In November online retail giant Amazon put to rest endless questions regarding where it was going to locate its second headquarters.
In an unexpected split decision, the company said it would build its new offices in both Arlington, Virginia, as well as Long Island, New York.
The announcement followed more than a year of speculation, with cities across the country competing for the honor of winning the $5 billion project.
Out of more than two hundred cities that sent extensive submissions to Amazon, a list of twenty finalists were announced in early 2018. On that list was Denver.
The November announcement revealed that Amazon had received nearly $600 million in incentives from Arlington, along with a significantly larger $1.5 billion package in New York.
But since that announcement, a variety of community groups, residents, and public union officials in New York have expressed their opposition to the Amazon deal, complaining in particular about the scale of the incentives.
Now, according to a report published in the Washington Post, Amazon is thought to be reconsidering its New York decision. According to the newspaper, an unnamed Amazon official wondered “whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project.”
In response, while not denying that it may be reevaluating its New York decision, Amazon in a statement said “We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors—small business owners, educators, and community leaders.”
In a news conference New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed anger over the possibility that Amazon could ultimately end up building elsewhere, saying that if that happens, political leaders in the state are “going to have the people of New York state to explain it to.”
Cuomo continued: “It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy.”
In response to stories about Amazon possibly rethinking its New York decision, public officials in Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey have reached out to the company in the hope that it may reconsider their states for the project.
There have been no indications as of yet that Denver officials are thinking of making a renewed pitch to Amazon.
By Garry Boulard
A new project that will see the construction of just under 90 residential units is slated to go up on the northwest corner of 16th Street and E. Baseline Road in Phoenix, some 6 miles to the south of downtown Phoenix.
What is being called Baseline & 16th will see the building of a nearly $17 million suburban-style project in a part of the city populated with one-story commercial and retail space.
Project developer is the Phoenix-based Avenue North real estate investment firm, which has developed more than 10,000 multifamily units in Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada.
The units will go up on a 6.7-acre site, which Avenue North purchased for $2 million, with plans for both single story duplexes as well as two-story triplexes.
The units will measure around 1,000 square feet, with rents ranging anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800.
Designer for the project is the Phoenix-based Felton Group.
Plans call for the work to begin on the units later this summer with a completion date of sometime in 2020.
The project will embrace the “horizontal living” concept, which is becoming increasingly popular in the southwest, seeing apartment units built on one level, instead of in a more traditional multi-level structure.
A more than century-old theater in downtown El Paso may soon be in line for both renovations and upgrades in the wake of an ownership change.
The three-story Alhambra Theater, at 209 S. El Paso Street, was designed in the Moorish Revival tradition by legendary architect Henry Trost and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Opened in 1914, the theater for decades offered motion pictures and live entertainment, and was one of the city’s foremost vaudeville destinations.
Nearly a decade ago it became the home to a concert venue known as Tricky Falls, which moved out of the structure last year.
Now, the Abundant Faith Living Center, a massive non-denominational church with more than 20,000 members, has purchased the structure with plans to turn into a new place of worship.
The listed asking price for the Alhambra was $1.6 million.
The church already has one location on the east side of the city at 1000 Valley Crest, and another on the west side at 7100 N. Desert Boulevard.
The east side church can serve 1,900 worshippers, while the Alahambra has a current seating capacity of around 1,500.
It is not yet know when work on the historic structure will begin.
By Garry Boulard
A House of Representatives resolution providing the contours of what is being called the Green New Deal calls for the energy upgrading of every single existing building in the U.S.
As introduced by New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, the initiative also proposes a greater national investment in transit, energy technologies, the revamping of public transit, and education.
The proposal presents a mandate for requiring that all new buildings meet “maximal energy efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability.”
Updates to existing structures would have a timeline of several decades requiring completion.
The proposal has won both criticism and praise.
Reason magazine, noting that there are currently more than 137 million residential units in the country and six million commercial buildings, remarked: “The price for all of this would be astronomical.”
Neil Bradly, executive vice-president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the Green New Deal “asserts control over most of our economy, passing along the enormous costs and bureaucratic inefficiencies to everyday Americans.”
But proponents of the initiative, which has so far won the backing of some 60 members of the House and nine Senators, say the idea may not be as far-fetched as its detractors insist.
The magazine Fast Company notes that the Green New Deal’s building mandates have already to a degree been embraced by a host of U.S. mayors, including the leaders of New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, who have said that every new building in their cities should achieve net zero energy by 2030, with all other existing buildings attaining that status by 2050.
In an effort to drum up support for the idea, a progressive activist group called the Action Network has vowed to visit the offices of New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, as well as Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema, and Colorado’s Michael Bennett, urging them to back the Green New Deal resolution.
For all of that, the fate of the initiative is currently uncertain. “Odds that the Green New Deal proposal will become law appear long,” says the Engineering New-Record.
“But, depending on how much support it eventually generates,” the publication continues, “the plan may help shape the contours of any major infrastructure legislation this year and also push climate change up the list of priority issues for the 2020 elections.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans have been announced for the construction of a two-story, rectangular-shaped building on the 25-acre campus of St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe.
The structure will serve as a retirement home for members of the Brothers of the Christian Schools religious order who have also served as teachers for the private college preparatory high school.
According to city documents, the structure will go up on the Botulph Road side of the campus and will include residential units, exercise and therapy rooms, medical examination rooms, dining room, and sacristy and chapel.
Also included in the project is three exterior upstairs decks, two patios, and a separate garage with space enough for eight vehicles.
The new building, designed by the Santa Fe-based Lloyd &Associates Architects, will replace an existing residential hall that has been in use since 1967.
According to documents submitted to the Santa Fe Board of Adjustment, the current residence hall is described as a structure that is “outdated, in a state of disrepair, and no longer serves the needs of the aging Brothers.”
If the project secures City of Santa Fe approval, work could begin by late this spring, with a likely late 2020 completion date.
Upon the opening of the new retirement home, the adjacent existing home will be demolished.
St. Michael’s High School has an enrollment of around 600 students and is under the auspices of the De La Salle Institute, which is based in Napa, California.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the Steamboat Springs City Council have given their approval to the construction of a 110-room hotel, to go up on some 2.7 acres on the south side of the city.
The Steamboat Springs-based SBS Hotel Venture LLC wants to build the 4-story building at 1480 Pine Grove Road in an area zoned as community commerce.
The L-shaped building, to go up near the adjacent Fish Creek, will include an outdoor pool, fitness room, dining area, meeting space, and restaurant.
Plans call for the new hotel, which was recommended for approval last month by the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, to be branded as a Residence Inn by Marriott.
Because the partly wooded site for the hotel contains several structures regarded as historically interesting, the developers have promised to incorporate some of the wood and stone features of those buildings into the new hotel.
According to city documents, the overall look of the hotel will be in the Modern Mountain Design tradition.
Construction work on the hotel could launch later this spring with a mid-summer 2020 completion date.
Residence Inns typically feature one and two-bedrooms suites. The brand, launched in 1975, is regarded as the first extended stay chain in the U.S.
By Garry Boulard
In a move to expand its retail footprint, Whole Foods Markets Incorporated may soon be upgrading and moving into abandoned Sears store outlets across the country.
The food chain, which was purchased for $13 billion by online commerce giant Amazon two years ago, is increasingly trying to build in places where it does not currently have a presence.
While Whole Foods has nearly five hundred stores in urban and suburban neighborhoods, it is not that well represented in rural America.
But the Sears chain, which at its height owned and operated more than 2,000 stores, has always been a rural America mainstay.
The Whole Foods move makes sense, say analysts, because Sears, which has closed more than 200 of its stores in the last year, has a lot of empty building in parts of the country, notes the publication Bis Now, “where it is the most difficult to find takers for the 100K-plus SF footprints left vacant.
Because Sears purchased KMart in 2004 and more than 300 of those stores have since closed, the Whole Foods Markets strategy would apply to those spaces as well.
A report by the financial analysis website Thinknum suggests that it would not be in Whole Foods’ interest to purchase and rebuild all of the more than 1,200 currently abandoned Sears/Kmart stores.
Instead, it is more likely that Whole Foods will only focus on areas where the average income is at least above $42,000, representing their more typical customer base.
Using those figures, Thinknum estimates that around 600 former Sears and KMart stores, the majority of which are on the East and West coast with a sprinkling in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, could be renovated and upgraded as Whole Foods properties.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the New Mexico State Legislature may approve just over $27 million in capital projects for the University of New Mexico during the current regular session.
Senate Bill 280, introduced by Senators Carlos Cisneros and Jim Trujillo, is currently under review in the Senate Finance Committee.
That legislation, if ultimately passed by both chambers, would see $6 million going for the phase two construction of the ROTC Complex on UNM’s main Albuquerque campus.
Last November voters approved a general obligation bond providing $6 million for the first phase of that construction.
The complex, upon completion, will provide a single location for all of the Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC programs at the school.
UNM also hopes to receive $3.5 million for the construction of the 14,000 square foot Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center, a building that will also include a clinic, library, and physical therapy space.
The university is additionally asking for $11 million in funding for a wide variety of facility safety and technology upgrades on the main campus.
Lawmakers will be voting on a $975,000 UNM request for campus facilities infrastructure work and classroom upgrades at the school’s Gallup campus.
Additional funding requests include $1 million for classroom upgrades and sustainability projects at the Los Alamos campus; $2.5 million for roadway and parking lot improvements on the Taos campus; and $750,000 to remodel the Valencia campus’ Learning Resource Center.
By Garry Boulard
New and unusual combination of grocery store and affordable housing proposed for denver neighborhood
Plans have now been announced for the construction of a unique dual-purpose, five-floor building in Denver’s River North Art District, otherwise known as RiNO.
The structure will house 30,000 square feet of grocery store space on its ground floor, with up to 200 affordable apartments on the floors above.
The project is set to go up in one of the oldest and most diverse neighborhoods in the city that is currently lacking in grocery store outlets.
Supporters of the project say a city block bordered by E.36th Street and E. 37th Street is the best location for the combined grocery store and apartments.
Through the efforts of Denver city council member Albus Brooks, whose 9th District includes the site in question, a small section of land that is currently a park has been acquired from the Colorado Department of Transportation for the project.
That property is located just off of Lawrence Street, which slices into a corner of the site.
Both the park and that section of Lawrence will, if all goes according to plans, make up a part of the development site.
If all of the needed permits for the project can be secured, work on the combined grocery store and apartment project could begin early next year.
Upon completion, the store and apartments will be run by the EXDO Properties, a Denver-based residential and commercial space management firm.
By Garry Boulard
Trying to reignite a program for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, President Trump in his State of the Union address declared that Democrats and Republicans “should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
“I know that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill,” the President continued, “and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting-edge industries of the future.”
No specifics of the plan were given.
An early 2018 White House proposal to target $1.5 trillion on rebuilding bridges and roads met with Congressional opposition when the administration emphasized that state and local governments should take on a larger share of project costs.
Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors, lauded Trump’s infrastructure mention in his address, noting that “one of the most effective ways to ensure continued economic growth is through making needed investments in our roads, bridges, water systems, and other public infrastructure.”
Sanherr urged Congressional action on “new, bipartisan, infrastructure legislation.”
Marshall Doney, the chief executive officer of the American Automobile Association, said he was “pleased to hear infrastructure mentioned as a priority during the State of the Union address.”
Doney added: “We know that there is bipartisan support for transportation infrastructure investment and it is time for the government to act.”
But Congressman Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a frequent administration critic, said no infrastructure bill can move forward if steps weren’t first taken to address “the looming crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund.”
DeFazio noted that the U.S. currently faces a “$1 trillion surface transportation investment gap over the next 10 years to fix the infrastructure we have, meet future needs, and restore our global competitiveness.”
“Any serious infrastructure proposal,” DeFazio added, “must provide sustainable, long-term federal funding so we can make these necessary investments, create millions of living-wage American jobs, increase economic growth, and decrease congestion and emissions.”
The Scientific American lauded mention of infrastructure in the State of the Union address, but criticized Trump for not mentioning climate change.
“The issues are intimately related,” the magazine said. “Experts say the impacts of climate change—including floods, wildfires, and sea-level rise—could place a big strain on the nation’s aging infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, Dan Clifton, policy research head at Strategas Research Partners, a New York-based firm focusing on investment and policy research, told CNBC that unless the Administration “specifically backs raising the gasoline or corporate tax rate,” it is unlikely to win passage of a comprehensive infrastructure bill.
By Garry Boulard