A lack of both workers and subcontractors continues to plague the home building industry, notes a new report issued by the National Association of Home Builders.
In the group’s latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, respondents in fifteen home building categories reported varying degrees of shortages, with a very large 83 percent of framers identifying shortages.
The smallest percentage, at 47 percent, was seen in the building maintenance management category.
The numbers ranged between 70 percent and 82 percen in the concrete workers, bricklayers and masons, and carpenters category.
Altogether, shortages reached an industry-wide 69 percent, the largest such figure reported by the NAHB since such numbers were first compiled in the 1990s.
In looking at the numbers, the NAHB’s Eye On Housing blog additionally focused on the subcontractor portion of the equation, noting, “Recently, shortages of subcontractors have been more severe than shortages of labor builders directly employed.”
A possible reason for that gap may be explained in the number of laid off workers who started their own subcontracting business during the Great Recession, but have since decided to give up those businesses in favor of working for other companies.
“This would improve the availability of workers directly employed by builders while reducing the availability of subcontractors,” the NAHB report suggests.
By Garry Boulard
Denver officials are hoping to find a contractor who will help formulate a strategy for the construction of affordable housing throughout the city.
To that end, the city has issued a Request for Proposals looking for a consultant that can put into play policy ideas suggested earlier this year in a documented called Blueprint Denver—A Blueprint for an Inclusive City.
Both the city’s Community Planning and Development department, as well as the offices of the Economic Development and Opportunity department, have issued the RFP solicitation, which has an August 30 deadline.
That RFP reads, in part, that the consultant to be selected will “assist in the establishment of a citywide affordable housing zoning incentive as well as the establishment of more predictable requirements for large developments to provide affordable housing benefits to the community.”
Ultimately, the city wants to see the creation of more zoning incentives for affordable housing projects, particularly in transit-oriented sections of Denver.
At the same time, Denver is hoping to create standards for the construction of such housing across the city.
If successful, the effort will see zoning code changes that will subsequently be adopted by the Denver City Council.
The ambitious Blueprint Denver document, centered on both transportation and land use, was approved by the council in April and is intended to anticipate housing issues and needs for the next two decades.
That document stated that it was intended to guide “where new jobs and homes should go, how our transportation system will improve, how to strengthen our neighborhoods, and where and how we invest in our communities with new infrastructure and amenities.”
By Garry Boulard
Work could begin later this year on the construction of a new training facility to be used by the Aggies baseball team at New Mexico State University.
The roughly 4,500 square foot building will go up next to the team dugout on the south central side of the Las Cruces campus, just off Locust Street.
Designed by the New York-based HOK Architect firm, the rectangular-shaped structure will have a peaked roof, exterior screen walls, and protected ceiling fans.
NMSU’s Director of Athletics, Mario Moccia, said in a statement, that the facility will be a “tremendous addition to the Aggie Baseball program, and another major step in creating one of the premiere college baseball stadium complexes in the Southwest.”
Some $900,000 in funding to build the new training center is coming from Mike and Judy Johnson. Mike Johnson is an NMSU graduate and former chief executive officer of Conoco Gas and Power, while Mary attended the school before becoming a city controller in Houston.
Five years ago, the Johnsons donated $1.4 million to NMSU to pay for an upgrade of the baseball stadium’s seating and clubhouse lighting system.
By Garry Boulard
In an effort to advance the maintenance and upgrading of senior housing facilities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is contemplating using private financing to fund such projects.
Tom Davis, director of HUD’s office of recapitalization, has told the Wall Street Journal that bringing in money from the private sector might help the agency “avoid the kind of capital backlog problem that other parts of the affordable housing portfolio have.”
There are currently more than 2,900 properties owned and managed by HUD that are geared for seniors.
Those properties, some of which were built in the 1960s, are in various states of condition, with almost all needing some form of repair.
As the country’s population ages, the need for senior public housing continues to grow. Last year, Congress passed legislation providing up to $100 million in funding for the construction of new senior housing.
But HUD officials say maintaining current senior housing space, which often entails heating and cooling system upgrades, as well as roof repairs, is just as pressing as the need to build new space.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson has described keeping those properties up to date as one of the agency’s top priorities for the next several years.
If HUD ultimately allows for the use of private funding to be used in senior housing upgrades, it will be a first in the department’s nearly 55-year history.
It is not known when the department will make a final determination on the matter.
By Garry Boulard
Upgrade work on three public libraries in El Paso is still in the planning stage, the last of the big projects funded by the Quality of Life Bonds passed by voters nearly seven years ago.
That $473 million bond has been spent on a variety of park, street, and museum projects, as well as the $1.6 million renovation of the Richard Burges Library at 9600 Dyer Street, which saw the addition of new community space and study rooms.
The Sergio Troncoso Library at 9321 Alameda Avenue has also received some $450,000 in general facility upgrades as a result of the bond.
Now slated for work is the $620,000 renovation and upgrading of the Dorris Van Doren Regional Library at 551 E. Redd Road, which is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2020.
The design phase for the $350,000 upgrading of the Armijo Branch Library at 620 E. 7th Avenue is set to launch this fall, with actual construction work starting in late 2020.
And, finally, one of the most talked-about bond library projects will see design work starting in the fall of 2022 on El Paso’s main downtown library, located at 501 N. Oregon.
That limestone building, with a distinct modernist design, was opened in the fall of 1954.
Public input meetings have already been held, with perhaps more in the offing, discussing the exact structural changes to a building that serves an estimated 200,000 patrons yearly.
Once the design phase of the main library project is completed, actual construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2023, with a completion date one year after that.
By Garry Boulard
A plan calling for the creation of a new skate park in the southwestern Arizona town of Bouse is currently being reviewed by state officials and expected to be approved later this year.
Talked about for the last two years, the park will likely be constructed on roughly 56 acres off Joshua Road. That mostly vacant site is on the south side of Bouse, directly across the road from the Bouse Elementary School.
If built, the park would be integrated into the much larger Arizona Peace Trail, which connects Bullhead City to Yuma through an oblong-shaped trail loop designed for off-highway vehicle use.
The Arizona State Parks Board has now given its approval to purchasing the planned site for the skate park, which some decades ago was the home to a small cotton gin.
Preliminary plans for the park have also been submitted to the Arizona State Legislature’s capital review committee.
Once that committee gives its approval, public input meetings are expected to be held regarding the final design of the park.
According to the Santa Monica, California-based Skate Park Association, there are more than 3,200 skate parks currently in the U.S., and just over eighty in Arizona.
Construction costs for building such space can range anywhere from $100,000 to more than a $1 million depending upon the site preparation, design details, and infrastructure of each park.
By Garry Boulard
The largest student housing development company in the nation is expected to see a double-digit increase in its properties in the next several years.
That prospect, according to a new report issued by the New York-based Argus Research, is largely fueled by estimates that the country’s college enrollment will increase by at least 15 percent between now and 2021.
Based in Austin, American Campus Communities already has just under 170 student housing properties up and running, comprising more than 109,000 beds.
The Argus Research report, American Campus: At the Head of the Class, predicts that the company will see work completed on some seven new projects in the next two years with a price tag value of $877 million.
One of the reasons for American Campus’ dominant position in the market has been its aggressive study of student housing market needs in individual college towns.
Its housing, according to the Argus Research study, is “considered more modern and comfortable than older college dormitories and privately-owned apartments.”
Amenities at typical American Campus projects, continues the report, include “gyms and spacious rooms.”
The company has additionally enhanced its reputation for forward-thinking with the announcement that it will build dormitories housing up to 6,200 new beds for interns at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
That $615 million project is expected to be built in phases between 2020 and 2023.
Although the horizon currently appears cloudless for American Campus, the Argus Research report cautions that “declines in student enrollment, or the construction of competing off-campus developments, could hurt the company’s occupancy rates.”
A new report on the financial site Motley Fool points out that while American Campus’ current 109,000-bed total seems like a lot, “It’s important to realize that this covers about 0.6 percent of the American college student population.”
While this means that any of American Campus’ competitors can be expected to take on more and larger student housing projects in the near future, the company itself, says Motley Fool, may end up “multiplying its market share several times over in the next decade or two.”
By Garry Boulard
While it is still in the preliminary stage, a master plan is currently being developed for the Steamboat Springs Airport that could see the construction of several new facilities at the site, including one or two new hangars.
The plan has already been the subject of several public input meetings and reviewed by an advisory board to the airport.
At issue is determining the future growth of the airport, which is located at 3499 Airport Circle, roughly three miles to the northwest of the Steamboat Spring’s town square.
Although the airport already has nearly fifty hangars, the need for more such structures has always been great. It is also thought that private operators flying in and out of the airport may fund the construction of such structures for their own use.
The new fueling stations would be in the form of self-serve operations designed specifically for smaller planes.
The plan, which is being put together by Dowl, a civil engineering consulting firm with offices in Denver, also includes the extension of the airport’s runway to 5,000 feet from its current 4,400 feet.
A final version of the plan is expected to be submitted to the Steamboat Springs City Council either later this year or in early 2020.
By Garry Boulard
Plans have been announced for the construction of a new hotel and much-needed conference space in Los Alamos.
The project, to be developed by the Albuquerque-based TNJLA, Incorporated, would see the construction of 86 new rooms, as well as a conference center able to accommodate up to 300 people.
The development will be branded as a Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.
TNJLA is currently trying to secure property belonging to Los Alamos County for the project, in compliance with Local Economic Development Act guidelines.
The 3-acre site in question is located just off what is called the 20th Street Extension.
Members of the Los Alamos County Council are now in the process of trying to decide whether to approve an ordinance that will allow for the county to turn the land over to TNJLA.
A part of that process will also see the company entering into a Project Participation Agreement with the county.
The ordinance question could be decided by council members in late August.
TNJLA has spearheaded the development of similar hotel projects in Albuquerque, Carlsbad, and Hobbs, among other locations.
By Garry Boulard
The recent completion of a new school in Laveen, Arizona, designed to serve more than five hundred K-8 students on the Gila River Indian Reservation, is being seen as a precursor to future new schools run by the federal Bureau of Indian Education.
The Gila Crossing Community School, located at 4665 W. Pecos Road, is actually made up of a series of interlocking structures housing classrooms, a library, gymnasium, offices, and dining space.
Construction of the school is part of a larger effort to replace outdated BIE facilities across the country. According to reports, many of those schools, which were built in the late 19th century, suffer from asbestos contamination, and both electrical and plumbing system issues.
Currently the BIE has up and running more than 180 elementary and secondary schools located on 63 reservations nationally. The total enrollment today at those facilities is in excess of 47,000 students.
In testimony before the Senate’s Committee on Indian Affairs last year, Tony Dearman, BIE director, noted the aged condition of many of the BIE schools, and said the agency was doing what it could with $129 million in infrastructure funding to “address the current backlog in school construction and maintenance.”
Dearman additionally estimated that it would probably cost nearly $300 million to replace all of the BIE schools that are not up to current standards.
The BIE is asking for a 2020 fiscal year budget of $32.3 million that will allow it to build some of those new facilities, as well as maintain existing older schools.
The BIE has additionally determined that there are currently a minimum of sixty schools that need to be replaced due to their age and condition.
By Garry Boulard
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