Noting that various military housing facilities built by private contractors continue to be plagued by mold, lead-based paint, and pest infestations, a new report is saying that the Defense Department needs to increase its maintenance of such structures.
The report, Military Housing Privatization, notes that while the Department of Defense has “Increasingly monitored privatized housing conditions at their respective bases,” the department continues to lack “reliable or meaningful data or metrics that adequately reflect the condition of housing.”
Published by the Government Accountability Office, the report notes that Defense Department reviews of such housing generally is comprised of “reviewing a sample of work order requests, visually inspecting housing during change or occupancy, and conducting other point in time assessments.”
But such efforts, says the report, “are limited in scope,” adding that typical “interior walk-throughs may have been limited to just a few homes at each installation.”
The report is additionally critical of housing data collected by private partners, noting that such information cannot “reliably be used for ongoing monitoring of privatized housing because of data anomalies and inconsistent business practices” in how the numbers are crunched.
Even when military bases have set up channels allowing for soldiers to report issues with their housing, residents interviewed for the study expressed confusion over the differences between an office operated by a private partner and one run by the base itself.
Such offices, said the report, “have not always effectively communicated” their role to the residents.
Private partners are today responsible for the ownership, construction, renovation, and maintenance of around 99 percent of housing units nationally on federal military bases.
According to Elizabeth Field, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Defense Department remains committed to increasing its oversight of military housing.
Field, the director of the Defense Capabilities and Management office, said a new guidance issued by the Defense Department in October is mandating that metrics for resident satisfaction and maintenance management must now be a part of all private housing contracts.
That process, continued Field, “will provide military departments more transparency into private partner performance with regard to two important metrics—metrics that are often directly tied to the performance and incentive fees provided to the private partners.”
By Garry Boulard
A vacant building in the Roosevelt Row district of Phoenix may soon be reconverted for use as the city’s first Latino Cultural Center.
An ad hoc committee, established by the city, recommended that the center should be built in what is known as the North Building in the 1200 block of N. 3rd Street, with the cost of reconverting the structure estimated at around $12 million.
The structure is located next to the city’s Hance Park and measures around 24,000 square feet.
The city has set aside just under $1 million for renovating and updating the facility, with additional funding expected to be secured from other sources in the future.
Although finding a site for the cultural center has been an ongoing process in Phoenix for nearly a decade, several members of the Phoenix City Council have indicated that they are not entirely satisfied with the North Building location.
The council may either decide to simply approve the North Building location, or relaunch the site selection process, which would include taking a second look at around half a dozen other sites that have previously been considered.
A feasibility study undertaken two years ago by the city said that a Latino cultural center was especially important, given that census projections have shown that Latinos will make up more than 50 percent of Phoenix’s population in 2020.
By Garry Boulard
Located at 11270 McCombs Street in suburban northeast El Paso, the Joey Barraza and Vino Memorial Park is a pleasant grassy space with four baseball fields and three soccer fields.
Last year, the El Paso City Council voted to name the park in honor of a U.S. Border Patrol agent who lost his life in the spring of 2016 when his vehicle slammed into semi-truck on Interstate 10 near Fort Hancock.
The 29-year Barraza was also a K-9 handler whose German Shepard named Vino was injured in the crash, but did not die.
Now, city officials are hoping to see an upgrading of the site which will include the building of new electrical and plumbing infrastructure, as well as new fencing and rock walls.
To that end, El Paso has issued a Request for Proposals for what will be a $4.4 million upgrade of the formerly named Northeast Regional Park.
The upgrade will also see the building of a new irrigation system, bleachers, concrete tables, new signage, a dog park, and an extension of an existing asphalt parking lot.
The submission deadline for the RFP is December 18.
By Garry Boulard
Employment in the mineral-rich Permian Basin has dropped by around 400 jobs between January and October of this year, says a new report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
That’s a significant change from 2018, when the Permian Basin extending from west Texas to southeast New Mexico added 16,700 jobs for new oil and gas drilling projects.
Even more, in the category of Permian Basin mining, logging and construction, employment dropped by nearly 14 percent in just October alone.
“This marks the first time since 2016 that Permian Basin employment has lagged Texas job growth,” says the Dallas Fed report, Permian Basin Economic Indicators, adding that continued drilling activity is expected to decrease in the months ahead, with “firms cutting spending and orders for new equipment.”
A separate report earlier published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that of the just over 130 currently active natural gas pipeline projects being monitored by the agency, 46 have either already opened or are expected to enter into service before January 1, 2020.
That report, New Natural Gas Pipelines Are Adding Capacity from the South Central, Northeast Regions, says that because of such projects, the U.S. will have added up to 15 billion cubic feet per day in pipeline capacity by the end of this year.
Even so, according to a recent Reuters.com report, “The outlook for 2020 comes with growing skepticism from those inside the industry, and should growth fall short, it could shift the balance of power in world supply back to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.”
By Garry Boulard
In a move that could lead to future retail and commercial construction, University of New Mexico officials are pushing for a Tax Increment Development District designation for the school’s under-utilized South Campus.
In a unanimous vote, members of the Albuquerque City Council have given their approval to a resolution allowing for negotiations to begin between the school and the city as a first step in securing that designation.
UNM has long wanted to find new uses for the roughly 50-acre South Campus, which is located north of Gibson Boulevard, running parallel with Interstate 25.
The site serves as the home to the Isotopes Park stadium, and also has some student housing, but for the most part has been underutilized.
School officials say previous attempts to develop the site have been frustrated primarily due to the cost of building new utilities and road infrastructure in the area.
In comments made before the council, Kim Murphy, a real estate broker working with Lobo Development, the entity that handles business development for the school, said earlier efforts primarily fell short of the mark due to a lack of a “comprehensive, integrated vision, and more importantly, a cohesive implementation strategy to address the significant infrastructure challenges of the area.”
If the area were to be fully developed, the new retail and commercial space could generate up to $516 million in tax revenue over the next 25 years.
The council vote means that school and city officials will be working together in the coming months to craft a precise development agreement within the confines of a Tax Increment Development Distract.
That district would allow for tax revenue coming from new developments on the South Campus to be used to pay for some infrastructure construction.
Once the agreement is completed, it will have to be reviewed and ratified by both the Albuquerque City Council as well as UNM’s Board of Regents.
By Garry Boulard
More than seven years after El Paso voters approved $5.7 million for its funding, plans are now underway for the construction of the city’s long-anticipated Mexican American Cultural Center.
The City of El Paso has issued a Request for Proposals for a combined project that will see the building of the new facility as well as the renovation of the El Paso Public Library’s headquarters located at 501 N. Oregon Street.
The library work will see the reconfiguring of meeting and exhibit space within a 100,000 square foot building that was originally opened in the fall of 1954.
That work will be followed by the building of the 47,000 square foot cultural center, which will go up adjacent to the library in the Cleveland Square Park just off E. Franklin Avenue.
Regarded as a signature project, the cultural center will be designed to provide residents and visitors with an exhibition and performance space celebrating El Paso’s diverse Mexican-American heritage and history.
The cultural center will include an auditorium, exhibit space, and both artist and dance studios, along with the building of a 15,000 square foot exterior plaza.
The $5.7 million designated to be used for the library and cultural center projects was part of the significantly larger $473 million Quality of Life Bonds approved for a variety of public facility projects in the fall of 2012.
Last year, members of the El Paso City Council agreed to approve an additional $15 million in funding for the combined library and cultural center work.
According to city officials, the actual work on both projects is expected to launch next year.
Submission deadline for the RFP is December 18.
By Garry Boulard
Coming off of an unprecedented four years of growth, new commercial construction nationally is expected to continue for the duration of next year, although perhaps at a less frantic pace.
According to a new report issued by the Los Angeles-based CBRE Group, new office construction is forecast to outpace net absorption in 2020, meaning that there is likely to be a marginal increase in the national vacancy rate.
The report, 2020 U.S. Real Estate Market Outlook, is also projecting a 13 percent growth in the flexible office sector - a strong increase - although less than the 23 percent increase recorded this year.
Overall, office space completion will decrease next year to 51.1 million square feet, down from this year’s 56.4 million square feet.
The CBRE report expects to see more developers reconverting existing mall space into mixed-use complexes, with the increased building-out of health and wellness operations in those spaces.
Multi-family construction is also slated for continued growth, even though there will be “some cooling due to new supply outpacing demand.”
Increased investment is also expected in the data center, senior housing, student housing, and self-storage construction segments.
Although total dollar construction volume should come in anywhere between $478 billion and $502 billion, the building market is likely to be negatively impacted by continuing doubts regarding international trade negotiations as well as a recent weakness in the manufacturing sector.
The CBRE Group is the largest commercial real estate services company in the world with revenues last year in excess of $21 billion.
By Garry Boulard
The apparel and footwear giant VF Corporation has purchased a 1.3-acre site at the Centennial Airport in Colorado where it plans to build its own hangar.
The Fortune 500 company, which has moved its corporate headquarters from Greensboro, North Carolina to Denver, says it needs the hangar to accommodate the aircraft used by VF Corporation officials.
The Centennial Airport site, which VF purchased for $10.3 million, is 17 miles to the southeast from the company’s new Lower Downtown office at 1551 Wewatta Street.
Boasting more than thirty outdoor, work, and active clothing brands, VF currently dominates the backpack market with such names as North Face, Timberland, Eastpak, and JanSport.
VF announced in 2018 that it was relocating its headquarters to Denver, securing $27 million in state incentives in the process, and moving some eight hundred employees to the Mile High City.
The company has not yet revealed when it will begin work on the new hangar.
By Garry Boulard
A calibrated approach, asking for a master developer to transform the 64-acre former campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, has received nearly two dozen responses, all pointing to a vibrant new future for the site.
The responses, currently being reviewed by an evaluation committee, have proposed everything from increased housing space, hotels, and new office space.
That input has come in response to a Request for Expressions of Interest issued by the City of Santa Fe.
The respondents proposed ideas in the following categories: master developer to oversee all of the campus; project developer for specific buildings or section of the site; master lessee; and building tenant.
One response, submitted by developer Allan Affeldt, calls for a $400 million project that would place an emphasis on high tech company space as well as the construction of more than one thousand housing units.
In talking with the Albuquerque Journal about the uses for the Santa Fe campus, Affeldt said “The object is not to build more stuff, but to build an economic catalyst. New Mexico has long been known as an economic backwater, but we have the potential to turn that around.”
Alfredt formerly spearheaded the renovation of the historic Las Castaneda hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Other responses for the downtown site have come from the Los Alamos Field Office of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which envisions using part of the campus for offices, as well as light manufacturing and research work.
The University of New Mexico has suggested the creation of a center for art, design, culture and innovation that might be built inside the existing Fogelson Library building.
In an earlier released statement, Lilia Chacon, communications director with the City of Santa Fe, announced that starting next month the city will “embark on the next phase of civic engagement to share information in public gatherings and to continue gathering community guidance as the development process moves forward.”
By Garry Boulard
After at least three years of unprecedented growth, the number of newly-built apartment units is expected to slightly decrease next year according to a major banking and investment company.
The San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Securities is reporting in its Apartment Market Outlook that the demand for new rentals has “softened somewhat compared to the fairly robust pace hit last year, and net completions have slowed to their slowest pace since 2016.”
While the accelerated demand of recent years for new apartment space may be prove slightly off next year, the report nevertheless expects there to be a steady demand for apartments among those in both the 35 to 44 years of age category and the Baby Boomer generation.
That slight market shift is noticeably different from the demand for apartment space among college-age students that has fueled the market in the last several years.
Overall, the Wells Fargo report is forecasting a marginal 0.2 percent decline in apartment demand next year, compared to the 1.8 percent increase seen this year.
“Even as apartment construction downshifts,” says the report, “there is still a significant number of units in the pipelines, and we expect activity to remain elevated.”
In fact, there should be around 380,000 new units built next year.
Of the thirteen cities listed by Wells Fargo as having the largest number of apartments under construction, three were in the West, with Salt Lake City leading the way.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter