Planning is well underway for the renovation of one of the busiest structures on the Tucumcari campus of Mesalands Community College.
The upgrading of what is known as Building A on the east side of the campus will transform a portion of the one-story structure into a student services hub.
The $800,000 project, which has now been given a green light by Mesaland’s board of trustees, will be funded through a state general obligation bond approved by voters last November.
Designed by the architectural firm of Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper, which has offices in Albuquerque, the project will also result in making Building A bathrooms Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
Building A houses the school’s public relations, student affairs, and administrative services offices, among other functions.
School officials have additionally indicated that they would like to see the existing Building A business office transformed into a store, a project that will require additional funding.
Work is expected to begin on the project sometime next year.
With an enrollment of just under 2,000 students, Mesalands Community College is highly regarded for its wind energy technology programs, one of the only such programs of its kind in the country.
By Garry Boulard
A new report is forecasting a 10 percent jump in the use of robots in throughout the U.S. construction industry in the next five years.
Published by Pioneer Reports, which has offices in Los Angeles, Construction Robots Market Report 2019 to 2024 predicts that the total U.S. market value for robots used in the construction industry will increase from a current $220 million to $350 million in 2024.
Such robots are used for everything from 3D printing to remote control rescue and demolition.
A separate study published by the Boulder-based research group Tractica called Construction & Demolition Reports predicts the use of more than 7,000 construction robots nationally by the year 2025, more than twice the number recorded a decade ago.
Both reports come in the wake of a study authored by Borja Garcia de Soto in the magazine Wired who argues that the use of robotics in the construction process is “more than good engineering, it is also smart business.”
The New York University civil engineering professor adds: “By comparing the cost and time spent on human-built walls to walls built by robots, we found that as the level of complexity increases, automation pays off.”
De Soto adds that such robot-built walls allows architects, designers, engineers, and contractors to make more late-stage changes without having to worry about significant increased costs or schedule delays.
By Garry Boulard
After more than a decade of studies and planning, work could begin next year on a bridge that will cross the Colorado River, connecting Bullhead City, Arizona with the town of Laughlin, Nevada.
The $58 million project will ultimately replace an existing bridge that officials in both localities say is outdated and too small for today’s traffic.
That bridge was built in the mid-1980s at a cost of $3.5 million.
Residents in Bullhead City, which has a population of around 40,200, frequently cross the existing bridge for work in Laughlin’s booming casino industry.
Residents in the smaller Laughlin, with a population of just over 7,500, travel to Bullhead City for its retail and healthcare offerings.
Although it is nearly six miles from Bullhead City to Laughlin, the new four-lane bridge will span roughly 3 miles and could take up to two years to build.
The project has been necessarily complicated because it has required the involvement of transportation experts from both states, as well as the approval of Bullhead City and Laughlin officials.
Meanwhile, the estimated cost of the project, partly due to the need for expanded infrastructure at both ends of the bridge, has risen from an estimated $30 million more than a decade ago, to $40 million in 2015, and now $58 million.
With a recent vote by the Bullhead City Council approving $4.5 million for the project, along with $33 million coming from a combination of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and Clark County, the project is expected to have a two-year construction schedule.
By Garry Boulard
A Rio Rancho developer is making plans for the construction of an ambitious mixed-use project along busy Southern Boulevard SW that will be a response to the increasing metro demand for live-work space.
“The trend now is for more open space in projects, and even day care so that people can bring their children to work,” says Paul Matamoros of an envisioned project that will go up on a currently vacant site at the intersection of Southern Boulevard and 26th Street.
Matamoros, chief executive officer for the Rio Rancho-based Metro Holdings, thinks the time is right for a significant mixed-use project in southern Rio Rancho, a project that may hold particular appeal to Millennial Generation tenants.
The proposed professional suites building could end up being anywhere from four to six stories in height, with around 20,000 square feet of retail space.
“With that, we could also end up with anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 square feet of combined office and apartment space,” says Matamoros.
Previously a realtor and broker based in San Francisco, Matamoros says the proposed Rio Rancho project will have apartments ranging in size from studios all the way up to three-bedrooms, along with a rooftop common space providing a panoramic view of the Sandia Mountains.
Matamoros is currently in the process of seeking equity investment to the tune of anywhere between $2 million and $2.5 million for what is expected to be a $12 million project.
If that funding and investment is secured, Matamoros forecasts an 18 to 24-month design and construction timeline to bring the project to completion.
By Garry Boulard
After tracking a dive of 4 points earlier this year, a survey commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows an uptick in the number of small business owners nationally expressing a positive take on current economic conditions.
Done in partnership with the New York-based MetLife insurance company, the Small Business Index shows a strong 68.7 percent of owners of small businesses currently expressing confidence regarding the economy.
That increase from the last index survey may be attributable to serval factors, including the month-long shutdown of the federal government from December of 2018 to January 2019, which depressed the response in the previous survey.
The most current index additionally indicates that some 59 percent of small business owners nationally say the U.S. economy is currently “in good health,” a 6 percent jump from the last quarter’s results.
The index additionally shows a somewhat gender-neutral era of good feelings, with 59 percent of male-owned small businesses expressing economic optimism, compared to 58 percent of the women-owned businesses.
In the area of challenges confronting small business owners, the issue of health care plans appeared daunting, with one in five of owners indicating that they are trying to keep monthly premiums low.
The owners also said just trying to figure out the various health plans offered is time-consuming, with “one in every five small business owners saying they do not have enough information to make informed decisions about health care options.”
Reviewing those responses, Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the Chamber, said in a statement: “For small business owners, health care costs and complexity continue to gobble up time and resources that could otherwise be spent growing their companies and creating more jobs.”
By Garry Boulard
One terminal will be demolished and another upgraded as part of an overall strategic plan just approved for the growing Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.
The 90 year-old airport, located at 3400 E. Sky Harbor Boulevard, is the largest airport in Arizona serving around 45 million passengers annually.
But in anticipation of future growth that could well see more than 70 million passengers using the airport by the year 2039, airport officials are taking a comprehensive view of Sky Harbor’s coming facility needs.
That mean that the airport will see an upgrading of roads on its property in order to both enhance security and better facilitate vehicular traffic.
In a press release issued by the airport, it was noted that “Sky Harbor’s central location, increased vehicle traffic, and security requirements have resulted in a need to make adjustments to its roadway system. As part of Sky Harbor’s pathway to the future, the Airport is also examining ways to improve Sky Harbor Boulevard.”
The strategic plan, now signed off on by members of the Phoenix City Council, also includes relocating the airport’s south end cargo facilities to the north side of the Sky Harbor site.
Moving those cargo facilities, in turn, will allow for the Air National Guard 161st Refueling Wing to expand the refueling operations it currently has at the airport.
The airport’s Terminal 2, built in 1962, is slated for demolition sometime in 2020, while Terminal 3 will be updated and modernized with a new concourse connected to Terminal 4.
Also, a portion of Terminal 4 is expected to be renovated.
The sweeping strategic plan is now on its way to the Federal Aviation Administration for review.
Altogether, it is expected that the various facility upgrades and construction will cost around $5.7 billion, money that will come through a combination of bonds, grants, and user fees.
By Garry Boulard
The Schriever Air Force Base, located 20 miles to the east of downtown Colorado Springs, may see up to $150 million in new construction if a bill before Congress becomes law.
That bill, approved on a 33 to 24 vote in the House Armed Services Committee, would designate the base as the home to what is being called the Space Force.
As detailed, the legislation would see the building of a crucial and high-tech space operations center at Schriever.
The Space Force initiative was touted in early 2018 by President Trump. Subsequent details released by the White House said the Space Force would be made up of experts from other branches of the military brought into provide their cyber, engineering, intelligence and operations expertise.
The original White House proposal called for making the Space Force a reality by 2020 even in the face of opposition from Congressional members concerned about its costs.
The House committee legislation discards the 2020 date, targeting instead January 1, 2021 as the date upon which the official organizing for the Space Force will begin.
Established in the mid-1980s, the Schriever Air Force Base is the home to the 50th Space Wing of the Air Force Space Command, which oversees the operation of nearly two hundred Defense Department communications satellites.
By Garry Boulard
The Washington-based American Institute of Architects has announced plans to review the way in which the group decides on honors and award recipients in an effort to reduce gender discrimination.
In so doing, the association has signed up the powerhouse Washington law firm of Covington & Burling, LLP to review all of the procedures relating to AIA’s honors and award programs.
“Amidst a national movement to address safety, diversity, and equity in the workplace, we want to make certain we are recognizing and elevating only the very best from our profession,” William Bates, president of the AIA, said in a statement announcing the initiative.
The Covington & Burling review, to be ongoing for the rest of this year, will focus on the vetting process for future AIA honors and awards candidates.
In a press release, the AIA said that it recognizes that while “harassment occurs within the profession, it cannot be tolerated.”
To that end, all nominees submitting applications for any AIA awards must commit to showing an “unbiased treatment of all people in employment, civic, and business transactions, regardless of race, gender identity, physical abilities, or religion.”
A survey of more than 1,200 architects released late last year by the publications Architectural Record and Engineering News-Record indicated that some 66 percent of respondents said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.
That figure increased to 85 percent when the respondents were entirely women.
By Garry Boulard
The New York-based owner of the National Broadcasting Company has announced plans to build its own studios in Albuquerque.
Media conglomerate NBCUniversal says it wants to transform an existing empty warehouse located at 1601 Commercial Street into a modern production facility.
The announcement means that NBCUniversal will spend something like $500 million in the next decade in New Mexico putting together scripted productions for both broadcast and cable channels.
In a statement, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham lauded the company’s Albuquerque announcement, adding that “The media industry is increasingly vital to our state’s workforce, providing stable long-term employment for talented individuals of every age, from all parts of the state.”
NBCUniversal says it expects to spend up to $4 million in the next several months converting the warehouse in question into a space that will include two studios and an office. As planned, the structure will also house grip, lighting, and transportation operations for the company.
To help close the NBCUniversal deal, the State of New Mexico offered the company $7 million through Local Economic Development Act funding, with the City of Albuquerque contributing $3 million, also in local economic development funds.
The one-story building that NBCUniversal will be moving into measures just over 83,000 square feet and was built in the mid-1970s. At one time, the structure served as a facility for the Premiere Distributing Company, the wholesale distributor of Anheuser-Busch products.
NBCUniversal’s cable channels include CNBC, USA, and Bravo. Last year that division alone saw revenue in excess of $2.9 billion. Overall, the company has enjoyed annual revenues of around $33 billion annually.
By Garry Boulard
For more than four decades, the 34,000-seat Hughes Stadium, home to the Colorado State University Rams, was one of the largest football stadiums in Colorado.
After the construction of a newer Rams stadium and the demolition of the Hughes structure in the spring of 2018, speculation was rampant regarding the future of the now-vacant 161-acre Hughes site on the west side of Fort Collins.
Earlier this year, CSU’s Board of Governors voted in favor of having the site redeveloped as a subdivision that would see the eventual construction of up to seven hundred homes ranging in size from 1,400 square feet to around 3,000 square feet.
In so doing, the board also approved CSU entering into a contract with the company Lennar Colorado LLC to serve as master developer of the site.
Although the company has not yet submitted an official development plan to the City of Fort Collins, talks between Lennar Colorado and the city’s planning department have taken place regarding that plan.
Now a group of neighbors and community activists have announced their opposition to the redevelopment project as initially proposed by CSU and Lennar.
Members of Planning Actions to Transform Hughes Sustainably, otherwise known as PATHS, are urging the school to cancel its contract with Lennar, arguing that the plan as generally outlined is all wrong for the area.
PATHS contends that the proposed new development lacks sustainability and would greatly increase vehicular traffic in west Fort Collins.
A website for PATHS also says that the development would create water use and erosion issues, while potentially harming area wildlife.
An online petition set up by PATHS has so far attracted more than 2,500 signatures, while the group has also sent a letter to the Board of Governors requesting that it find a new developer.
A CSU spokesman has said that the school cannot unilaterally cancel its contract with Lennar, but did acknowledge that the company, with conditions, could exit its agreement with CSU.
Public input on the project is expected to be heard when it goes before the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, perhaps later this summer or fall.
By Garry Boulard
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