Construction is expected to begin by next spring on more than 250 residential units that will be a part of the historic Benedictine Monastery property at 800 N. Country Club Road in Tucson.
The Tucson City Council has now given its final approval to what is officially called the Benedictine Monastery Planned Area Development, a blueprint that will allow for the building of the new units, surrounding the main iconic Benedictine cathedral.
Built in 1940, the Benedictine Sanctuary and Covenant of Perpetual Adoration was for decades the home to fifty of so Sisters, a number that had declined to less than a dozen three years ago when the monastery’s board of advisors decided to sell the property.
Tucson developer Ross Rulney shortly purchased the 6-acre site, adding an additional adjacent one acre to the property later.
In a series of neighborhood outreach meetings, Rulney said his plans for the site included building three, four, and five-story buildings that would be designed to surround the cathedral.
Rulney’s plans have also included building roughly 10,000 square feet of commercial space, along with a parking garage with room for up to 250 vehicles.
The developer has promised to maintain the Spanish Colonial Revival-style cathedral, on a site lined with stately palm trees.
Work mixing the new with the historic is expected to be completed by the summer of 2021.
By Garry Boulard
After months of Congressional studies and debate, legislation providing for the funding of a wide array of transportation construction and upgrading project has passed both the House and Senate.
The measure, as part of a larger $738 million spending bill, has since been signed into law by President Trump.
As approved, the legislation will provide some $1 billion in funding for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, grants. That funding marks a significant increase from the $475 million in fiscal year 2019.
Those grants are used to fund any number of road, rail, and port infrastructure projects.
The Department of Transportation will receive $86.2 billion in the new legislation, while the Federal Highway Administration is getting $49.3 billion.
Smaller allotments are pegged for the Federal Aviation Administration, receiving $17.6 billion; the Federal Railroad Administration, which is getting $2.8 billion; and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in line for $989 million.
Notable winners in the legislation: the nation’s ports, securing $225 million for infrastructure improvements that will include upgrades to roads and rails, both inside and connecting to specific port properties.
Smaller railroad companies also scored with the 5-year extension of a tax credit that will allow them to deduct the cost of track maintenance. Such projects will mostly take place on existing rail infrastructure in smaller cities and rural areas.
Roger Wicker, chairman of the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, said the passed legislation will “guarantee strong investments in infrastructure, health, and research that will propel our American economy forward into the next decade.”
By Garry Boulard
A popular all-purpose stadium in Grand Junction, Colorado, built when Harry Truman was president, is about to see significant structural work.
Located at 12th Street and North Avenue on the northeast side of the city, the Suplizio Stadium is the home to the Grand Junction Rockies baseball team and has a 10,000-seat capacity.
The facility underwent extensive renovations in 2012 that included the building of new bleachers, a press box, and the upgrading of the stadium’s mezzanine area.
Now, Grand Junction city officials want to see work done on the much-used seating stairways. That work will additionally include the removal of existing stair treads and landings, as well as the upgrading of X-bracing where identified.
Plans also call for all of the stadium’s seating pans to be refurbished.
The work is scheduled to begin sometime this winter, with a late April completion date.
The stadium, part of the larger 42-acre Lincoln Park, was named in honor of Sam Suplizio, long-time Grand Junction businessman and baseball coach who died in 2006.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are now in the works for renovation and upgrade work to one of the most visually distinctive high schools in the southwest.
Members of the El Paso Independent School District board of trustees have voted to approve $17.5 million in funding for work at the El Paso High School, located at 800 East Schuster Avenue.
That funding will likely include a mix of revenue from a 2016 bond, grant funding, and a capital campaign.
Opened in 1916, the school is known for its neo-classical columns, marble floors, and coffered ceilings.
In 1980, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
District officials say work on the building will include new roofing, foundation support, and a preservation of all building elements.
Concerns about the structural condition of the school have been discussed for several years, but were heightened earlier this fall when a portion of the terra cotta baluster on the second floor broke loose.
Designed by the legendary architectural firm of Trost & Trost, the El Paso High School was listed as one of the “most beautiful public high schools in America” in 2017 by Architectural Digest.
By Garry Boulard
A majority of Colorado construction companies say they are planning to implement more technological changes in their businesses in 2020, although they expect to spend less than 5 percent of their projected revenues on those changes.
In a construction outlook survey just published by the Washington-based Associated General Contractors, construction companies in the Centennial State said they were most likely to increase their use of file-sharing sites and voice-over Internet protocol.
The companies also indicated that they are most interested in using such services as project management software, estimating software, and scheduling software.
But those same companies also said that a further use of technology would not come without challenges, noting the work associated with implementing a new service and training staff to use it.
The same survey showed that contractors doing work in education, retail, and public building projects expressed the most confidence that their project load would increase next year, while companies specializing in power, office, and manufacturing projects expected the least growth.
A large 88 percent of the respondents said they’ve been having a hard time filling positions, a number higher than the 83 percent of companies nationally saying they’ve been challenged by “filling some or all positions.”
An equally large 81 percent of respondents nationally said they were worried about worker quality, with 45 percent indicating that they did not think the challenges of finding qualified workers will improve in 2020.
Noted the AGC in a press release: 75 percent of the firms surveyed expect to hire more workers in 2020. “However, just over half of the firms (52 percent) report their expansion plans will only increase the size of their firm by 10 percent or less.”
The AGC additionally noted that ongoing labor shortages are having an impact on “construction costs and project schedules,” with 42 percent of the responding companies reporting that ongoing staffing challenges have added to the cost of completing projects.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the Albuquerque City Council will soon be tasked with determining the proper zoning designation for a 16-acre site that could be developed for commercial purposes.
The property is located on the northwest side of the city at the corner of Paseo del Norte Boulevard and Kimmick Drive NW.
Two months ago the Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission approved a rezoning of the site, which is currently vacant, opening the way for its future commercial development.
That commission vote was taken after a presentation by the Albuquerque-based Consensus Planning, Inc., a firm specializing in urban design, landscape architecture, and planning. The firm urged the site’s rezoning.
But in response to the commission decision, residents living in the nearby Paradise Hills Civic neighborhood have asked for an appeal of that decision, expressing concerns about the potential building heights of any development at the site, as well as increased traffic in the area.
Those concerns were reflected in a staff report for the commission, noting that a zoning change for the site would “allow more intense, auto-oriented uses such as drive-through facilities and larger retail stores along Paseo del Norte.”
The site has been designated as a Mixed-Use Low Intensity Zone. The commission approved classifying the site as Mixed-Use Medium Intensity Zone.
That new designation allows for moderate-intensity commercial, institutional, residential, and retail uses.
Public comments in opposition to the rezoning have now been taken by a hearing officer for the commission. That officer will then make a recommendation on the matter to the Albuquerque City Council, which will make a final decision.
By Garry Boulard
In a long-running effort to build a modern mental health facility, members of the Las Cruces City Council have approved asking for funding next year from the New Mexico State Legislature.
The requested $5.3 million will be used to purchase land for the facility, as well as paying for its planning, design, and construction.
The funding request is part of a larger $31 million capital outlay package that Las Cruces hopes to see approved by lawmakers when the legislature meets for its one-month session in January.
Other big ticket items include $4.5 million to build a proposed transit facility that will be a part of the state-wide Road Runner network; and $3.5 million to design and build a road leading to the new East Mesa Recreational Complex.
Additionally: $3 million to upgrade an existing skate park at 1600 E. Hadley Avenue, as well as building an entirely new one elsewhere in the city.
City officials have for years wanted to build an inpatient/outpatient mental health facility in Las Cruces, noting that the nearest such service is provided by the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, New Mexico, nearly 350 miles to the northeast.
By Garry Boulard
Roughly 75 percent of responding construction firms in a new survey, conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, are planning to add workers to their payrolls next year.
The report, Strong Demand for Work Amid Stronger Demand for Workers, shows an expected continuing demand for more workers in all segments of the industry, reflecting an overall view of increased projects in 2020.
Of the survey respondents reflecting those segments, water and sewer contractors were the most bullish with roughly 25 percent predicting increased work; followed by bridge and highway, K-12 school, hospital, and transportation contractors, 20 percent of whom are expecting to take on more projects in 2020.
In anticipation of an increased project load, construction companies across the board said they will naturally be taking on more workers in the coming months.
But Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors, warned that the expected project and labor boom comes with a downside, noting that “many construction executives are troubled by labor shortages and the impacts those shortages are having on operations, training and safety programs, and bottom lines.”
The Associated General Contractors survey was done in conjunction with the Atlanta-based Sage Construction and Real Estate.
By Garry Boulard
In an effort to provide more housing options for lower-income residents, Fort Collins may soon see the construction of just under 70 new apartment units.
Those units would go up on land purchased more than a decade ago by the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority at 140 E. Oak Street.
That site for decades was the home to a local Elks Lodge chapter that has since been demolished.
In announcing an intergovernmental agreement with Housing Catalyst, the city’s public housing agency, the Downtown Development Authority said it had not yet determined the final size of the planned new affordable housing project.
Two options, both of which will include retail and commercial space, are on the table: a five-story structure with 66 units, or a four-story building with 49 apartments.
The cost for the smaller structure is estimated at just under $15 million, while the 66-unit project would cost around $23 million to build.
The exact size of the new complex is expected to be announced sometime next year.
Fort Collins officials have increasingly been pushing for more affordable housing options as rents in the northern Colorado city have jumped from around $900 a decade ago to more than $1,500 for a single-room apartment today.
The quest to build new housing in the city’s downtown fits in with the Development Authority’s mission to foster redevelopment in the area.
Since its founding in 1981, the Development Authority has spearheaded the redevelopment of a large number of commercial and office properties within a 783-acre downtown area.
In earlier announcing the purchase of the Elks Lodge property, Matt Robenalt, the Development Authority’s executive director, told the Coloradoan newspaper, “There are not a lot of sites left in downtown, and we are fortunate to be in the position we are to leverage public financing to have an impact on a community need.”
By Garry Boulard
A new 25-story modernistic, glass-walled, luxury apartment complex housing two-bedroom, one-bedroom, and studio units, is expected to see construction begin sometime early next year.
In the talking stage for more than a year, what is being called the Adeline will see the building of 379 units, as well as a swimming pool, clubhouse, and spacious courtyard.
Set to go up on the northwest corner of Jefferson and Third streets, not far from the Talking Stick Resort Arena, the project is being developed by Houston-based real estate firm Hines Interests Limited Partnership, and represents one of the largest residential projects in downtown Phoenix in recent memory.
Plans submitted to the city for the project also envision a complex with a fitness center, community meeting room, conference rooms, and a community kitchen.
Additional features will include a coffee shop, bike storage, and even a dog spa.
In a statement, Chris Anderson, Hines senior manager, noted that the new Phoenix project will be keeping in with the company’s “long tradition of developing iconic luxury multifamily properties in New York, Washington, D.C., and Houston.”
The Adeline, according to city officials, adds to a newly revitalized downtown Phoenix that has seen the opening of more than one hundred restaurants and bars in the last decade.
More than 2,200 new apartment units have also been built, designed to accommodate a downtown population that has increased from around 2,000 two decades ago to more than 13,000 today.
During the same period of time, downtown Phoenix has additionally been the recipient of more than $5.5 billion in both public and private investments in transportation, technology, education, and art projects.
By Garry Boulard
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