Work could begin next summer on one of the more unique structures in recent Denver construction history: a 12-story building nearly entirely made of timber.
The project, called “Return to Form,” will go up at 3495 Wynkoop Street in the city’s River North Arts District and will be mostly composed of a series of wood panels glued and laminated together.
As designed by the architectural firm of Tres Birds and developed by Katz Development, both based in Denver, the building will house 84 residential units, varying in size between studios and two bedrooms, with ground floor space made up of a lobby, co-working space, a gym, and café.
Only a small component of the structure, confined to its foundation, stairwell, and elevator core, will be built with cement.
The project is receiving national attention due to its use of timber, which in this case is Douglas fir from the Pacific Northwest.
In a profile of the proposed structure, the publication ArchDaily noted that the “interest in mass timber construction is growing as a sustainable alternative to concrete despite the limitations imposed by some local building codes.”
The website Vox has observed the same trend, remarking that wood is scoring points with designers and builders for two alluring reasons: its “architectural qualities, and potential to help decarbonize the building sector.”
The Return to Form project earlier this year won the 2022 Mass Timber Competition during an American Institute of Architecture conference held in Chicago.
By Garry Boulard
More than $93 million in federal funding is now being made available for minority entrepreneurs to both launch and maintain their businesses.
The grant funding is coming through the Capital Readiness Program under the auspices of the Department of Commerce and is thought to be the largest program of its kind ever administered by the agency.
In a statement, Gina Raimondo, Secretary of the Commerce Department, noted that the program is particularly geared for businesses that endured hardships during the pandemic. “Women and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs were among the hardest hit, often lacking the resources they needed to keep their doors open,” said Raimondo.
By design, the program is intended to provide the tools for minority businesses to access needed capital and funding, while also connecting them to business experts, vendors, and peer support.
The Capital Readiness Program is placing an emphasis on providing advice for minority businesses attempting to receive funding from the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which assists new and growing businesses in traditionally underserved communities.
In a move to provide more information about the credit for would-be applicants, a series of webinars sponsored by the Minority Business Development Agency will be conducted on January 10, 17, and 24.
By Garry Boulard
Work is expected to begin at the end of 2023 on an extensive combined retail, residential, and entertainment district project in the Arizona town of Oro Valley, some 6 miles to the north of Tucson.
The Oro Valley Village Center, which is expected to cost at least $300 million to build, will replace the existing Oro Valley Marketplace at 12155 N Oracle Road, on the northeast side of town, which was built a little over a decade ago.
According to town documents, the project, to be built on a more than 100-acre site, may include up to three hotels with a combined 300 rooms, at least two apartment complexes with more than 700 units, and a splash pad, playground, shade structures, and public park in the development’s central recreation area.
Plans for the ambitious project have been in the works for more than 2 years, a process that has seen a series of public input meetings. Last month, members of the Oro Valley Town Council gave their approval to zoning amendments for the project.
The project belongs to the Tucson-based Town West Realty, which has specialized in office and retail development projects primarily in southern Arizona.
The project is expected to serve a growing Oro Valley population that has jumped in the last 25 years from around 8,000 to nearly 49,000. Forecasts call for the town to surpass the 52,000 mark by the end of this decade.
By Garry Boulard
Preliminary work could launch next year on what will eventually be the construction of nearly 500 gas and oil wells just to the south of Greeley, Colorado.
The more than $1.5 billion project belongs to PDC Energy of Denver and will see the wells built over a period of nearly a decade on just over 33,400 acres.
The project, which has won the approval of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, will also see the construction of a vast network of pipelines. Uniquely, the pipeline infrastructure will move out hydrocarbon-tainted water, crude oil, and natural gas liquids rather than depositing them in storage tanks.
It is PDC Energy’s efforts with this project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution that has earned the company positive notice and led to the unanimous conservation commission approval vote.
According to the Denver Business Journal, the project, officially called the Guanella Comprehensive Area Plan, will improve air quality in an area that is also a part of the northern Front Range simply because it will “replace so many older wells and storage tanks.”
In a statement, Bart Brookman, chief executive officer of PDC Energy, noted that with the company’s ongoing commitment to electrification: “We are well positioned to produce some of the cleanest hydrocarbon molecules in the world from the DJ basin.”
The Denver-Julesburg Basin stretches from just to the south of Denver to southeast Wyoming, and includes western Nebraska and western Kansas.
PDC Energy, formerly known as the Petroleum Development Corporation, was founded in 1969 and has through the decades specialized in the development and production of both natural gas and oil.
By Garry Boulard
National retailers across the country are expected to increasingly experiment with the size and contours of their stores in the coming year.
According to a just-published Forbes essay, Walmart has already tested its traditional format through the building and opening of its smaller Neighborhood Markets. Similarly, the growing Target chain has increased its equally smaller Target Campus store brand.
But at the same time, notes the publication, Target recently revealed plans to invest in larger stores that offer “20,000 more square feet of space than its average store and include new store design features.”
The Forbes essay, penned by business strategist Shelley Kohan, also notes that “many retailers are adding features to support new shopping initiatives such as curbside pick-up, fulfillment from stores, and pick-up-in-store.”
In this category is the Bolingbrook, Illinois-based Ulta Beauty chain’s decision to redesign its outlets with new layouts geared to make it easier for customers to navigate the store’s offerings.
Into the mix of changed retail spaces comes the move toward repurposing and recalibrating existing mall space. By example, the Forbes piece notes the evolution of a project called Gravity in Columbus, Ohio, seeing the development of former retail space - yes, but mixed with offices, restaurants, apartments, and walkable space.
Similarly, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has unveiled plans for a $26 million project bringing together new retail space with high quality housing in downtown Oswego, New York.
Other retail trends to watch in 2023: increasing streaming TV ad space, larger social media participation, and seamless shopping experiences combining everything from live streaming, social media, mobile devices, and in-store experiences.
Kohan also predicts that as Generation Z consumers - those born between 1981 and 1996 - become an increasingly larger market presence, sustainability will become paramount: “Pre-owned products, recycling, and reusing are becoming more mainstream and increasingly expected by consumers.”
By Garry Boulard
Move to Stop the Construction of An Open Space Education Center in Albuquerque to Be Heard in Court
A move on the part of the City of Albuquerque to build an education center in a well-known and popular open space is being challenged in court.
A group called Save the Elena Gallegos is seeking a legal injunction to protect the space, which is located off the 7100 block of Tramway Boulevard and is situated between the Sandia Mountains and the edge of the Rio Grande Valley, encompassing some 70,000 acres.
Within that vast space is the 640-acre Elena Gallegos Open Space park. City officials have said that they are contemplating the construction of an education center partly in response to the yearly foot and bike traffic, which in 2020 saw more than 258,100 visiting the park.
A feasibility study undertaken earlier this year by the architectural firm of Dekker/Perich/Sabatini of Albuquerque suggested the construction of a one-story building measuring around 4,800 square feet. That structure would feature a lobby, offices, classroom space, restrooms, and coffee bar. The addition of a viewing deck would bring the project to an estimated 8,000 square feet.
But the Save the Save the Elena Gallegos group contends that any such construction would be in violation of a four decades-old legal covenant restricting construction in the area to only picnic tables, benches, restrooms, and shelters.
The group, which has secured more than 8,000 signatures protesting the proposed education center, has now officially filed a lawsuit in the 2nd Judicial District Court, with the City of Albuquerque listed as the only defendant.
It is not known when that lawsuit will be heard.
By Garry Boulard
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is scheduled to begin building a portion of a wall in Yuma, Arizona hugging the U.S./ Mexico border.
The project is the result of a settlement reached in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona requiring the dismantling of a shipping container border wall erected several months ago by the State of Arizona.
That wall, with a $95 million price tag, was designed to see the use of up to 3,000 containers covering a 10-mile stretch of the border that includes Yuma.
The dismantling of the container wall, according to the court agreement, must be completed by January 4, and done “so as not to cause damage to the United States’ lands, properties, and natural resources.”
That wall is made up double-stacked containers 22 feet high and weighing 9,000 pounds, with the containers linked together and welded shut.
Litigation has surrounded the project almost from the start with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in October, seeking court approval to complete the work. In early December, it was the U.S Justice Department that went to court, arguing that the container wall was being built without the “required permits or other authorization constitutes unlawful trespasses.”
Ducey earlier maintained that the container wall, which he described as a temporary solution, was filling gaps in the border that were “wide open for dangerous cartel activity and illegal entry into our nation.”
By Garry Boulard
Construction employment logged significant gains in most urban areas across the country, according to just-released figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Those figures show that jobs, comparing November of 2021 to November of this year, were up in 258 out of a total 358 metro areas, comprising 75% of those places.
The job numbers were essentially unchanged in 55 metro areas, with 45 of those areas seeing a decline in construction employment.
According to an analysis of the latest numbers released by the Associated General Contractors of America, big Texas has loomed large with the Houston metro area registering the greatest gains with around 18,500 new jobs, and the Dallas metro area up by 13,500 construction workers.
On the West coast, the Seattle metro area saw an addition of 10,400 new jobs; with the booming Phoenix metro area, which includes growing Mesa and Scottsdale, up by 9,400 jobs.
Looking at the job trends as percentages, the AGC analysis shows the Provo-Orem, Utah metro area leading the nation with a 23% gain. The Utah numbers were followed by 15% gains in four cities: Anchorage, Alaska; Kankakee, Illinois; Grants Pass, Oregon; and Providence, Rhode Island.
On the downside: the Orlando metro area, with an 10% decline in construction employment; Richmond, Virginia, off by 8%; and the Camden, New Jersey metro area, posting a 7% decline.
Notes the AGC analysis: “Demand for construction remained relatively strong in many parts of the country, buoyed by robust public construction and infrastructure investments and strength in certain types of private sector development.”
But on a cautionary note, contractors in many parts of the country report that they are “not bidding on projects because they do not have enough personnel to perform the work.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans are expected to advance in the months ahead for the construction of a new building on the campus of the University of Denver that will belong to the College of Engineering, Design, and Computing.
That campus, officially known as the Auraria Campus, is located just to the southwest of downtown Denver.
Long in the concept stage, the facility will be five stories tall and measure around 72,000 square feet. To be located on a currently vacant site at the corner of Speer Boulevard and Larimer Street, the building will be the first dedicated structure for the school’s engineering, design, and computing program.
Plans for the project were originally announced 2021. Early this fall, CU Denver submitted concept plans for the structure to the City of Denver.
As envisioned, the building will be a part of a planned innovation district on the school’s campus. That district, as described in a news release from CU Denver, will be designed as a “vibrant, open-access hub of intellectual and creative vigor” with walking space and “nature living laboratories.”
Both the innovation district and new engineering, design, and computing building is a part of the larger CU Denver’s 2030 strategic plan, which is partly geared toward greater workforce education offerings.
CU Denver officials have said that the facility will consolidate “many physically disconnected spaces,” noting that the school’s engineering classes are currently housed in seven different buildings.
Construction on the new building is expected to launch in April.
By Garry Boulard
A move is underway on the part of the City of Colorado Springs to build a new senior center at the site of an existing senior facility.
The one-story Colorado Springs Senior Center, which has been in operation since the 1970s, is located at 1514 N. Hancock Avenue and is a part of the larger Golf Acres Shopping Center.
City officials have said that the center, which offers food for seniors, as well as a wide variety of recreational and informational programs, is too small for current purposes and would like to demolish that structure as well as a row of retail spaces adjacent to the building.
In so doing, the site, some two miles to the northeast of downtown Colorado Springs, would be freed for the construction of a new 25,000 square foot building, roughly 8,000 square feet larger than the current facility.
It is thought that it will cost around $8 million to build the new structure, with funding coming through the American Rescue Plan Act.
According to city documents, planning for the project, with any number of public input meetings, will continue well into this coming spring. Actual construction is slated to start in the summer.
A general completion date has been announced for the spring or summer of 2025.
By Garry Boulard
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