A project that will see the construction of both a teeming entertainment district as well as a technology park on the main Albuquerque campus of the University of New Mexico is taking an important step forward.
The school’s board of regents last month gave their approval to a master development agreement that will see construction of the entertainment district and park on the university’s south campus.
Now members of the Albuquerque City Council have voted in favor of authorizing the creation of a tax-increment development district that will be used to fund some of the project.
Such districts are commonly created for gross receipts and property tax revenues purposes that are, in turn, applied to a project’s infrastructure construction expenses.
The entertainment district/technology park project has been in the talking and planning stage for several years. As proposed, the entertainment district, to be built near the intersection of University Boulevard and Avenido Cesar Chavez, will see the construction of retail space, as well as restaurants and bars.
The 90-acre site will also see the building of a science and technology research center.
Spearheaded by the UNM’s Lobo Development Corporation, the entertainment district has been described as an “active, retail-centric community experience.”
By Garry Boulard
As the big ports of Los Angeles and New York continue to grapple with a logjam of cargo ships, which is have an impact on store supplies nationally, ports elsewhere in the country say they may be able to step into the breach.
In Florida, Governor Ronald DeSantis has announced that the Ports of Jacksonville and Miami, among other locations, can handle an increase in new tonnage.
If the problem is one of ships “sitting off the coast somewhere else and they can be rerouted here and we can get those shelves stocked, then we want to be part of that solution,” DeSantis remarked during a visit to the Jacksonville port.
Officials with the Port of New Orleans are reaching out to both importers and ocean carriers in a move to secure business that might otherwise go to the clogged New York, Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, while adding port tours for new customers interested in the port’s operations on the Mississippi River.
The Port of Virginia, with facilities in Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, has notably increased its imports, with Norfolk seeing a 26% increase in business. “There is no congestion here,” Stephen Edwards, chief executive officer with the Virginia Port, told the publication Freight Waves.
Meanwhile, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have announced a joint policy to fine shipping companies whose cargo containers wait too long at the port’s facilities.
“The terminals are running out of space, and this will make room for the containers sitting on those ships at anchor,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said in a statement.
Ocean carriers will be charged $100 per container per day at Los Angeles and Long Beach in a move to break the logjam of ships at both ports.
By Garry Boulard
The planned construction of a new dental school in El Paso has taken a significant step forward with a vote by the Texas State Legislature appropriating funds for the project.
Lawmakers have given the green light to spending $59.9 million for the construction of a dental school that will belong to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso.
The funding is coming through tuition revenues bonds, which are issued by institutions of higher learning in Texas and annually supported via tuition revenue at those schools.
The legislation, SB 52, was signed into law by Texas Governor George Abbott on October 25.
The new dental at Texas Tech will house both a learning center as well as a clinic and will also offer both primary and pediatric care.
In a statement, Richard Lange, president of Texas Tech at El Paso, noted the ongoing need for advanced dental care that will be provided by the center, remarking that “many people with dental issues also have health issues.”
Being able to treat all such issues in a single location, continued Lange, “makes it convenient for the patients, but more importantly, it coordinates care.”
The new center will be a part of the university’s Wood L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine, which was opened last year.
That school is the first and only one of its kind on the U.S./Mexico border.
Altogether, Texas Tech this month received just over $72 million in state funding for a variety of facilities construction and upgrade projects at its main Lubbock campus, as well as its locations in the cities of Junction and Midland.
By Garry Boulard
Funding has now been secured for a feasibility study that could lead to the creation of a long-awaited rail system in Colorado’s Front Range.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has announced that, with the additional backing of the Colorado Transportation Commission, some $3.9 million is tagged to pay for that study.
As proposed, the rail line would run for just under 175 miles linking Fort Collins to the north with Pueblo in the south.
The system would additionally include stops at Denver and Colorado, as well as several other cities.
State officials have touted the new transit line because, running through the eastern half of the Centennial State, it would also be serving the fastest-growing section of Colorado, an area expected to see a 34% increase in its population by 2040.
The system, which would probably be operated by the railroad passenger service Amtrak in a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation, could cost as much as $2.8 billion to build.
The idea behind the officially named Corridor Development Study will be to provide a projection of the likely number of riders the transit line would serve, while also trying to pinpoint sources of funding for it.
An exact timeline for when the study will begin has not been announced, but sources expect the effort to be underway by the end of this year.
By Garry Boulard
Government mandated rules governing the use of unionized construction labor is unfairly stigmatizing workers who don’t belong to a union, asserts a report released by the Associated Builders and Contractors.
The report also charges that project labor agreements on federally supported construction projects can increase the cost of a given project by anywhere from 12% to 20%.
Describing such agreements as “anti-competitive,” Ben Brubeck, vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs for ABC, added that those same agreements “effectively exclude nearly 9 out of 10 U.S. construction workers who freely choose not to join a union.”
Brubeck, in overview comments on the report, also said that project labor agreements hold “employees’ compensation for ransom unless they join a union, pay union fees and prop up struggling union pension plans.”
Brubeck added that project labor agreements “steer contractors to unionized contractors and workers at the expense of the best quality nonunion contractors and workers.”
Project labor agreements have been used for decades and are essentially collective bargaining agreements establishing conditions and terms of employment on a given construction project with one of several unions.
Labor historians have said that the first significant use of such agreements was seen during the building of the Hoover Dam in the early 1930s.
The AFL-CIO maintains that such agreements ultimately protect taxpayers by “eliminating costly delays due to labor conflicts or shortages of skilled workers.”
Earlier this year the Biden Administration indicated that it wanted to expand the federal government’s use of project labor agreements.
The report referenced by ABC was authored by John McGowan, a former accounting professor at Saint Louis University.
By Garry Boulard
Officials with the Las Cruces Public Schools are anticipating a wide variety of facility construction and upgrade projects, depending upon the fortunes of a $50 million bond to be decided upon by voters next month.
One of the largest items to be funded by the bond will see $11 million going for the building of new maintenance facilities at the current site of the district’s operations annex in the 1500 block of Tashiro Drive.
Kitchen space at both the Highland Elementary School at 4201 Emerald Street and the Lynn Middle School at 950 S. Walnut Street are both slated to be remodeled at a cost of $2.5 million each.
Just under $2 million will target the building of an interior wall at the Zia Middle School at 1300 New Mexico State Road 101, while security updates to nearly a dozen schools, totaling $1.3 million, will go for the building of new fences, safety doors, and the installation of intercom systems.
The bond will additionally provide $350,000 in funding for the construction of a bus loop, also at the Zia Middle School.
Exactly $1 million will go for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance projects throughout the district.
In a sign of the school district’s continued growth, $5.6 million will be partly used to acquire land that may be used for future building projects.
With around 25,000 student and 40 schools, the Las Cruces Public Schools system comprises the second largest district in New Mexico.
By Garry Boulard
A nearly 60-year-old middle school in Anthony, New Mexico, could see renovation work, depending upon the approval of voters in the Gadsden Independent School District.
That district has placed on the November ballot a question asking for passage of a $38 million general obligation bond to upgrade the Gadsden Middle School, which is located at 1301 Washington Street and was built in 1965.
The bond will provide around $11.5 million to renovate the one-story brick school, with additional funding for the project coming through New Mexico’s Public School Capital Outlay Council.
The bond funding will also support ongoing renovation work at the district’s Chaparral Middle School, as well as upgrades to the Chaparral High School.
The Gadsden Independent School District is made up of nearly 30 schools, serving just over 13,000 students. Those schools are located in Anthony, Chaparral, and Sunland Park, among other locations in southern New Mexico.
By Garry Boulard
More than a dozen states across the country saw the addition of new construction jobs last month, according to a new analysis.
Those states are in every region of the nation from West Virginia and North Carolina in the east, to South Dakota in the middle of the country, to Idaho, Utah, and Washington state in the West.
As compiled by the Associated General Contractors of America, the nationwide survey also showed Texas adding 8,900 new construction jobs last month, and Florida up by 6,900 jobs.
Smaller gains were recorded in Connecticut with 1,700 news job, and Delaware, seeing a 700-job gain.
In the West, Arizona picked up 2,500 new construction jobs from August to September; with Colorado reporting an additional 400 new jobs over August. New Mexico, during this same time period, witnessed a loss of 100 jobs.
While the September overall job increases were welcome news, the AGC survey points out that those gains nevertheless took place in only 14 states. Meanwhile, 36 other states last month experienced declines.
In a statement, Ken Simonson, chief economist with the AGC, noted that “construction employment remains below pre-pandemic levels in more than two-thirds of the states.”
Simon pointed to ongoing issues with the international supply chain as well as Congress’ failure to so far pass an infrastructure bill as two reasons why construction employment in so many states remains quiescent.
Looking at the picture from the perspective of the pre-pandemic days of early 2020, the AGC survey ranked Idaho as number one in growth, with a 9.3% increase in construction jobs; followed by Utah, with an 8.2% jump; and South Dakota, up by 8%.
The biggest losers from February 2020 to last month were Louisiana, with a 16.1% decline; followed by Wyoming, off by 15.7%, and New York, down by 11.6%.
By Garry Boulard
Plans have been submitted to the City of Goodyear, Arizona for the building of a an expansive 930-acre master planned community on the south side of the city.
The project, called Terrasante, is being developed by the Phoenix-based RVG Partners and will uniquely include a regional hospital medical center campus comprising some 65 acres.
The larger development, according to plans, could see the construction of just over 2,700 homes.
The medical care campus will include healthcare facilities serving a rapidly growing part of Goodyear to the south of the Gila River.
According to the Census Bureau, Goodyear is one of the fastest growing cities in Arizona, jumping from 18,000 people to over 95,000 in the last two decades.
Long in the planning and talking stage, the master-planned community, on currently vacant land near the Estrella Mountains, could come with an initial $200 million price tag.
Plans for the community include plenty of green space and parks as well as the building of a trail system.
The planned homes, in a suburban neighborhood pattern, will be separated by the large swaths of green space. Future development at the site could also see the construction of an elementary school.
A schedule for when work will begin on the Terrasante project has not yet been announced.
By Garry Boulard
Additional funding has been secured for the construction of an 8-story condo development in a mostly industrial part of Denver’s River North Art District.
As proposed, the structure will house14 one-bedroom units, 27 two-bedroom units, and 8 three-bedroom condos, all to eventually be sold at affordable rates.
Members of the Denver City Council have given their approval to a $2.4 million loan that will come from the city’s Department of Housing Stability to build the project.
It is expected that, in total, it will cost just under $18 million to build the project.
Because the site for the project, near the banks of the South Platte River, is an unusual rectangular-shaped piece of land, the structure housing the units will have a triangular design.
That site was purchased in late 2020 by two entities working with the nonprofit Urban Land Conservancy, which promotes the building of affordable housing in metro Denver.
If the project secures final city approval, work is expected to launch on the Chestnut Place Condos in the first quarter of next year.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox.