A sweeping number of street, road, and pathway projects are expected to enter the planning and design phase in the months to come in Mesa, Arizona.
Voters by a 68% to 32% margin earlier this month approved a $100 million general obligation transportation bond called Mesa Moves, which will particularly target road reconstruction efforts as well as improvements and additions to existing biking and walking infrastructure.
As planned, some $93 million will target regional roadway improvements, with $7 million going for the reconstruction of arterial roads.
The bond proposal was the result of a public outreach program conducted by the City of Mesa, with more than six thousand residents offering their input on infrastructure projects they would most like to see become reality.
Two repeated themes in those responses underlined a desire to make certain busy intersections safer, while enhancing the city’s bike and pedestrian network.
That network will see work on shared-use pathways running along the city’s canals and freeways, as well as separated bike lanes.
By Garry Boulard
A new area development plan in Denver foresees the building of larger mixed-use structures, inspired in part by planned future rapid transit construction.
What is officially called the East Area Plan, now approved by members of the Denver City Council, not only allows for taller buildings, but more density.
The East Area Plan specifically focuses on the growing neighborhoods of East Colfax, Hale, Montclair, and South Park Hill.
The larger purpose of the comprehensive plan, which has been the focus of public input for some three years, is to provide more affordable housing in the neighborhoods in question, while also carving out new green spaces.
But an integral part of the plan, according to its proponents, will allow for the construction of taller buildings on East Colfax Avenue, a busy throughway pegged for future mass transit development.
The taller building component, according to the plan, will address trends in the East Area which are pointing to a 30% increase in the section’s population over the next two decades.
Those taller buildings will have to comprise what is being called a “significant community benefit” by offering some affordable housing.
The new plan is also laying out a roadmap for apartment complex developments, as well as the building of accessory dwelling units on all vacant lots.
Noting that the ultimate purpose of the East Area Plan is to greatly reduce displacement, Laura Aldrete, executive director of the city’s community planning and development department, contended that while detractors may say the plan doesn’t go far enough, “it goes as far as a plan can go.”
City officials are anticipating the construction of a center lane-running bus rapid transit corridor along the east to west East Colfax Avenue within the next decade.
By Garry Boulard
Look for the construction and installation of more automatic washbasins, bathroom infrared sensors, and even voice-activated appliances in home design projects next year.
Data collected by the online design resource site Houzz.com reveals a decided demand for more adaptable spaces, as well as designs connecting the indoors with the outdoors.
Notes Better Homes & Gardens: “Everything from the materials we choose to the design of our living spaces is expected to change as we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic.”
The trend is expected to see a greater emphasis on adaptable layouts, with flexible walls built in that can be moved around in order to create larger room spaces as needed.
At same time, notes the magazine Livingetc, the design industry is expected to see a greater emphasis on study hubs offering “the privacy and focus needed for work/schooling with breakout areas that provide much needed separation and relaxation.”
A recent survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects shows the lay of the land: out of a total of 425 member responses, 68% said they were receiving more orders for home office designs.
Those design requests also included the building of sun rooms, yoga and exercise rooms, and enhanced lighting.
Covid design responses are additionally expected to see reengineered ventilation systems as well as wider staircases, and intimate lounge areas.
For some designers, the covid-influenced design trends are essentially hastening a trend that may have been underway some time before the onset of the pandemic.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Wendy Labrum, owner of the Chicago-based Wendy Labrum Interiors, observed: “We’ve thankfully seen a trend away from the cookie-cutter open-concept plan in recent years, and I would suspect the pandemic will only put the nail in that proverbial coffin.”
By Garry Boulard
After months of anticipation, the Arizona Board of Regents has given its approval to the construction of a $115 million multipurpose arena that will belong to Arizona State University.
The approval follows on the heels of an ok from the Regent’s Finance, Capital and Resources Committee earlier this month.
Earlier estimated to be a $120 million project, the arena will have a capacity of 5,000 seats and will serve as the home to the Sun Devils hockey team. The building of hardwood flooring in the arena will also allow for the facility to be also used for wrestling, volleyball, and gymnastics.
The 180,000 square foot arena will go up on the school’s Tempe campus, off of South Packard Drive and just to the east of the existing 14,000-seat Desert Financial Arena.
Additionally included in the project: event-level premium club seats, two group suites, and nearly two dozen private suites.
ASU has been contemplating construction of a new arena for several years, with design proposals on the project reviewed in the spring of 2019.
If all goes according to plan, work on the big facility should launch early next year, with a completion date of late 2022.
Until then, the Sun Devils will continue to play in the nearby Oceanside Ice Arena.
By Garry Boulard
The federal Energy Information Administration is reporting that overall liquefied gas exports last month were “above pre-Covid” levels, and at their highest level since 2016.
The EIA, which analyses energy information trends as part of the Department of Energy, is also forecasting a substantial 31% increase in liquefied gas exports from the U.S. in 2021.
The EIA forecast comes as Dodge Data & Analytics is reporting a 35% jump in construction activity next year for utilities and gas plant projects, led by groundbreakings that are expected on several large liquefied gas export facilities.
The multi-billion dollar liquefied natural gas industry has in general been enjoying boom times now for most of the last decade, with the number of new plants growing from just over 120 in 2010 to nearly 160 last year.
Such facilities, notes the Engineering News Record, have become more popular as pipelines have become more difficult to build.
A liquefied natural gas facility, continues the publication, “can be built near a pipeline, and utilities and industries can move the liquefied natural gas to a facility by truck.”
Greatly contributing to the industry’s market is foreign demand: work has now started on a new $1.9 billion liquefied natural gas facility belonging to Sempra Energy on the Pacific Coast of Baja California.
Upon completion, the natural gas from the Sempra operation will be sent by cargo ships to markets in Asia.
Plans are also underway for a new $450 million facility in southern New Jersey, across the Delaware River, which will send liquefied natural gas to ports in Mexico and Europe.
Meanwhile, the Arlington, Virginia-based Venture Global has announced plans to build an $8.5 billion facility Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
Currently, the largest export markets for liquefied natural gas from the U.S. are South Korea, Japan, and Spain.
In its newest liquefied natural gas export forecast, the Energy Information Administration cautioned that while it expected exports to rise substantially next year, the forecast “remains subject to heightened levels of uncertainty because responses to Covid-19 continue to evolve.”
By Garry Boulard
A proposal calling for the construction of a pedestrian bridge over a series of railroad tracks in downtown Albuquerque has advanced to the city’s Development Commission.
What is being called the Springer Square Sky Link will see a sleek and modern bridge for foot traffic built between the Albuquerque Convention Center and a space called Springer Square, which is dominated by the historic brick Springer Building.
As proposed by the Albuquerque boutique development company Zydeco 66, the project will also relocate existing parking spaces into a larger parking structure, and in so doing will connect employees working in Springer Square offices with the secured parking structure.
Railroad track pedestrian bridge crossings are increasingly being seen as efficient foot traffic alternatives primarily in urban areas, with recent structures either planned or going up in such cities as Chicago, Portland, and Boston.
According to city documents, the Springer Square Sky Link, also providing new parking space, will open up space for “additional mixed-use developments that may include residential, retail, and hospitality.”
With an estimated total construction cost of $9.6 million, the project is seeking a $1 million grant via the Albuquerque Development Commission.
If all of the funding for the project can be secured, work on the Springer Square Sky Link could begin in late 2021, with a rough completion date of late 2022.
By Garry Boulard
One of the world’s leading streaming entertainment services has announced plans to significantly expand its footprint in Albuquerque.
Netflix Incorporated says it will invest up to $150 million in capital expenditures to add to its existing facilities in the city’s Mesa Del Sol neighborhood.
Two years ago, to much fanfare, Netflix purchased Albuquerque Studios, subsequently spending up to $200 million in metro Albuquerque and larger New Mexico.
With the new expansion, adding some 300 acres to Netflix’s current Albuquerque operations, the company’s studios will become one of the largest film and TV production facilities in the country.
The expansion project will see the building of any number of backlots, production offices, and training facilities, along with ten stages.
In a statement, Ted Sarandos, co-chief executive officer of Netflix, noted that one of the reasons for the company’s renewed commitment to the Land of Enchantment is the state’s “outstanding production and business environment in close proximity to Los Angeles, with some of the best crews and creative talent in the world.”
To help secure the expansion project, the State of New Mexico has agreed to put up around $17 million in Local Economic Development Act funding. Another $3 million is coming through the city’s local economic development funds.
The City of Albuquerque has additionally promised to issue an Industrial Revenue Bond to be used over a two-decade period for the abatement of property and other taxes.
Netflix’s Albuquerque facilities have been noticed within the industry for the pace of its work since the 2018 purchase. Current projects include the film The Harder They Fall and the Intrusion television series.
The company says it wants to start work, perhaps early next year, on the series Stranger Things.
With more than 195 paid subscribers, Netflix has become a formidable market presence offering TV series, movies, and documentaries.
The company additionally operates production facilities in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York, among other locations.
By Garry Boulard
What couldn’t be achieved in the weeks before the presidential election may become reality before Christmas as President-elect Joe Biden appears ready to push for Congressional passage of new stimulus legislation.
Earlier this fall Democrat and Republican Congressional leaders were unable to agree on a spending bill ranging in size from $500 billion to $2 trillion.
But, according to sources, Biden has expressed concerns that the country could be facing a recessionary economy in 2021, thus making the need for a new stimulus bill more pressing.
Many of Biden’s top economic advisers, according to the New York Times, are particularly worried about a “wave of evictions and foreclosures” requiring “more urgent action before year’s end.”
That action may see a Democrat proposal smaller than the $2 trillion earlier proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
There are also indications that Biden, upon taking office, may issue a series of executive orders deferring student loan payments and extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
The Biden team has said that new stimulus legislation is particularly needed because of a wave of lockdowns in response to a recent spike in Covid-19 deaths.
The initial pandemic stimulus legislation passed by Congress resulted in more than 160 million Americans receiving a check of at least $1,200 from the Treasury Department last spring.
For his part, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is open to new stimulus legislation sooner rather than later.
Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell remarked: “We want to reach agreement on all areas where compromise is well within reach, send hundreds of billions of dollars to urgent and uncontroversial programs, and let Washington argue over the rest later.”
By Garry Boulard
Work could begin before next spring on a 50,000 square-foot building that will be part of a larger phased-in office complex development in Colorado Springs.
As proposed by the Denver-based Flywheel Capital, a privately held commercial real estate investment company, the structure will go up inside the Colorado Spring Airport’s growing Peak Innovation Park.
Flywheel envisions an eventual complex with around 210,000 square feet of Class A office space on a 22-acre site.
Work on the first initial office structure is expected to be completed by the late summer of next year, with the overall larger complex wrapping in 2023.
Flywheel in recent months has purchased the 73,000 square foot Park Centre Business Park in Westminster, as well as The Cameron, a 362-unit apartment community in Denver.
The Peak Innovation Park will feature structures not built for a particular tenant, but most likely appealing to area aerospace companies and defense contractors.
Flywheel officials have said they are bullish regarding the future of office construction in the area, particularly after a Covid-19 vaccine proves successful and a demand for new office space makes itself known.
The larger Peak Innovation Park measures around 900 acres and is located at the entrance to the Colorado Springs Airport.
By Garry Boulard
Plans continue to advance for the construction of a large high-rise set to go up in downtown Tucson that will include apartment, office, and retail space.
The project is slated for construction at a currently vacant site at 75 E. Broadway Boulevard and is being developed Tucson Group Holdings.
As planned, the structure will have nearly 14,000 square feet of retail space. Part of that space will be taken up by a CVS outlet, which will comprise 9,800 square feet.
Just under 18,000 square feet of flex space will be built into the building’s second floor, with three floors devoted to offices.
The remaining upper levels of the floor will see apartment spaces of varying sizes.
Also included in the project, which is being called 75 Broadway: a pedestrian alley slicing through the middle of the block with retail, restaurant, and bar space.
Plans for the big project have already been submitted to the City of Tucson.
The site was formerly the home of the 3-story Roskruge Hotel, which was built in 1924, but demolished just over six decades later in 1984.
Work could begin on the new mixed-use sometime next year, with a general completion date of 2024.
By Garry Boulard
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