Congress is considering legislation that would include a tax deduction for the construction of energy-efficient commercial and multifamily structures.
The bill, just recently the subject of negotiations between White House officials and Congressional leaders, largely provides for the extension of tax credits related to home purchases and mortgages into 2020.
Those credits were initially phased out at the end of 2017.
The energy efficiency component of the legislation will provide for a deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for any commercial or multifamily structure exceeding energy efficiency requirements.
The legislation has won the support of the National Association of Home Builders, while the American Council on Renewable Energy criticized the bill for not doing more to promote renewable energy.
“Given bipartisan support for tax incentives for energy storage, offshore wind, electric vehicles, and other critical clean energy priorities, this outcome is deeply disappointing,” Gregory Wetstone, chief executive officer of ACORE, said in a statement.
The legislation is currently awaiting a final vote in the Senate.
By Garry Boulard
Kirtland Air Force Base, on the southeast side of Albuquerque, is poised to see new construction with the passage of the massive National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.
That $738 million legislation includes $15.5 million to build the Combat Rescue Helicopter Simulator Facility at Kirtland.
That long-planned facility will be specifically designed to house the equipment used by the 58th Special Operations Wing, including the new HH-60W simulators.
Also in line for work at Kirtland: a UH-1 replacement facility designed to house simulators used for flight crew training.
The UH-1 replacement aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the 58th Operations Wing by the end of the 2022.
Funding for the Kirtland projects was earlier this year at risk when the appropriation was diverted to pay for a part of the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The bill, now passed by both the House and Senate, has restored that funding.
In a statement, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich said the defense bill provides “major investments to ensure our Armed Forces are equipped with the most modern technology so we can stay ahead of our adversaries.”
The full Senate has approved the defense authorization legislation on an 86 to 8 vote. It is now awaiting President Trump’s signature.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the Bernalillo County Commission have voted in favor of committing $1 million to help launch the second phase construction of the Mesa del Sol Regional Outdoor Sports Complex on the south side of Albuquerque.
Work on the first phase of the big project, which will ultimately see the construction of 32 athletic fields, is already underway.
Besides building ten new fields, the phase two work will also see the construction of parking space, roadways, landscaping, and common areas.
Another fourteen fields are slated to be built during the project’s phase three. Those fields will be especially designed for cricket, football, rugby and cross country teams.
The Bernalillo commission vote comes after that same body had approved an earlier $1 million for the first phase construction. That funding came from a combination of money from the county’s general fund, general obligation bonds, and state capital outlay from 2016 and 2018.
In lauding the most recent commission vote, member Maggie Hart Stebbins predicted that the completion of the project will see a complex providing “young athletes from around the country better access to competitive soccer and football facilities.”
Stebbins added that the complex will also give “the country, the city, and the state a state-of-the-art facility to attract large scale regional and national tournaments.”
Bernalillo County officials have also recently disclosed that they will be asking the New Mexico State Legislature next month for $5 million in additional capital outlay funding for the complex.
By Garry Boulard
Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality are all high-tech and highly-developed tools that are expected to enjoy increased use by contractors and builders next year, according to a new report.
The publication Interesting Engineering is positing that the use of such tools can only increase due to the simple fact that “buildings are becoming ever more complicated, and these technologies are helping architects and construction teams improve designs and detect design errors.”
Virtual reality uses 3D modeling and visualization techniques as a regular part of the design process. For architects, builders, and engineers, it means seeing a given project in 3D as a means of understanding how it works.
Augmented reality is a copied view of real world environments where the elements are segmented by a computer-generated sensory input. In essence, this technology takes the real world and adds to it with a 3-D model of an architect’s design.
Mixed reality blends real world with the virtual world with the goal of creating an environment where both the physical and digital segments can interact. The “mixed” part comes with blending the real and virtual worlds through immersive technology.
Not only does such advanced technology help designers and contractors to get inside a building, but it allows clients to explore designs more fully before construction and, perhaps most importantly, provide a permanent, multi-dimensional record of the building itself.
Adds Interesting Engineering: “To date, architects and design teams greatly improve building design through interactive design and gesture interfacing. 2020 is set to see this technology’s influence on the industry expand even further.”
By Garry Boulard
Work is expected to begin during the first quarter of next year on the building of a 120-room hotel in downtown Colorado Springs.
The project will belong to the Pueblo-based AAA Hotel Developers, one of the most prominent developers of hotels in Colorado.
The new hotel, to go up at the intersection of E. Kiowa Street and Nevada Avenue, will include two restaurants: one on the ground floor and the other on the rooftop.
Additional plans call for the building of a fitness center, indoor swimming pool, and underground parking garage with enough space for 224 vehicles.
Last year the Colorado Springs City Council gave their approval to an ambitious urban renewal plan encompassing just over 80 acres in the downtown area that will include the construction of the new hotel.
AAA Hotel Developers has spearheaded hotel projects in the cities of Brighton, Durango, Golden, Lamar, and Pueblo, among other locations.
The company also redeveloped the more than fifty year-old former Tremont Center at W. Colfax Avenue in downtown Denver, adding three stories to what was a five-story structure, for the building of a hotel branded as a Staybridge Suites.
By Garry Boulard
fast-growing engineering and nuclear energy technology company to locate in albuquerque; expanding existing building
A high-tech company based in Alameda, California has announced plans to establish an engineering center inside the sprawling Mesa del Sol community on the southeast side of Albuquerque.
Kairos Power, founded in 2016, is a company focusing on the delivery of efficient and affordable energy solutions.
The company is currently in the process of developing a means to convert heat from fission into electricity.
In moving into Mesa del Sol, the company will be purchasing an existing building on just over 30 acres of land and is expected in the next several years to invest more than $125 million at the new location, creating up to 65 new jobs in the process.
An expansion of that structure is expected to be built as the company’s needs grow.
In securing Kairos Power’s move to Albuquerque, the New Mexico Economic Development Department is providing the company with up to $4 million in Local Economic Development Act funding.
That $4 million includes a $1 million bonus owing to the Mesa del Sol location in a defined Opportunity Zone.
Another $1 million in LEDA funding has been made available by the City of Albuquerque for the project.
According to a press release issued by the New Mexico Economic Department, the company has also applied for an Industrial Revenue Bond which will fund the $125 million in building and land acquisition, as well as future construction.
In a statement, Mike Laufer, chief executive officer of Kairos Power, said the new Mesa del Sol location will “allow us to expand our engineering research and development program in support of our mission to enable the world’s transition to clean energy.”
The company, on its website, said its new Mesa del Sol facility will be designed to “test our high-temperature salt technology, which continues, enhances, and expands the work we’re currently focused on at our headquarters and R&D lab in California.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans have been announced for the construction of a neighborhood in Tempe, Arizona that will have apartment buildings, commercial structures, and green space - everything making up a typical American neighborhood, except accommodations for cars.
The project is being developed by a company called Culdesac, which says the $140 million effort will be a first-wave prototype of what future car-less communities across the country may look like.
Based in San Francisco, Culdesac is dedicated to the idea that the community of the future will be a place where transportation needs are handled by everything from bikes and scooters, to ridesharing and light rail.
“Culdesac is building spaces for the post-car era,” Ryan Johnson, the company’s chief executive officer, was recently quoted in the publication Smart Cities World.
Johnson added that the Tempe project will allow residents to “live life from their doorsteps, rather than seeing it through their windshields.”
The project, officially called Culdesac Tempe, will see the construction of around 600 apartment units as well as 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
The 16-acre site chosen for the new development will also see the construction of a grocery store, coffee shop, and co-working space.
Culdesac officials say they are actively reviewing sites in other cities across the country, including Denver, to develop and build similar neighborhoods.
Culdesac Tempe will go up on the east side of Tempe, near the intersection of Apache Boulevard and River Road.
By Garry Boulard
Exactly $10 million in funding has been awarded to four separate programs by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to spur both homebuilding and homeownership nationally.
The funding is coming from HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, otherwise known as SHOP, and is designed to support local non-profit efforts to build new homes.
The Las Cruces-based Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation is receiving just over $2.1 million in grant funding through the program to provide new home-building opportunities in what are described as distressed and underserved communities.
Other SHOP recipients include the Atlanta-based Habitat for Humanity International, which is receiving more than $5.4 million in funding; the Washington-based Housing Assistance Council; and Community Frameworks of Spokane, Washington.
In a statement, David Woll, Jr., assistant secretary for community planning and development with HUD, said the recipient organizations are all “making a positive impact in communities across the country through strong partnerships they have formed between the public and private sectors.”
The Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation was launched in 1973 with a mission of improving the quality of life for low-income residents through affordable housing.
The SHOP funding for the Tierra del Sol group is expected to result in the construction of around 119 residential units.
By Garry Boulard
As yet another sign that important changes are on the way, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and members of the Santa Fe City Council have approved a resolution that could directly impact the fortunes of the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus.
That 64-acre chunk of land has been largely abandoned since the summer of 2018 when, for financial reasons, the school closed its doors.
In the wake of that closing, city officials began a lengthy process of seeking input on what the campus should look like in the future, with responses recently received to a Request for Expressions of Interest that asked for a master developer to oversee the redevelopment of the campus.
To help spur that future redevelopment, Mayor Webber and the council members have given their approval to a resolution asking the New Mexico State Legislature to provide capital outlay funding to the tune of more than $23 million for a variety of city building and infrastructure projects.
But one of the largest requests, at $3 million, is for the planning, design, and infrastructure of what is now being called the Midtown Santa Fe campus, which is owned by the city.
The resolution specifically describes the request as “associated with economic development,” and says the $3 million will be used to “support improvements to utilities, trails, and improvements to roadways and digital infrastructure to support redevelopment of Midtown Santa Fe.”
Webber has previously said the potential for the campus is unlimited, remarking earlier this year that in redeveloping the site, “we want to respect the history and tradition of our city. What happens needs to look and feel like Santa Fe.”
By Garry Boulard
Regulatory costs have fallen by $50 billion this year, and are expected to see a similar decline in 2020 according to a new report issued by the Council of Economic Advisers.
In response to an executive order signed by President Trump in January 2017, the effort to reduce regulations came after the addition of more than 220,000 new regulations that were issued in the course of the last two decades.
“This new approach to regulation not only reduces or eliminates costly regulations established by prior administrations, but also sharply reduces the rate at which new Federal regulations are promulgated,” notes a statement issued by the Council.
Another sign of the new emphasis is seen with the size of the Federal Register, the official journal of the U.S. government containing all agency rules, which has declined from 97,100 pages in 2016 to 68,800 last year.
The Council says that the emphasis has not been only on reducing the number of regulations, but updating internal governmental regulations to “ensure more uniform and clear guidance development practices, among other updates that promote transparency, cost-benefit analysis, and the rule of the law.”
Looking at the regulatory decline, the publication Fortune says business leaders on the whole have been grateful, adding, “They’d like to see it advance even faster.”
According to a report issued by the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Department of Health and Human Services has led the way in the amount of deregulatory actions thus far enacted, followed by the Department of Labor and Department of Transportation.
By Garry Boulard
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