A large swath of vacant desert land on the rapidly growing east side of Las Cruces is being looked at by city officials for its redevelopment potential.
The property is roughly 2 miles to the east of downtown Las Cruces.
Located near the intersection of E. Lohman Avenue and Paseo de Onate, the roughly 100-acre site has been touted by Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima as a possible future subdivision, complete with walking and biking trails.
Other city officials have suggested that the property, a portion of which once served as a landfill, could be used for commercial development.
A study conducted two years ago by the Albuquerque-based real estate firm Sage Land Solutions described the property as comprised of “Chihuahuan desert vegetation,” but noted also that it had some creosote contamination.
Currently owned by the City of Las Cruces, the site is bordered by suburban neighborhoods to its north and south, and is less than a mile away from the Mountain View Regional Medical Center, at 4311 E. Lohman Avenue.
There is some mostly recent and one-story retail and commercial development to the west of the site.
Public meetings regarding what to do with the site are expected to be conducted in early 2019 by the city’s Community Development Department, which is reaching out to residents of those neighborhoods for their input.
By Garry Boulard
The largest ice cream store chain in the world is on track to build several hundred new outlets in the U.S. next year.
At the same time, the Canton, Massachusetts-based Baskin-Robbins has announced a $100 million plan to upgrade some of its existing stores.
Known for its 31 flavors, designed to provide something new for every day of the month, Baskin-Robbins currently has more than 2,600 locations across the country, not to mention another 5,500 or so stores internationally.
Those stores typically range in size from 600 to 1,200 square feet, and depending upon the location, may include a drive-up window.
The new upgraded locations are being branded as “Moments” stores, and will feature modern designed seating areas, new ice cream dipping cabinets, and colorful interior murals.
In a statement, Jason Maceda, Baskin-Robbins senior vice-president, said the chain’s upgraded spaces are being designed to “help guests create joyful moments with family and friends while enjoying great-tasting ice cream and amazing flavor variety.”
The first “Moments” upgrade was unveiled in late November in Fresno, California. Plans call for the upgrading of more stores across country, although the exact number has not yet been disclosed.
In 2017, Baskin-Robbins saw revenues in excess of $66 million.
By Garry Boulard
In an ongoing effort to reduce the number of wildlife deaths due to collisions with moving vehicles, the Colorado Department of Transportation is making plans for the construction of new animal crossings.
Such crossings, according to statistics, have reduced collisions in the areas where they have been built by up to 86 percent.
CDOT officials are currently monitoring activity at existing animal crossings as part of a process that will result in additional crossing structure construction.
The crossings can take on a variety of shapes and sizes, depending upon the specific location need. Some are simple cement-framed underpasses beneath busy state routes, while others are corrugated metal tunnels.
Fencing on either side of a road or highway are also a part of the projects, serving to help funnel the animals into the crossings.
Another crossing variety is in the form of a bridge built over a road or highway and enhanced with natural landscaping to make the crossing more alluring for animals.
CDOT monitoring of those crossings have so far seen not only deer using them, but bears, coyotes, raccoons, and wolves, among other animals.
Depending upon their size, the cost to build a new animal crossing can be anywhere between $300,000 to $1 million.
There are currently around 30 such crossings of different dimensions and sizes in Colorado.
According to the publication City Lab more than 150,000 animals have been tracked using similar animal overpasses and underpasses during an eight-year period at the Banff National Park in Canada.
By Garry Boulard
While the U.S. has nearly entirely rebounded from its most severe economic downtown since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the country’s poverty rate remains almost unchanged, according to a just-released 5-year demographic study published by the U.S. Census.
What is called the American Community Survey shows that the national poverty rate has declined from 14.9 percent in the last 5-year survey to 14.6 percent in the most recent survey, which covers the years 2013 to 2017.
That poverty rate additionally remains stubbornly higher in counties defined as mostly or completely rural, with rates of 16.3 percent and 17.2 percent respectively.
An age component also defines the rate, according to the survey, with 20.3 percent of those under the age of 20 living at the defined poverty rate in America, versus only 9.3 percent in that ranking who are over the age of 65.
The survey, said Camille Ryan, in a webinar previewing the latest numbers, is the nation’s “most current reliable and accessible data source for local statistics on critical planning topics such as age, children, veterans, commuting, education, income, and employment.”
Ryan is a data products coordinator with the U.S. Census.
The survey looked into more than 35 social, economic, housing, and demographic topics, creating, in the process, some 3.8 million five-year estimates.
Beyond providing a snapshot view of the country’s growth, notes Victoria Velkoff, associate director for Demographics Programs at the Census, the survey is also “our country’s largest source of small estimates for socio-economic and demographic characteristics.”
“Information from the survey,” continued Velkoff in a statement, “generates data that help determine how more than $675 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year.”
Sent out to around 295,000 households on a monthly basis, the survey has been up and running since 2005.
Only naturally, the survey discloses findings that tell Americans much about themselves and where they live, some of which may seem quirky.
By way of example, while 9.4 percent of people living in New Mexico were born outside the U.S., a number just below the national average of 9.5 percent, the number of people in the state, at 33 percent, who speak a language other than English is twice the national average of 15 percent.
The survey shows Colorado as a state of educated people, with 41 percent of its residents having at minimum a bachelor’s degree, the third highest rate in the country.
Arizona, meanwhile, is revealed as a state of new construction growth, with 30.7 percent of its housing units having been built since 2000—the second highest rate in the country.
The newest survey also indicates that while vast majorities of residents across the nation have internet access, some counties are still woefully lacking.
“Low broadband internet subscription rates were found in many counties in the Upper Plains, the Southwest, and South,” notes a Census press release on the survey, adding that the “desert states of Arizona and New Mexico” were notable for containing many counties with low broadband internet subscription rates.
The Census survey makes note of the differences in broadband connectivity between Native American communities and non-Native American communities: “Lack of internet in rural areas was also notable for Native Americans, who had a 67 percent broadband internet subscription rate, compared with an 82 percent rate for non-Native American individuals.”
Internet access also, not surprisingly, closely tracked income patterns: in Douglas County, Colorado, with one of the highest median household incomes in the nation at $110,000 annually, and a poverty rate of 3.6 percent, the internet subscription access rate was 94.6 percent.
Conversely, in Guadalupe County, New Mexico, the poverty rate is 13 percent and only 32.3 percent had an internet subscription.
Overall, the survey indicates that the average completely rural county had a broadband internet subscription rate of 65 percent, compared with mostly urban counties at 75 percent.
The lack of broadband subscription rates on Native American lands, as revealed by the survey, dovetails with a report published several months ago by the U.S. Government Accountability Office called Tribal Broadband.
That report notes an ongoing lack of internet infrastructure on tribal property, and partly concludes by noting that many tribal leaders regarded the federal grant requirements for building such infrastructure to be too complicated and burdensome.
The GAO report recommended that the federal Rural Utilities Service, which administers rural infrastructure programs, should “identify and address regulatory barriers that impeded tribal entities from obtaining RUS funding for broadband deployment.”
By Garry Boulard
A company that already has a long-standing presence near the U.S. and Mexico border has announced plans to expand its footprint with a new manufacturing facility in El Paso.
The Eaton Corporation, which specializes in electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic management technologies, says it will invest more than $15 million in reconverting an existing El Paso facility for its purposes and hiring up to 200 workers.
“We look forward to working with leaders and future employees in the community to deliver high quality electrical distribution equipment to our customers,” Mike Yelton, a senior vice-president with Eaton, said in announcing the new facility.
Eaton, which saw sales in excess of $20 billion last year, is headquartered in Beachwood, Ohio.
The company, which additionally has three manufacturing facilities in Juarez, wants to focus on producing switchboards for large electrical distribution systems and motor-control components in the new El Paso plant.
That plant will come to life inside factory space that was formerly the home of Leviton Manufacturing on the west side of the city.
Leviton, a maker of electrical switches and outlets, left the site more than four years ago.
By Garry Boulard
Almost 75 percent of respondents in a new survey sponsored by the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders say that the country is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis.
Even more, those respondents indicated that the problem is not simply theoretical, but one they are seeing firsthand, saying that the need for new affordable housing exists within their own communities.
More than 2,200 adults were surveyed in a poll that included input from all parts of the country in late November. The results of that survey indicate that a large 68 percent believe housing affordability is an issue in their state, with 54 percent saying it is a matter of concern in their own neighborhoods.
In a statement, Randy Noel, the chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said the survey supports “what builders from across the nation have been warning about—that housing affordability is an increasingly serious problem in communities across America.”
Despite popular conceptions that housing affordability challenges are confined to only urban areas, the survey also revealed that 64 percent said it was a problem in middle class neighborhoods, and 56 percent said the challenge even exists in rural parts of the country.
An earlier study by the association indicated that just under 33 percent of the more than 119 existing households in the U.S. today are currently defined as cost-burdened, with more than 30 percent of income going to housing costs.
Continues Noel: “A mix of regulatory barriers, ill-considered public policy, and challenging market conditions is driving up costs and making it increasingly difficult for builders to produce homes that are affordable to low and moderate-income families.”
The association has pointed out that up to a fourth of the cost of building a single-family home, and just under a third of constructing a multifamily, is absorbed by national, state, and local regulatory requirements.
By Garry Boulard
A Colorado town that has experienced an economic boom due to its casinos will soon see the construction of a hotel that will be built by one of those casinos.
Plans have been announced for the building of a 150-room hotel that will belong to Triple Crown Casinos. That company is both based in Cripple Creek and also operates three casinos there.
The hotel is expected to cost at least $40 million to build and will go up in the vicinity of the Bennett Avenue casinos that are run by Triple Crown.
Reflecting continued visitor growth, the new hotel will be built several blocks away from another hotel, this one also with 150 rooms, that is being built by Full House Resorts, Inc., of Las Vegas.
Work is expected to begin next spring on the new five-story hotel, which will include more than 5,000 square feet of meeting space, a rooftop restaurant, lounge, coffee shop, and fitness center, among other features.
The new hotel, scheduled for completion in the spring of 2020, will be attached to a parking garage already owned by Triple Crown.
In a statement, Larry Hill, chief executive officer of Triple Crown, said the new hotel will “help Cripple Creek take the next step in becoming more of an overnight destination for regional and tourist markets.”
Located 112 miles to the south of Denver, Cripple Creek is a former mining town whose voters approved legalized gambling in 1991, eventually ushering in the opening of more than half a dozen casinos.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the Tucson City Council may provide a final vote of approval later this month to plans calling for the redevelopment of the city’s treasured Benedictine Monastery.
That ornate structure, completed in 1940 and located at 800 N. Country Club Road, was for decades the home to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
But after the remaining sisters moved out of the facility in 2017, the property was purchased for $5.9 million by Tucson developer Ross Rulney.
In a series of public meetings, Rulney has offered his conception of how the 6-acre midtown site should be repurposed.
The plan that will be reviewed and voted upon by the Tucson City Council calls for keeping in place the main monastery structure, which is also distinguished for its Spanish Revival style of architecture, and building residential units around it.
Those units, in three to five-story buildings, would go up on either side of the monastery, as well as to its rear.
An earlier proposal to turn the main monastery building into a boutique hotel appears to have been discarded, while a new proposal may well see the construction of a number of affordable residential units on the site.
By Garry Boulard
Plans have just been announced for the opening of a new Shake Shack location in Boulder, a project that will bring to four the number of outlets the company will have up and running in Colorado.
Based in New York, Shake Shack is one of the fastest growing small restaurant chains in the nation.
Starting out as a single hot dog stand inside Madison Square Garden in 2001, the company currently has more than 200 outlets nationally, up from just over 150 in late 2017.
Plans now call for the chain, which currently has locations in just over 20 states and twelve countries, to more than double its building presence by 2020.
With annual revenues in excess of $358 million, Shake Shack is known primarily for its rich milkshakes, in addition to its hamburgers, hotdogs, and frozen custard.
The company also promotes a dog-friendly policy allowing for customers to bring their four-legged friends with them to the stores’ patios. Dog biscuits are a part of the Shake Shack menu.
The company’s energetic expansion is seen in its opening of new outlets in Illinois, Minnesota, and North Carolina in just the last several weeks.
Besides its soon to be four locations in Colorado, the company also has three outlets in Arizona.
On average, Shake Shack outlets measure anywhere from 3,000 to 3,500 square feet, although some locations have been as large as 5,000 square feet.
Those outlets, built as stand-alone structures, or within existing retail spaces, typically sport a design emphasizing corrugated metal panels, interior wood, large windows, and open kitchen space.
By Garry Boulard
Plans have been underway for some months now to build a new eight-story hotel in downtown Colorado Springs.
The structure would go up in the 400 block of South Tejon Street on a 1.5-acre site that was once the home to an auto repair shop.
Because the more than 50 year-old building that housed that shop is categorized as being in a deteriorating condition, the new hotel may qualify as an urban renewal project.
That, anyway, is what members of the El Paso County Commission have determined, voting in favor of using tax revenue from the hotel, once it’s opened, to pay for necessary utility and street infrastructure at the hotel site itself.
The matter is now on its way to the Colorado Springs City Council for a final vote.
The November commission vote stipulated that El Paso County will return all sales and property tax revenue secured from the new hotel to the City of Colorado Springs’ Urban Renewal Authority for a 12-year period.
After that time expires, the county would then send half of the tax revenue to the renewal authority for another 13 years.
If built, the project, which is being spearheaded by the Olive Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs and Hotel Operation Services, of Monument, Colorado, will be branded as a Marriott hotel.
As planned, the hotel will have 261 rooms, two restaurants, meeting room space, and an underground parking garage with room enough for just over 200 vehicles.
The hotel, which could see construction next year, will be going up in a neighborhood of small retail stores and offices.
By Garry Boulard
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