Members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee have approved by a 15 to 5 vote a measure designed to provide funding for a growing list of National Park Service facility and maintenance needs.
The Restore Our Parks Act will create what is being called a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund designed to pay for what is estimated to be nearly $12 billion in park facility project work.
The legislation, sponsored by a bi-partisan group of more than forty Senators, would apply 50 percent of all payments for energy development to the backlog work over a period of five years.
“It is a burden we are not addressing, “said Montana Senator Steve Daines of the growing backlog. “We can’t continue to punt on taking care of the deferred maintenance on our national parks.”
An earlier version of the legislation has been approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources on a 36 to 2 vote.
The deferred maintenance within the country’s national park system includes everything from roads, bridges, tunnels, water systems, and campground structures in need of work.
According to a report issued earlier this year by the National Park Service, deferred maintenance needs increased by about $313 million in just the last calendar year alone.
In Arizona the backlog price tag is nearly $532 million. Colorado currently has more than $238 million in needs, while the backlog in New Mexico is just over $123 million.
The Restore Our Parks Act is now being reviewed by the full Senate.
By Garry Boulard
It’s currently a vacant lot, but work could begin sometime next year on the construction of a library especially geared for Albuquerque’s International District.
The facility will go up in the 7600 block of Central Avenue on what was formerly the site of the famous Caravan East Nightclub.
That entertainment venue closed in late 2016, not long before the City of Albuquerque purchased the property with the idea of putting a new library there.
The building housing the nightclub was subsequently demolished.
With a population of around 30,000 people, the International District in southeast Albuquerque was created a decade ago reflecting a unique resident mix of Native Americans and immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, and other places.
City officials have long felt that while the district has restaurants, grocery stores, and other retail space, it has lacked the one facility that often serves as the core of any community: a library.
As proposed, the new full-service library will include space not only for shelves of books, but also a reading room, community meeting space, study rooms, and an adult lounge.
Funding for the project is coming from a variety of sources, including the $5.5 million approved earlier this month by Albuquerque voters as part of a larger $128 million general obligation bond package.
Earlier this year, the project also received $1.9 million in capital outlay funding from the New Mexico State Legislature.
The library, which will be a part of the Public Library for Albuquerque and Bernalillo County system, is slated to go up on the western side of the site, off San Pablo Street.
Planning and the design for the new library is being handled by the Albuquerque-based High Mesa Consulting Group, a firm specializing in surveying, civil engineering, and planning.
By Garry Boulard
Plans have now been approved for the construction of a nearly 4,000 square foot building that will serve as a new Colorado location for the In-N-Out Burger company.
That structure will be built at 9171 E. Westview Road in the city of Lone Tree in central Colorado and is only one facet of the chain’s ambitious plans for the Centennial State.
The Irvine, California-based In-N-Out Burger company is also making plans to build locations in both Colorado Springs, as well as Fort Collins, near the campus of Colorado State University.
The company is additionally putting up a 100,000 square-foot distribution center in Colorado Springs. The project should be completed and operational sometime next summer.
Members of the Lone Tree City Council have now given their approval to the Westview Road project, which will go up on a 1.5-acre site.
According to city documents, the Lone Tree In-N-Out location will have both indoor and outdoor seating space, along with an attached canopy and drive-though lane capable of accommodating around two dozen vehicles at a time.
The building itself will feature a stucco and stone veneer, with a roof made up of terracotta tiles.
The In-N-Out Burger chain currently has more than 350 locations in California, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas.
Two existing structures at the Westview Road site - a Conoco gas station and the Suds Factory Carwash & Detail - will be demolished to make way for the new In-N-Out Burger store.
Work on the new Lone Tree location is scheduled to begin early next year, with an anticipated completion date of fall 2020.
By Garry Boulard
While the latest federal statistics continue to show an overall increase in new home construction nationally, the greatest growth is centered in the South and West.
According to a survey, produced jointly by the federal Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, of the top twenty metro areas this year issuing home building permits, all twenty were in either the South or West.
Looking at the continued growth of homebuilding in the two areas, Forbes magazine remarks: “That may signify population growth in these areas.”
For 2019 the South has comprised nearly 52 percent of all home building permits nationally, even though only 38.1 percent of the national population lives there.
For the West, meanwhile - comprised 24 percent of all new home building permits - the exact same percentage makes up the region’s share of the national population.
Notes the publication Apartment Guide: there have so far this year been more than 401,000 homebuilding permits issued in the South, while the West has seen just over 196,000 permits.
The two regions were closer in the category of average home price, with the South at $194,000, and $212,000 making up the average unit price in the states of the West.
Overall, according to the Census Bureau and HUD figures, there were more than 1.4 million building permits issued nationally, a healthy improvement over the fewer than 600,000 issued in 2009 during the depth of the Great Recession.
October home building additionally saw a 5 percent increase over September, and a significant 14 percent jump compared with October of 2018.
By Garry Boulard
A firefighting academy, which yearly offers up to seven hundred classes, wants to build a new building for the purposes of hands-on training.
Located at 600 Aspen Road in Socorro, the New Mexico Firefighters Training Academy was opened in 1989 with a mission of offering instruction in all areas of fire service.
A Request for Proposals issued by the New Mexico General Services Department is asking for the construction of a roughly 6,300 square foot masonry-built building.
That structure will include a masonry stem wall, concrete slab, fire-rated and coated tiles, and hollow metal doors and frames.
What is called a “burn building” will also feature a mechanical exhaust system, lighting, and drainage inlets connected to an existing reclaimed water drain line.
Designer of the project is the Albuquerque-based NCA Architects, which specializes in schools, courthouses, correctional facilities, and other public structures.
The deadline for the RFP is December 6.
By Garry Boulard
In a move to provide more options for its lower-income residents, the City of Phoenix has issued a Request for Proposals asking for ideas on how to build and/or rehabilitate affordable rental housing.
In a growing city where the average rent today is just a little over $1,100, up by nearly 13 percent over last year, the issue is pressing.
City officials note that while the Phoenix Housing Department currently has available affordable apartments and single-family homes for up to 35,000 residents, another 33,000 are on the waiting list for such space.
Earlier this summer, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announced that the city was launching an effort to find new housing sites in defined Opportunity Zone areas as well as “lands owned by various city departments, such as the airport, to determine if they are ripe for housing development.”
According to reports, an initial goal is to build more than 1,000 new public housing units in the next two years, with work most likely beginning in early 2020.
Deadline for the RFP is February 20.
By Garry Boulard
Leading indicators continue to point to a vibrant national economy, but trade battles, the coming presidential election, and a possible presidential impeachment vote are making many investors nervous.
So concludes a report just issued by the American Institute of Economic Research, which notes that the Gross Domestic Product rose by a marginal 1.9 percent between July and September of this year, slightly down from a 2 percent increase recorded earlier this spring.
“Consumer spending accounted for the entire gain in the gross domestic product in the third quarter as other sectors had small offsetting contributions,” notes the November Business Conditions Monthly report.
The primary source for both consumer spending and consumer confidence remains a resilient labor market, continues the report.
But the picture is anything but rosy. Increasing concerns about trade policy, monetary policy, and immigration policy holds the potential of undermining consumer confidence.
Plus, notes the report, “extreme partisanship in Washington is likely to worsen as impeachment proceedings ramp up and the 2020 election cycle gains momentum.”
All of these factors are contributing to a “heightened degree of uncertainty.”
Even so, for now, the economy continues to be buffeted by new job creation, with the construction industry leading the way with more than 10,000 jobs in the last quarter.
The healthcare and financial industries also posted significant job growth heading into the fall of this year.
The American Institute for Economic Research is based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
By Garry Boulard
A project that will celebrate and explore the role played by Albuquerque as a popular stop along the historic Route 66 trail could see work finally starting sometime next year.
Funding for the planned Route 66 Visitors Center has been secured from a number of sources, including most recently a $128 general obligation bond approved by voters earlier this month.
Of that $128 million, $1 million is slated for the center, set to go up at West Central Avenue and 136th street, at the top of what is known as Nine Mile Hill.
Another $8.3 million is coming from local and state sources.
Altogether, it is thought that it will cost some $12.2 million to build a 21,500 square foot center that will house a museum, event space, commercial kitchen, and taproom.
Other proposed on-site aspects of the project include an amphitheater and neon sign graveyard.
As the project nears a launch date, members of the Bernalillo County Commission have voted to authorize a study designed to explore the center’s tourism and marketing potential.
In approving the study, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year, commission member Debbie O’Malley commented: “This center is a little unique. It does have some venues that do require some public investment, and there are some expectations of revenue.”
Officially launched in the fall of 1926 by the former Bureau of Public Roads, Route 66 stretches nearly 2,600 miles from Chicago to southern California, serving as the country’s first national highway.
While the development, beginning in 1956, of the Interstate Highway System introduced a much more comprehensive network, Route 66 continues to attract drivers looking for a different kind of experience.
“The route is synonymous with freedom and space, street cruisers and easy riders, neon signs and diners,” notes the recently-published book Route 66: The Main Street of America: “In short, the symbol of a nation whose lifestyle is defined by being on the road.”
By Garry Boulard
Built exactly a decade ago, the Placitas Community Library in east central New Mexico is more than just a place filled with books.
It is also a busy community center where residents in the town of Placitas, with a population of just under 5,000, gather for any number of events, including art exhibits, book clubs, and both children and adult reading programs.
For that reason, officials with the library, which was formerly housed in a garage before moving to its current location off New Mexico State Road 453, would like to see a new addition built to the facility that would be designated entirely for meetings.
The proposed addition would measure around 1,300 square feet and will go up on what is currently patio space directly outside the one-story library.
Sandoval County has now issued a Request for Proposals asking for ideas on the project. Submission deadline date is December 18.
It is expected that it will cost just under $1 million to build the expansion. In response, the library has been engaged in an active fundraising campaign for the project.
Earlier this year, members of the New Mexico State Legislature additionally approved $350,000 in capital outlay funding to get the new library space built.
By Garry Boulard
With demand continuing to exceed supply, and the market for higher-end properties increasingly tight, more builders next year may find themselves putting up houses below the $300,000 mark.
According to a study released by the economic research company Capital Economics, homes priced at that amount or less are expected to see their share of the market increase in 2020 over this year.
In its Builders Begin Slow Move Back to Starter Homes report, Capital Economics additionally predicts that such properties, currently comprising around 50 percent of the market, could see their share increase to 55 percent by the end of next year.
“Tight supply of affordable homes and a relatively large increase in their price are encouraging builders back to the starter home sector,” says the report, adding that such homes will also be smaller in size.
The Capital Economics report comes as Forbes magazine is predicting that new home prices next year are expected to rise by about 5.6 percent, up from this year’s increase of 3.5 percent.
The publication notes that the 2019 market has been “one of low wages, high demand and limited supply—particularly on the lower-priced end of the market.”
Today’s largest home-buying sector is made up of Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, followed by Baby Boomers, and Generation X, born between 1964 and 1981.
Looking for better deals, Millennials are also increasingly purchasing houses, or having homes built, in smaller suburban neighborhoods on the far outskirts of the nation’s major metropolitan areas.
By Garry Boulard
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