Noting that “even if they vote no, they want the dough,” Mitch Landrieu contends that leaders and officials in states most wary of federal intrusion are still interested in receiving grants coming out of Washington for a variety of infrastructure projects.
Named late last year as the Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator, Landrieu in a press conference said his office is working with state leaders across the country, noting: “The fact of the matter is that most of the building will actually be done by the states, by the cities, by the counties, by the Tribal leaders.”
A former two-term Mayor of New Orleans, Landrieu said he has recently talked to both Democrat and Republican governors and found all of them receptive to working with Washington on infrastructure matters.
“We clearly acknowledged with each other that we may have differences of opinion on other issues,” he remarked. “But on building roads and bridges and airports and clean water and broadband, 75 %, 80% of the people of America want these things to happen. And the governors have committed to work with us to actually get it done.”
Landrieu noted that a good deal of the infrastructure spending will be done through “formula funding that has been set. Every governor has received an indication of what the states are going to receive for the next 5 years.”
The other part of the program will be devoted to competitive grants.
“Some of those are going to take a little bit of time to set up,” said Landrieu. “My expectation is there’s some projects that you’ll see people turning dirt on in, definitely, the spring or the fall.”
What exactly those projects are, however, Landrieu said he could not right now identify.
But in providing an overview of the scope of the infrastructure effort, Landrieu added: “It’s $1.2 trillion. There are fourteen agencies, plus some, that have some level of involvement. In many of these plans and programs, it takes tree to four agencies to coordinate.”
By Garry Boulard
The City of Longmont, Colorado has agreed to annex some 21 acres in order to facilitate the building of both new residential as well as commercial space near what is known as the St. Vrain corridor.
That corridor, made up of natural habitat, stretches around 12 miles from eastern Boulder County near Longmont to the west of the town of Lyons.
In a unanimous vote, members of the Longmont City Council have given their approval to the annexation, as well as a concept plan for the project.
To be developed by the Golden-based Confluence Companies, which specializes in large multi-family developments, the project is expected to see the construction of up to 334 residential units, along with some 20,000 square feet of commercial space.
Located at 21 S. Sunset Street on the west side of the city, what could be a $100 million project is specifically designed to respond to a growing Longmont population in search of more housing options.
By giving a green light to annexing the land, the City of Longmont will also have a greater input in managing the land use of the site.
According to city documents, one of the primary goals in building the project will be to “enhance economic vitality along the St. Vrain Corridor in an environmentally sustainable and sensitive manner.”
A timeline for when work will begin on the project has not yet been announced, but earlier reports have suggested that work could begin by the latter part of 2023.
By Garry Boulard
Cochise County, Arizona has issued a Request for Proposals for the purchase and renovation of a historic four-story former high school that is regarded as one of the city’s landmarks.
Located at 100 Clawson Avenue, the structure was built in 1913 and substantially rebuilt after a fire nearly a decade later. A second renovation occurred in 1959.
Designed by architect Norman Marsh, a prominent southwestern architect who designed a series of schools, churches and libraries in Arizona and California in the last century, the 45,000 square foot building is regarded as one of the most architecturally distinctive structures in Bisbee.
After the construction of a more modern high school, also in 1959, the Bisbee High School building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, was transformed into a series of offices for the county.
With a sale price for the structure listed at $810,000, the county wants to see a renovation and redevelopment that will keep the high school’s distinctive architectural features intact.
County officials have suggested that an adaptive reuse of the structure could see it used for residential, retail, and office space.
The RFP has a submission deadline of March 4.
By Garry Boulard
Rental properties in nearly every category saw significant tenant increases last year, enjoying their greatest growth in a decade, according to a new report just issued by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
The report, America’s Rental Housing 2022, says that near the end of last year the number of people living in apartments stood at 44 million. That’s an increase of around 870,000 over the same time period in 2020.
Meanwhile, the nation’s overall rental vacancy rate has dropped to just under 6%--the lowest such figure in nearly four decades.
Vacancy rates significantly dropped in the higher-quality segment, but even in what is described as the moderate and lower-quality segments, vacancy rates were as low as 3.7%.
As a result, notes the Harvard study, “asking rents for all professionally managed apartments spiked in the third quarter, led by a 13.8% jump for units in higher-quality buildings.”
As these trends play out, the trend of apartment property ownership going from individuals to business entities has increased, jumping from 18% in the last decade to 26% in 2021.
But a simultaneous trend, which the Harvard report attributes to the ongoing presence of the pandemic, has seen 15% of all tenants falling behind on their rents.
“Lower income renters were especially hit hard by income losses,” and were most “likely to fall behind on rent,” says the report, noting that 23% of renters earning less than $25,000 annually were in this category.
By comparison, “just 5% of households making more than $75,000 owed back rent.”
Due to the ongoing demand, the report forecasts additional apartment construction in the immediate years to come, but adds that “several obstacles stand in the way of building housing for low and moderate-income renters, including rising construction, labor, and materials costs as well as regulatory restrictions preventing the construction of new multifamily housing.”
The report adds that cities and towns willing to tackle the thorny challenge of updating zoning regulations to allow for more multifamily or apartment projects, “would help address the supply shortage and expand the options for where renters can live.”
By Garry Boulard
A group called Homewise wants to develop 22 acres of affordable housing as well as a public park on the southwest side of Santa Fe at the intersection of South Meadows Road and Rufina Street.
The project is expected to be reviewed and most likely voted on by members of the Santa Fe City Planning Commission in early February.
With offices in Santa Fe, the nonprofit Homewise is dedicated to providing home ownership opportunities for those who, primarily due to income issues, are least likely to have their own home.
The group has been involved in a number of new home construction projects, including the building of 40 single-family homes on the historic Camino Real in Santa Fe known as El Camino Crossing.
The new South Meadows Road project will see construction going up on a currently vacant 22.2-acre lot purchased some 15 years ago by Santa Fe County.
Efforts on the part of the county to turn the space into a public park have gone nowhere, largely due to the anticipated cost of that project. Last summer, the county decided to sell the land to Homewise for nearly $2 million in the hope of seeing affordable housing built there.
In the upcoming planning commission meeting, scheduled for February 3, Homewise is asking that the South Meadows site be given a new zoning designation allowing for residential construction.
The project, if approved, will see the building of nearly 100 homes. Forty of those structures will be built as condos. The plan also calls for 30 townhomes and just over two dozen single-family homes.
By Garry Boulard
A new apartment complex may soon see construction in Aurora, on a site partly belonging to a shopping center on the southwest side of the city.
Members of the Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission have given their unanimous approval to the construction of 311 apartment units near the intersection of S. Parker Road and E. Quincy Avenue.
The site is mostly occupied by the East Bank Shopping Center, whose official address is 4100 S. Parker Road. Built in 1981, the shopping center in recent years has suffered a loss of tenants.
As proposed by the Evergreen Development Company of Denver, the new apartment complex would be built on a portion of the retail site, while leaving the rest of the shopping center intact.
The commission approved the project, even though many nearby residents expressed concerns about the potential traffic impact of the new complex.
Those residents may appeal the commission decision in an upcoming meeting of the Aurora City Council.
Specializing in multifamily projects in Arizona, California, and Colorado, Evergreen Development has also been involved in the redevelopment of distressed retail spaces. The company is currently in the process of building 300 new apartment units at a site in Colorado Springs that was once the home to a Sears department store.
By Garry Boulard
Housing and Urban Development Department Approves Funds for a Wide Variety of Tribal Housing Projects
In an ongoing effort to expand what is being called “safe housing” alternatives, the Housing and Urban Development Department is offering up to $83 million in grants for Tribal projects nationally.
The Indian Community American Block Grant American Rescue plan is targeting 74 tribal communities across the country. In a statement, Adrianna Todman, HUD deputy secretary, said the idea behind the grants is to ensure that every person living in a Tribal community has the “security of a healthy home and community.”
In New Mexico, the Santee Sioux Tribal Housing Authority is receiving just a little over $1 million to rehabilitate 36 housing units.
The Laguna Housing Development is slated to receive around $1 million for the construction of three modular homes; while the Mescalero Apache Tribe is getting the same amount to build 40 affordable homes.
Half a dozen new homes will be built by the Picuris Pueblo Indian Tribe, due to a $1 million grant; with the Pueblo de Cochiti Housing Authority getting just over $1 million to rehabilitate 35 existing homes.
Just over $848,000 is going to Tamaya Housing Incorporated for a series of infrastructure projects, including the completion of new septic tank system.
Two of the largest grants nationally, at $3.4 million each, are going to the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma for infrastructure work; and the Ogala Sioux Tribe, also in Oklahoma, for the replacement of aging infrastructure, allowing for some 30 homes to be connected to a fresh water supply.
The Ogala Tribe will also use its grant funding to upgrade nearly 100 housing units.
The vast majority of Indian Community block grants were awarded to tribes and communities located in the western states.
In two earlier rounds at the end of last year, HUD awarded a combined $126 million for similar Tribal community housing projects.
By Garry Boulard
A long-standing Albuquerque program devoted to helping homeless people transition into healthier lives and situations is planning to build a campus expansion.
Saranam LLC has offices and facilities at 1028 Eubank NE but wants to build an expansive campus on the west side of the city that will see the construction of 15 two-bedroom homes, and 10 four-bedroom homes.
The two-bedroom homes will measure around 860 square feet, with the four-bedroom homes just under 1,300 square feet. According to the project’s site plans, the homes will be built in small clusters in various sections of the campus.
As planned, the 3.5-acre campus will also include a family center, playgrounds, a community garden, and up to 13,000 square feet of open space.
To that end, Saranam has received a substantial $1 million gift from ADC Limited, an Albuquerque-based security service, for the project.
Saranam, which means “refuge” in Sanskrit, was launched in 2004 and to date has served around 150 families to not only get people out of homelessness, but to provide educational and intensive case management services.
Saranam’s central purpose is to provide housing for those who don’t have it, with the idea that once that basic need is satisfied, most people can focus on such things as their educational and professional goals.
If additional funding can be secured, the campus will be built next to the Mesa View United Methodist Church, west of the intersection of Montano Road NW and Coors Boulevard NW.
By Garry Boulard
One of the treasures of the Early 20th Century Commercial style of architecture will be the subject of an auction beginning on February 28.
Located at 300 E. San Antonio Avenue, the seven-story Caples Building was originally constructed in 1909, with two floors added some 6 years later.
During the first decade of the last century, the building played a historic role, with its upper floors serving as an office for future Mexican President Francisco Madero and visited by the famous revolutionary and military leader Francisco “Pancho” Villa.
Measuring just under 56,000 square feet, the structure has been lauded by preservationists for being the first reinforced concrete structure built in El Paso.
Put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, the Caples Building is known for its brown brick exterior and Romanesque style windows.
Named after businessman and former El Paso Mayor Richard Caples, the building was a vibrant hub of activity for decades with occupied offices on the upper floors and retail space on the ground level.
In recent decades the building has been mostly vacant and suffering from neglect. Because of its condition, it has also been placed on the most endangered properties list by the group Preservation Texas.
Currently listed with the real estate firm of KW Commercial of El Paso, the starting auction bid for the Caples Building is set at $700,000.
By Garry Boulard
A Pasig, Philippines-based fast food restaurant chain that has been all the rage in select markets in the U.S. is making plans for a major facility expansion.
That restaurant, Jollibee, specializes in a branded meal called “chickenjoy,” which is its signature friend chicken meal, among other menu items.
Founded in 1978, the company, with annual sales in excess of $140 million, is also popular for its Jolly Spaghetti, a Filipino sweet-style spaghetti.
While the company, with its distinct happy bee logo, has more than 1,300 locations worldwide, to date it has less than sixty stores in the U.S.
New outlets have been built and opened in primarily in California and along the East Coast. Reports have suggested that the Jollibee’s locations have particularly thrived in areas with large Filipino American populations.
Now plans have been announced for the construction of up to 300 new locations in both the U.S. and Canada, all to be built over the course of the next two years.
The average Jollibee’s location measures around 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, although last year the company opened a flagship store on Broadway in New York with more than 7,000 square feet on two levels.
The company has not yet said where its new U.S. outlets will be built.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox.