The site of the former Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, for decades home to the Colorado State Rams, could see new life as an expansive bike park.
The historic stadium, which housed more than 32,000 seats, was demolished in 2018 after the university built a new $220 million on-campus facility. In the years since, various plans for how to repurpose the more than 161-acre site have been aired and often vigorously debated.
The most controversial plan for the site called for developing a mixed-use project with housing, commercial space, and a transit center. That proposal was shot down in 2021 by local voters who approved a measure calling for the site to be officially deemed open space.
Now a new effort is underway to transform a part of the site into what is being described as one of the largest bike parks in the state.
A group called the Fort Collins Bike Park Collective wants to set aside anywhere from 60 to 80 acres to build the park, noting that under the plan the vast majority of the site would remain open space.
The group has created a site saying that the construction of a new bike park would help alleviate congestion at other existing Fort Collins bike parks, while also expanding a “trail system with new options for all ability levels.”
While Fort Collins has long been a bike-friendly city with more than 200 miles of paved cycling paths and lanes, it does not have an abundance of bike parks for more concentrated use.
The project is in keeping with a larger national trend that is seeing such parks, usually featuring defined paths, ramps, pump tracks, jumps, and skills tracks with wooden features being built in both urban and suburban areas.
Noting the increase in such parks across the country, the Washington Post recently remarked that such facilities typically feature “jumps, raised bridges, and other constructed features,” including trails that allow for repetition.
The Fort Collins Bike Park Collective is currently trying to raise public awareness regarding the possibility of building a new bike park at the old Hughes Stadium site, with the hope of soon securing city approval.
That effort may be aided by a measure approved earlier this month by Fort Collins voters asking for a 0.5% sales tax to be applied to the construction and upkeep of parks within the city.
By Garry Boulard
Despite a lack of funding availability, moves to convert empty office space into housing has continued to pick up steam across the country especially in the wake of a new federal initiative push to calling for more such transformations.
Last month four federal agencies, the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation, along with the General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget, came together to push for an increase in office conversions.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that over $35 billion in existing loan funding is available for such projects, noting: "Our intention is to make the most of this opportunity to add more housing near transit in ways that not only reduce the cost of housing, but also reduce the cost of transportation."
In a new study published by the firm Yardi Matrix called National Office Report it is noted that office conversion projects either active or planned have been underway in a host of cities including Boston, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Charlotte, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
But despite the prevalence of the trend, the report notes, problems remain: "The large floor plates found in office towers present logistical challenges."
At the same time, "even a building perfectly suited for a conversion requires significant capital, meaning that interest rate increases, and tight capital markets further limit the pool of opportunities."
Equally problematic, many empty offices exist in central business districts where there are no grocery stores, making those spaces a bit of a hard sell for would-be tenants.
Even so, the Yardi Matrix study notes that the well-known Flatiron Building in New York, which was built in 1902 and is famous for its unique triangular shape, is soon to be converted into luxury condo space.
The Duke Energy Company not long ago sold an 800,000 square-foot structure it owns in Charlotte to the MRP Realty company, which has plans to repurpose the office space in the structure into some 450 apartment units.
Meanwhile, the sale of the 100 East complex in downtown Milwaukee, measuring 435,000 square feet, was announced in September, with plans to convert the space into 350 apartments.
"Conversions are now appearing in nearly every market," reports the Yardi Matrix study.
But noting the dearth of any new significant federal funding to facilitate such projects, which can run into the hundreds of millions, the study adds: "There is still a long way to go before they make a significant impact in the broader office and housing markets."
By Garry Boulard
The City of Albuquerque is moving to put up for sale a more than 32,000 square-foot downtown structure that has had many tenants, but no single long-lasting owner.
Located at 508 First Street NW, the structure decades ago served as an office furniture warehouse before becoming a nude strip club, and finally in the last decade, a youth center.
That youth center, officially called Warehouse 508, became reality in 2009 not long after the City of Albuquerque purchased the building for around $500,000.
Now the city wants to sell the structure, located in an industrial neighborhood populated with other warehouse structures, near the intersection with Marquette Avenue NE.
The structure, sitting on just under half an acre of property, underwent a roughly $800,000 renovation 14 years ago. A recent appraisal pegged the property at $1.3 million.
The city's General Services department has characterized the building as being "not essential for municipal services," paving the way for its listing on the open market.
According to city documents, the building and property have been appraised for a value of $1.3 million.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are now moving forward for the construction of two structures in Avondale, Arizona with a combined square footage of just over 1 million square feet.
The project belongs to the nationally known Ashley Furniture Industries, which is based in Arcadia, Wisconsin, and will go up at the intersection of Interstate 10 and 107th Avenue.
Altogether, the company wants to build a manufacturing and distribution facility, call center, office, and showroom, all designed to establish a presence in the West.
Adam Baugh, a partner with the law firm of Withey Morris Baugh who is representing Ashley in the project, said the project brings with it certain distinct assets.
As quoted in the Phoenix Business Journal, Baugh remarked that the "ability to purchase furniture in the same location it's made is unique and really provides value to the whole West Valley to have a facility like this."
Ashley purchased the site for the project more than two years ago for a reported $32.8 million.
Work on the new facility is expected to launch sometime in 2024.
Founded in 1945, Ashley Furniture is one of the largest home furnishings manufacturer and retailer in the country. In 2022, it posted revenues in excess of $10.3 billion.
The company specializes in everything from living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture to a variety of mattresses and closet systems. Ashley currently has more than 700 retail stores in operation nationally.
By Garry Boulard
More Americans than ever before are using more credit cards for a variety of purchases and getting dangerously close to the cards' spending limits.
That is the conclusion of several new reports noting that, while retail spending this fall has remained healthy, consumers are exhausting their credit cards.
According to a monthly tracking effort conducted by the financial services firm Goldman Sachs, the average 30-day plus credit card delinquency rate rose by 0.16% from September to October.
That 0.16% figure is a big increase over the 0.06% increase that is normally seen in the fall months.
The trend line, suggests the Wall Street Journal, shows that "some Americans' spending habits might not be sustainable, at least when it comes to their cards."
The paper added that some card users appear to be consuming "more of their available credit from month to month--and could hit the wall once those lines are exhausted."
According to consumer debt data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Americans' total credit card balance stood at just over $1.079 trillion in the third quarter of this year. That's up from an earlier record of $1.031 recorded in April to June of this year.
Both sets of figures represent the highest balance levels since the New York Fed began tracking such trends in 1999.
Notes the site Lendingtree: "Credit card balances have risen by $223 billion since the fourth quarter of 2021." In fact, total credit card debt today is now $152 billion higher than the last record reached in the fall of 2019.
The Lendingtree analysis concludes by adding: "Thanks to record interest rates, stubborn inflation, and myriad other economic factors, credit card balances are likely only going to climb, at least in the near future."
By Garry Boulard
Colorado officials are in the throes of organizing a broadband workforce development effort to be centered on pre-construction, construction, and post-construction maintenance work.
The effort, spearheaded by the Colorado Broadband Office, is coming ahead of the estimated $826 million that the Centennial State will soon be receiving through the federal Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment program.
That $826 million is part of a significantly larger $42.5 billion in available funding announced by the White House earlier this summer and designed to build broadband networks across the country.
The federal funding for Colorado dovetails with the state's declared goal of seeing up to 99% of households connected to high-speed internet within the next four years.
Earlier studies have indicated that as of the end of last year, just over 90% of homes and businesses in Colorado were thus connected, a figure that means some 190,000 such entities are still unconnected.
Working with the state's Office of the Future Work, the Colorado Broadband Office has released a document called the Broadband Workforce Plan whose stated goal is to "promote digital equity," while also creating thousands of well-paying jobs.
The document additionally notes: "There is an opportunity to engage younger generations in the telecommunications and construction industry to prepare for the expected retirements of the older workers that make up a significant portion of the workforce."
The document also tackles the question of where, or in what parts of the state, a new broadband workforce will be located. "Given the concentration of the workforce in more metropolitan areas, it is important to consider strategies that engage the rural workforce," while additionally hoping to create a more diverse workforce than a current one which is "predominantly white and male."
The emphasis on just one demographic, the report suggests, "means there are untapped pools of talent that could contribute to reducing the workforce shortages."
As it now stands there are roughly 46,000 workers in Colorado's construction and telecommunications industry who are 55 years of age and above; compared with around 8,400 who are aged between 19 and 24.
Similarly, while around 185,000 workers in those two industries are white, less than 20,000 could be classified as people of color.
It is thought that Colorado's broadband construction efforts in the immediate years to come will see the creation of around 3,600 new jobs.
By Garry Boulard
After a series of reversals stretching back more than two years, an effort to build a new soccer stadium has taken a big step forward via a vote by the Albuquerque City Council.
The New Mexico United soccer team has long pushed for the construction of a modern stadium that could house up to 12,000 seats, accommodating a fan base that has seen at least that number of people coming out to watch the team play at Isotopes Park.
Despite the fact that the ownership of the team had earlier pledged to commit around $10 million to the project, a $50 million bond designed to fund the stadium’s construction was turned down in a roughly two-to-one vote by Albuquerque residents in the fall of 2021.
In the wake of that defeat, the team’s leadership, working with various city officials, have tried to find a new path forward for the project, bolstered by some $13.5 million in capital outlay funds approved by the New Mexico State Legislature.
Now members of the Albuquerque City Council have given their approval to a lease agreement allowing the team to build a stadium at the Balloon Fiesta Park on the northeast side of the city.
The parameters of the agreement will see New Mexico United spending up to $30 million to build the stadium on a 7-acre swath of land. The City, in return, will spend up to $13 million in state funding for upgrade work at the park.
Work on stadium project, which now is expected to have a seating capacity of around 10,000 and has also won the approval of the Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission, is expected to launch in the fall of next year.
Responding to the City Council lease agreement vote, Peter Trevisani, president of New Mexico United, said the new facility will be “for all New Mexicans.”
In a statement, Trevisani continued: “We still have a lot of work to do and are honored to represent our incredible state.”
By Garry Boulard
A trend line is expanding in the final weeks of 2023 seeing the online giant Amazon representing an increasingly larger share of the country’s delivery business.
What makes the trend line all the more remarkable is the fact that as recently as the fall of 2019, Amazon was in third place behind United Parcel Service and the FedEx Corporation.
According to new figures compiled by the Wall Street Journal, the number of parcels delivered by Amazon is nearing the 6 billion mark. The most recent figures available for UPS show it with just over 5.2 billion parcels, with Fed Ex distantly coming in at 3.3 billion parcels.
The trend line is not without some irony, notes the Journal: "A decade ago Amazon was a major customer for UPS and FedEx, and some executives from the incumbents and analysts mocked the notion that it could someday supplant them.”
Now, continues the publication, “Amazon’s outsize growth combined with strategy shifts at FedEx and UPS have changed the balance.”
The company’s initial delivery growth spurt was first observed during the Covid 19 pandemic months. At the end of 2019 Amazon was delivering around 2 billion parcels, roughly even with Fed Ex, but significantly behind UPS at nearly 5 billion.
By 2021, UPS was holding steady at 5.5 billion parcels, but Amazon was now in a solid second place with 4.5 billion parcels, significantly ahead of FedEx’s 3.4 billion.
Obviously, the large number of people confined to their homes during the Covid 19 lockdown, purchasing any number of products from the Amazon website, had much to do with its dramatic growth. But the Journal notes an additional factor: The company in recent years has built out “one of the largest logistics networks in the world.”
Amazon’s expanding delivery infrastructure in recent years has meant building any number of new sorting centers, warehouses, and other logistics facilities across the country.
Amazon’s famous same-day delivery was introduced in 2009, but confined to just seven cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C, Las Vegas, and Seattle. The introduction of the service Amazon Prime in 2015 saw same-day service greatly accelerated by the establishment of nearly 60 delivery hubs nationally.
In 2022, the company unveiled an autonomous mobile robot technology designed to speed up the process of packaging products.
Three months ago, the publication Forbes reported that same-day delivery by Amazon is currently available in some 90 metropolitan areas. But the publication also noted that an ongoing expansion of that service is likely to see a reliance on “smaller warehouses that are closer to customers than traditional Amazon fulfillment centers.”
By Garry Boulard
A project that will see the construction of a $25 million environmental services center in El Paso is moving forward with the purchase of the land needed to build the facility.
Members of the El Paso City Council have given their approval to a proposal calling for the $8.9 million purchase of a currently vacant 24-acre site on the east side of the city.
That site, near the intersection of Joe Battle Boulevard and Pellicano Drive, has been owned for the last three decades by the El Paso-based company Samaniego Joint Venture.
The new modern facility will belong to the city's Environmental Services Department, which is tasked with garbage collection and landfill operations, among other services.
According to plans, the site for the new building will feature a citizen collection center, fueling center, aggregate stockpile area, and heavy equipment fleet service center with a lube shop and tire shop. The main building on the property will include a gymnasium for city employees.
The next step in the project will see inspectors for the city looking over the property sometime between now and mid-January. According to city documents, the site in the past been illegally used for the dumping of trash, construction materials, and tires.
Once that review process is completed, a period of 15 days must elapse before the sale is officially finalized.
By Garry Boulard
Preliminary plans are moving forward for the construction of what could be a massive hyperscale data center on currently vacant desert land on the northeast side of El Paso.
A corporation based in Delaware that goes by the name of Wurldwide LLC has expressed an interest in purchasing just over 1,000 acres of land for the project. According to reports, the company is willing to spend up to $8.5 million for the property.
If the transaction goes through, the company will then launch plans to take on a project said to have a dollar value of around $800 million.
The site is more specifically located off Stan Roberts Sr. Avenue, not far from U.S. Route 54.
Members of the El Paso City Council have now given their tentative approval to an ordinance allowing for the sale of the property in question.
According to city records, an agreement between Wurldwide and the City of El Paso "will make certain real and personal property improvements necessary to establish a data center."
As proposed, the ordinance approved by the council is designed to "contribute to creation and growth of a regional information and data value chain, creating opportunities in highly related sectors and technologies."
As published in the El Paso Times, Wurldwide, which is likely a cover name for another company, put down a deposit of nearly $337,000 more than a year ago to acquire a temporary right of entry to the property in question.
Before a deal between Wurldwide and the City of El Paso can become finalized, a public hearing scheduled for December 4 will be held in council chambers.
By Garry Boulard
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