the local hospitality industry.
Now, two years since the pandemic’s decline in the fall of 2021, the interested parties have decided that there is indeed a market in Phoenix for a new and significantly large hotel.
Although an exact start date for construction has not yet been announced, reports have indicated that the hotel is expected to be open for business by late 2025.
The site for the project has in recent years served as a parking lot, but was formerly the home to Switzer’s Style Shop, the first retailer in Phoenix history to specialize in women’s clothing. After the store, eventually part of a chain, was sold to a national clothing company, the building was demolished.
Launched in 1979, Sunbelt Holdings has a diverse portfolio that includes residential, commercial, and mixed-use projects. The company spearheaded the Marina Heights project in Tempe in 2015, thought to be the largest single tenant office development of its kind in Arizona history.
By Garry Boulard
The next step has been taken in development of what is expected to be the largest affordable housing project in the history of Aspen, Colorado.
What is being officially called the Aspen Lumberyard project will see the building of 277 affordable homes built within an 11-acre pedestrian-friendly village setting off Colorado State Highway 82, near the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.
The project, which has been long in the talking and planning stage and the subject of a number of public input meetings, places an emphasis on green space, tree-lined sidewalks, and bike paths.
That emphasis allows the project to align with a climate action plan adopted by the City of Aspen in 2017, which has a stated goal of reducing emissions in the city by upwards of 80% in the next three decades.
In a posting discussing the project, Randy Rhoads, the executive director of affordable housing for Cushing Terrell, the planning firm working on the Lumberyard site, said the project’s sustainability emphasis illustrates that it is “possible to achieve these ambitious goals in affordable housing,” while creating “a path to follow for other projects.”
Expected to cost around $450 million to build, the Lumberyard project will feature one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Those units will be housed in three separate buildings. The buildings will additionally feature balconies and ground-level front stoops.
Members of the Aspen City Council have now given their approval to a measure designed to attract a developer and partner to help get the project built.
The project is especially geared for working wage residents living in Aspen who cannot afford the city’s rents: according to a recent Zumper site survey, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the west central Colorado city is now at around $7,000.
By Garry Boulard
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