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Charter School Group in Arizona Enjoying Construction Boom

The latest good news for BASIS Schools Incorporated, which has offices in both Scottsdale and Tucson, came last month when members of the Phoenix City Council voted to approve some $88 million in Industrial Development Authority bonds to pay for the charter group’s continued Arizona facility expansion.

That bonding has proven to be crucial to BASIS’ facility growth, noted Phoenix City Councilman Sal Di Ciccio in comments before the vote was taken, because unlike public schools that have bonding capacity for construction, charter schools in Arizona, “don’t have the funding ability for capital.”

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Veeyah Spurs Solar Demand to Grow New Mexico’s Renewable Economy

As a solar advocate and part of Albuquerque’s construction community for over three decades, Paul Droege has seen the promise of a New Mexico solar industry flare up and die down repeatedly over the years. “I saw Advent Solar, Sky Fuel, so many others. I can’t tell you how many contractors I’ve seen open up a solar division—they were really going to go after it—but soon it was like, forget it, it’s not working,” says Droege, founder and CEO of Veeyah, a smart-grid startup.

So he decided to change the game—by focusing on solar demand, rather than supply. Droege had an epiphany at a conference where a crowd of solar advocates were asked if they used solar—and only a few hands shot up. He saw that people wanted solar, but too many barriers stood in the way. So he asked, why not make it accessible to everyone?

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New $1 Billion Power Plant Set for Northern New Mexico

Work could begin in early 2017 on the construction of a massive $1 billion power plant set to go up on private land near the small community of Waterflow, New Mexico.

“We’ve been doing our ground work, trying to build up support for this behind the scenes,” says Curt Hildebrand, the president of Western Energy Partners LLC, which is based in Littleton, Colorado and is the company building the new plant.

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New Public Safety Campus Reflects Dramatic East Las Cruces Growth

A vast and empty 50-acre site on the east side of Las Cruces is expected to see construction later this spring on a new and long-awaited combined police and fire substation. “Generally we are looking at engaging in a ground-breaking and the start of construction sometime in the middle of the next month,” reports D. Eric Martin, facilities management administrator with the City of Las Cruces.

“The goal after that is to have construction completed by June 30, 2016—in time for our new budget year,” adds Martin.

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Delayed, Over-Budget Veterans Affairs Construction Projects to be Target of Congressional Probe

After months of delays and cost overruns, a $1.7 billion project in Aurora, Colorado to build a new Veterans Administration hospital may soon be back on track. During a visit to the Aurora site, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson acknowledged that his department was ceding control of the project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the hope that construction on the 182-bed facility could continue, with a target completion date of sometime in 2017.

It’s a move that Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, one of the most vocal critics of the way the VA has handled the Aurora project, welcomes.

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Santolina Master Plan Awaiting Commission Vote

A decision regarding the fate of a controversial plan that would see the eventual development of more than 13,700 acres in southwest Albuquerque may be announced in early May.

The Santolina Master Plan, as presented more than a year ago to the Bernalillo Planning Commission, is the most sweeping and all-encompassing development proposal ever aired in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

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Santa Fe’s Historic House of Governors in Need of Repairs

The more than 400 year-old Palace of Governors at 105 West Palace Avenue in Santa Fe is in need of a series of repairs that include stabilizing the building itself.

“There are several things that need to be done,” says Seth McFarland, operations manager with the Palace, listing “stucco repairs, and the repairing and resurfacing of the parapets” as the steps in the Palace’s overall restoration.

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Failed New Mexico Capitol Outlay Bill Sparks Hope for Special Session

New Mexico State Representative Deborah Armstrong is quick to admit that, as she puts it, “I am hardly in the leadership circle in Santa Fe.”

Nevertheless the Bernalillo County Democrat says she hopes that Governor Susana Martinez and the leaders of the legislature can come together on the need for a special session that will deal specifically with trying to pass a capital outlay bill.

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Marlene Brown, National Solar Pioneer Initiates Women-Only Albuquerque PV Class for May 2015

Calling all female builders, designers, educators, electricians, homeowners, and DIY junkies!

National solar leader Marlene Brown will join forces with Positive Energy Co-Owner Taiyoko Sadewic to deliver an Albuquerque-based, Women-Only Photovoltaic Design and Installation Class for two weekends in May, 2015.

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Nearly Century-Old Flour Mill in Arizona To Get New Life

Built in 1918, the Hayden Flour Mill is one of the most identifiable and beloved structures in Tempe, Arizona.

“It’s pretty much the symbolic center of the city,” says David Nakagawara, the City of Tempe’s Development Director. “The mill is basically where the city started, on the banks of the Salt River, and the first thing you see when you come into town.”

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Colorado Pot Revenue Spurs School Construction and Renovation

Applications from Colorado school districts to the state’s Building Excellent Schools Today program are not due until three months from now, with project approvals usually announced in early summer. Which schools will get how much funding for what construction and renovation projects has become an annual guessing game in Colorado since the creation of the BEST program in 2008.

But this year calibrated into the predictions is the revenue Colorado has collected from the sale of legalized marijuana, revenue that, through an excise tax, goes into the state’s public school capital construction assistance fund before being handed over to BEST. “There are actually a few taxes accessed in this process,” says Scott Newell, the director of the Colorado Department of Education’s office of capital construction.

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Arizona’s SkySong: A Collaborative Innovation Space that Works

As CEO of the California-based independent IT consulting firm Solugenix Corporation, Shashi Jasthi knew when he was scouting for new offices in Scottsdale, Arizona that he would want a place where, as he puts it, “tech-savvy folks would want to congregate.”

“We are in a high technology business and people business—we are technology consultants,” explains Jasthi, noting that he has seen mixed-use, innovation spaces in Singapore that are “nicely done apartment complexes and office complexes with open spaces where people can sit down and have a coffee and discuss things.”

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Winrock Redevelopment Promises New Community Gathering Place

With demolition work well underway, the redevelopment of one of the most watched projects in New Mexico history is continuing according to schedule. “There’s a lot of action taking place right now,” says Darin Sand, vice-president for development with the Goodman Realty Group, the company transforming what was the Winrock Shopping Center into the new mixed-use Winrock Town Center.

“People driving down I-40 notice that a large portion of the old mall is being demolished,” continues Sand, “and that is happening in order to make room for a 950-space parking garage.

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Senior Housing Boom is Big–and Getting Bigger

A three-story, 180,000 square foot building is set to go up some 7 miles northeast of downtown Albuquerque that will be the city’s latest senior living development. “Right now we are in the planning stages and still waiting to get all of our permits,” reports Jacob McGlade, director of market research for the Lincoln, Nebraska-based Resort Lifestyle Communities, which is putting up the 130-unit apartment complex.

“But once we get all of those permits, we hope to start building almost immediately,” says McGlade, noting that the project near the intersection of I-25 and San Antonio Drive NE is RLC’s first senior living project in New Mexico.

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Albuquerque Carbon Neutral Commitment Through 2030 District Gains Ground

From Seattle to Pittsburg, cities across the U.S. are transitioning to carbon neutral using the bold new “2030 District” template initiated by visionary New Mexican architect Ed Mazria and his team at Architecture 2030. Albuquerque is moving forward rapidly to join their ranks as an established District.

“A 2030 District is a collaborative network of property partners, professional partners and public partners aiming by 2030 for 50% reduction of energy, water, and transportation consumption in existing buildings and net zero energy for new properties,” says 2030 District Exploratory Committee Chair Laurie Tarbell.

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Colorado Brewery Boom Triggers Construction and Renovation Projects

Taylor Wise says it made great sense for the Grossen Bart Brewery to move into a nearly 40-year old structure in Longmont. “We were brewing out of a garage before this,” says Wise, who is the co-owner of the brewery that was officially launched in the summer of 2012. “But we obviously needed to find something more permanent.”

Solution: Wise and fellow owner Shad Chancey moved from Frederick, Colorado to Longmont, where they renovated a one-story former machine shop, sinking more than $100,000 into not only building a 10-barrel brew house, but a tap room.

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Phoenix to see Construction of Tallest Residential Tower

Work is expected to begin later this summer on a 34-story glass tower in downtown Phoenix that will also serve as a symbol of urban revitalization. “It’s an important project for many reasons,” says David Krietor of what is being called the Phoenix Central Station, which will go up on a busy block dominated by modern office and apartment skyscrapers.

“It’s not only going to be a great building itself, but it will be a part of a larger series of developments that are really transforming our downtown area,” says Krietor, the chief executive officer of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., a community development group.

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Vicki Mora, New Mexico Associated General Contractors CEO

While lawmakers meeting in Santa Fe for the 2015 session are voting and debating any number of bills, Vicki Mora is happy to note that the work of the New Mexico Associated General Contractors is done well before opening day. “We actually do our government relations throughout the year,” says Mora, the chief executive officer of the AGC’s New Mexico chapter, which has a membership of just under 200 companies.

“The goal is always for us to do the detail work behind the scenes regarding things like governmental relations and regulatory oversight,” says Mora, “so that by the time we are at the legislature, we are wrapping up support.”

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Escuela del Montessori School to Remake Albuquerque Block

One of the most successful independent schools in New Mexico is in the process of leaving its footprint on an entire city block in Albuquerque. Escuela del Sol Montessori, located at 1114 7th Street NW, roughly half a mile from downtown Albuquerque, wants to create a visually appealing and modern campus that will better serve its roughly 200 students.

This is something we have talked about for a long time,” says Friedje vanGils, Escuela’s head of school and executive director, of an invitation sent out in early January asking for qualified architectural firms to develop a master plan for the block-size campus. “The master plan might take a while to do, then we will have to work out some sort of phased plan after that,” says vanGils.

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Colorado State University Set to Build New $220 Million Stadium

Despite criticism saying it will cost too much, a new $220 million stadium home for the Colorado Rams very much appears to be in Colorado State University’s future. A memorandum sent several weeks ago by CSU President Tony Frank to the school’s Board of Governors argues that a new stadium will “demonstrate our commitment to excellence in all we do, return the game-day experience to our campus with all the inherent benefits of doing so, and have the likely outcome of a positive impact without any utilization of tuition, fees or state support.”

As proposed, the stadium, which would go up on the southwest side of the Fort Collins campus of CSU, would have a total seating capacity of 40,000 and would include locker rooms, offices, suites, a press box and potentially more than 50,000 square feet of classroom space. An earlier version of the proposal also called for two parking garages on either side of the facility.

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Hobbs Oil and Gas Boom Fuels Construction

Enjoying its status as one of the fastest-growing cities in the state, the biggest challenge facing Hobbs, New Mexico has been how to manage the growth. “When you have the kind of growth we’ve had in recent years, it affects everything,” says Grant Taylor, the president and CEO of the Hobbs Chamber of Commerce.

That growth, clocked at 3.1 percent from 2012 to 2013 by the U.S. Census, and significantly higher than Albuquerque and Las Cruces’ 0.3 percent for the same period, has been fired nearly entirely by an unprecedented southern New Mexico oil patch boom.

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New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Enjoying Construction Burst

The good news came just hours after voting finished last November and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology officials learned that the statewide $139 million General Obligation Bond C had passed by a landslide.

“We are very pleased that the voters of New Mexico showed their support of higher education by overwhelmingly approving the GO Bond vote,” New Mexico Tech President Daniel Lopez said in a subsequent statement noting that out of the $139 million, $15 million would be dedicated to constructing a new building for the school’s busy chemistry department on the Socorro campus next year.

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SmartCode Wins Approval in El Paso, Texas

Gary Walford is a happy man. After arguing for years in favor of SmartCode development, he was highly gratified in early December to see the El Paso City Council vote in favor of creating just such a project, in this case at the site of the old Northgate Mall. “There’s a lot of things good about it,” says Walford, who is a member of the Castner Heights Neighborhood Association, a group representing homeowners living at the foothills of the Franklin Mountains.

“But what’s really good about this is what it does for senior citizens,” says Walford. “It places a big emphasis on parks and access to public transit and neighborhood markets and stores, all of which are things that older people like.” In announcing the SmartCode project, El Paso officials also announced that the Hunt Companies had been picked to build the new $100 million, 30-acre development.

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Construction Gains in 2014 Uneven in West

After a buoyant 2013, builders in Arizona were convinced 2014 would offer even more proof that the Grand Canyon State was finally emerging from the doldrums of the Great Recession. But by the first, and certainly the second quarter of this year, says Mark Minter, “We were convinced that we had become overly-optimistic.”

In fact, the number of construction projects and jobs in Arizona actually declined in 2014. Department of Labor statistics tell the story: “From September 2013 to September 2014, we lost about 7,000 construction jobs, on a base of 125,000 or 130,000,” says Minter, who is the executive director of the Arizona Builders’ Alliance.

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Otters in Albuquerque: Planning Underway for New Exhibit at City’s Biopark

River otters are expected to return to the Rio Grande Zoo sometime in 2016. This is good news for those who can’t get enough of the playful mammals that are now headline attractions at zoos in nearly 40 states, including New York’s famous Bronx Zoo, the National Zoo in Washington and the Miami Metro Zoo in Florida.

“There is an architectural rendering and plan that has been already designed,” reports Barry Bitzer, the director of development for the New Mexico BioPark Society, adding that the bond sale for the project will most likely take place in March.

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Bond C Passage to Fund Construction at New Mexico’s Community Colleges

A unique partnership hopes to see the building of a modern center devoted to health and wellness that will go up adjacent to the Hobbs campus of New Mexico Junior College.

But the fuel behind the project is a $5 million allocation from New Mexico’s General Obligation Bond C, which was overwhelmingly passed by state voters last month. “This is going to be an exciting project for all of us here,” says Susan Fine, the director of communications with NMJC.

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Arizona Biomedical Center: an Experiment in Bringing People to the Table

Discussions in Phoenix centering on what a planned multi-billion dollar biomedical corridor will look like are currently underway, with hopes that a master plan for the development will soon be announced.

“We’ve had visioning sessions on where to go next,” says Robin Sahid of the proposed Arizona Biomedical Corridor, which will go up next to the Mayo Clinic’s hospital in northeast Phoenix and could, at full build-out some 15 years from now, take in around 1,000 acres.

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Legal Constructs

Dena WurmanBreach of Contract

In March 2014, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) sued one of its most highly compensated executives for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract after he resigned and took a job at its chief competitor, Zillow....
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