By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
As construction, engineering, and development firms consider the impact of inflation and the increasing cost of capital, some are beginning to embrace projects designed to provide tax incentives. These types of projects fall into the category of ‘adaptive reuse’ and a federal program grants attractive tax incentives when private sector firms work with public officials to modernize existing public assets. This is just one additional way that America’s infrastructure is being rebuilt, enhanced, and upgraded.
Adaptive reuse is categorized as the act of repurposing an existing structure for new use. There are thousands of outdated structures that qualify for renovation, upgrades, and/or expansion. Examples include shopping malls, train stations, factories, school buildings, and even military property. Because of the tax incentives available, community leaders are aggressively seeking private sector partners for these types of projects.
A massively scaled redevelopment plan in Salt Lake City is being called the most significant development in Utah history. A public-private partnership is spearheading redevelopment of state property that will be vacated by the Utah Department of Corrections. The adaptive reuse project has a proposed budget that reaches the multibillion-dollar range, and it will include affordable housing units, a business innovation center, mobility improvements, and pedestrian trails.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has released the official list of awardees from the FY 2022 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program. The RAISE grant program provides funding for surface transportation projects of local and regional significance. California won the largest amount of RAISE funds with $119.6 million, Texas ranked second with $101.6 million, and Minnesota was third with $99.4 million.
In Texas, the Port of Port Arthur is getting a $13.6 million federal grant to assist with the conversion of about 25.5 acres of an abandoned railyard in Port Arthur into a multimodal area. The area will include site stabilization, lighting, fencing, fiber optic, storm water management, relocation of utilities underground, and reconditioning of a two-story structure to mitigate flood risks.
The city of Houston will receive $20.96 million in federal funding for the Telephone Road: Main Street Revitalization Project. The project begins at the intersection of Lawndale Drive and Telephone Road and extends 2.8 miles to Interstate 610. Safety modifications include restriped crosswalks, new green “cross-bike” markings, tighter corners to slow vehicle speed, closed-circuit cameras installed at three fully rebuilt intersections, median refuge islands at nine locations, and upgraded METRO bus stops.
The city of El Paso has been awarded $12 million to help construct pedestrian safety improvements at the Ysleta/Zaragoza Port of Entry – streetlights, pedestrian drop-off and pick-up zones, shade canopies, Sun Metro bus stop, seating areas, screening walls for security, and more. The city has committed $3 million as a local match that will come from bridge toll revenues via the public-private partnership program.
The city of Harlingen will receive $5 million for roadway reconstruction; stormwater improvements; and intersection, multimodal, and streetscape improvements. The project will rehabilitate 3.4 miles of Commerce Street starting at the intersection of South Commerce and North 77 Sunshine Strip to the intersection of South Commerce and South 77 Sunshine Strip. The grant funds will cover the design and engineering phase of the project.
This year’s allocations throughout the U.S. include more than $2.2 billion thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides an additional $7.5 billion over five years for the program to help meet the strong demand for projects moving across the country.
The full list of awards can be found, here
The city of Houston has released its Fiscal Year 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The five-year CIP is revised annually to include new projects, reflect changes in priorities, and extend the plan an additional year. The first year of the plan is the city’s current fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. The Houston Information Technology Services (HITS) has recognized several software and hardware services in need of replacement or updates within the CIP.
- Smartphone app for citizens - The app will be designed to integrate social media and the Houston Police Department’s (HPD) web-based applications and provide critical information to the public regarding HPD’s services and functions. Funding in 2023 totals $57,000 for execution of the product.
- E-citation writers - Replace the aging server infrastructure and provide the hardware and software to replace the current 350 handheld devices originally purchased. The new application would allow expansion to write electronic tickets on the laptops in the cars. Funding in 2023 totals $1.3 million.
- E-filing functionality – The project will allow attorneys and the public to have access to court matters as well as the ability to file legal documents and actions remotely. The Houston Municipal Courts will receive this product in 2023 at an estimated cost of $75,000.
- Enterprise asset management - Update the city's asset management tracking and reporting system to track new assets, identify assets reaching end of life, asset information, and maintenance costs. This update will cost an estimated $560,000 in 2023.
- 311 Citibot – This 311 SMS text service allows customers to create service requests through text. Currently, customers who prefer to use text as their primary means of communication are forced to use another channel when seeking the assistance of city services. The estimated cost to implement in 2023 is $400,000.
The Lubbock City Council is expected to adopt a $1 billion proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023. The proposed budget includes many capital improvement projects.
In the proposed budget, $12 million will be allocated for the street maintenance program.
The Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport is slated to receive $10 million for capital improvements such as property improvements, roof replacement, expansion of the cargo apron, and improvement to taxiways L and M.
A total of $17.1 million has been budgeted to construct a new solid waste transfer station, allowing drivers to empty their trucks within the city rather than driving to the landfill near Abernathy.
Another $15.9 million has been budgeted to cover four water and wastewater-related capital improvement projects. These projects encompass replacing a downtown sewer line, rehabilitating the terminal storage reservoir at the north water treatment plant, and expanding the water system in southeast and west Lubbock.
If the city council approves the budget in September, the new budget will go into effect in October when the new fiscal year begins.
The Spring Independent School District will hold an $850 million bond referendum in November as part of the general election. The bond is split into three propositions with multiple projects mentioned in each.
Proposition A would provide $681 million in bonds. Spring High School would be rebuilt at a cost of $430.5 million, districtwide safety and security would cost $123.5 million, and more than $77 million would fund maintenance work. The rest would fund renovations at Westfield High School, Reynolds Elementary, and Jenkins Elementary.
Proposition B would provide $141 million for a multipurpose facility. The facility would be used for districtwide and community educational events, graduation ceremonies, performance and visual arts programs, and indoor athletic events and competitions.
Proposition C would provide $28 million for districtwide technology upgrades. This includes installing systems to detect shooters at all district locations, increasing camera surveillance, and purchasing additional buses.
If voters approve the measure, design work for the construction projects could begin in the spring of 2023, with construction starting in the fall of 2024.
James R. Earp, CPM
City of Hutto
Public career and education highlights: I was thrilled to become city manager this month in “hippo nation,” which is what the Hutto community fondly calls this historic, fast-growing Williamson County city of over 40,000 residents. Prior to taking the Hutto helm, I was assistant city manager for 16 years in the City of Kyle, serving as the city’s first ACM and longest serving professional administrator. I was humbled to have negotiated countless economic development deals, numerous public-private partnerships and build an authentic internal culture. By the numbers, I oversaw development of 8,000+ homes, 1,200+ multifamily units, a 280-bed hospital, millions of square feet of commercial development, and a $300 million regional water partnership—not to mention an annexation that doubled my organization’s footprint. In 2019, I was honored to receive the ASPA (American Society of Public Administration) Public Administrator of the Year award. As far as my education, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in finance and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Tarleton State University; a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington; and a graduate certificate in environmental management from Harvard University. I’m also proud to be a Certified Public Manager and a Texas Watershed steward.
What I like best about my public service is: After working in finance, I found myself spiritually bankrupt and unwilling to continue my life in that direction. I turned the corner to a path of public service nearly 20 years ago and have been infinitely enriched ever since. I am blessed to be able to use my personal gifts and talents in a way that benefit the community as a whole, including the less fortunate. I cherish the opportunity to support others in doing their best work and living their best lives.
The best advice I’ve received is: There are two pieces of advice that frequently come to mind as I develop internal cultures and mentor my teams: First, teams are stronger when everyone doesn’t fill the same role. There is strength in thought diversity, which helps to reveal our blind spots. Second, cost is only an issue in the absence of value. If the community perceives value in their leaders’ spending, they will focus more on their quality of life.
My favorite way to de-stress is: To surround myself with nature or place myself in a sanctuary of silence. On the other hand, I am also recharged by a good laugh with my family and friends.
People might be surprised to know that I: I still find that gaming at a tabletop is a great way to bond.
One thing I wished more people knew about the City of Hutto is:
Small-town values still actually exist here in Hutto, despite our incredible growth. Hutto community values are just not a tagline or an ideal, but a point of pride which I intend to celebrate and fortify for years to come.
The Texas Facilities Commission (TFM) wants to replace its work order system that is used by the Facilities Maintenance and Operations (FMO) division to manage and track work orders, assets, preventive maintenance tasks, labor and materials costs, subcontractor costs, chargeable items, inventory, and assist with billing.
The commission is requesting input on the best solution for this need by sharing what existing systems can do to identify gaps and other software or integrations that will be needed. FMO began using the MicroMain system to track work orders in 2003. In 2015, TFC purchased the rights to bring the system in house and has since been modified with in-house programming to customize it for TFC operations.
Some of the questions being asked include the following:
- What billing capabilities does WOS provide?
- What user groups and roles are available for security and access?
- What notifications to user groups are available when a work order is created?
- What user interfaces are available?
- What tools and functions are available for tracking parts and consumables inventory, asset, and equipment?
FMO is responsible for the management of state-owned facilities in the commission's inventory. The division's portfolio of owned facilities totals over 28 million square feet, supporting the needs of over 100 state agencies housing 62,600 employees throughout 283 Texas cities and towns. Major activities include; property management, facilities maintenance, custodial services, pest control and grounds maintenance for state-owned facilities; recycling and waste management services.
This request for information is due by September 6, 2022 at 3 p.m. CDT.
Fort Bend County recently hired a firm to conduct a study on the cost of providing internet connectivity within the county, especially to the unserved and underserved. Underserved communities are households lacking 100 megabits per second download speeds and 20 Mbps upload speeds. Unserved populations represent households that lack 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. The findings were presented to the Fort Bend Commissioners Court on July 26.
The firm presented four funding options to provide 240 miles of proposed fiber infrastructure. Construction on this broadband project is estimated at $36 million for materials and labor. The county would match 30 percent of the cost.
The firm found most of the underserved cover the west side of the county. An inventory of broadband assets and providers found these elements densely populated in the eastern portion of the county.
Findings from this initial phase of the study call for the construction of "middle mile," or a backbone network pathway of larger cables that shoulder most of the network traffic. The middle mile would be installed underground, along main roads, and along interstate and intrastate highways.
Results of the study show that the county meets the criteria in state plans to apply for grant funding. This funding is available through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency offering state and federal grant funding opportunities through the Middle Mile Grant; the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program; and the Digital Equity Program.
The American Rescue Plan Act is also offering a Capital Projects Fund grant to states, territories, and tribal governments for the completion of projects to enable work, education and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to a public health emergency.
Next steps for the county are to conduct preliminary engineering of the high-level design for the middle mile, identify potential public-private partnerships, and apply for competitive funding sources for implementation.
Lisa Craven, deputy comptroller and chief of staff with Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA), is one of four women to be recognized at a ceremony in September as an Outstanding Women in Texas Government Award recipient for 2022. Craven, who was recognized for "Outstanding Leadership" has served the state of Texas for 35 years, starting at the Texas Capitol as a tour guide while a student at The University of Texas at Austin. Craven joined the CPA in 2015.
This biennial award honors women in state service who are contributing their notable talents and skills to help shape the future of Texas. Candidates were nominated by their respective state agency leadership in one of four categories, and an independent committee selected the women whose contributions best exemplified the categories of Leadership, Professional Development, Community Involvement, and Rising Star.
The Governor’s Commission for Women and the State Agency Council also recognized the following individuals:
- Outstanding Professional Development: Gina Gallegos, District Engineer, Texas Department of Transportation.
- Outstanding Community Involvement: Margie Henson, Digital Signature Analyst, Texas Workforce Commission.
- Rising Star: Jennifer Feliciano, Manager–Contracting Branch, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
Designs for redevelopment projects in the downtown Rail District totaling around $45 million have been approved by the Frisco City Council. The three projects will transform three streets in the Rail District: Elm Street, Main Street, and the Fourth Street Plaza.
The project on Main Street will include building all new parkways, medians, street pavement, and intersections. The city council has decided to move forward with the $22.7 million plan for Main Street with an additional $3 million to bury electrical power. Three scenarios were presented for the Main Street project, with Scenario 1 being favored over the others. This scenario would be a complete build-out from 1st Street to County Road. Hired architects plan to return to City Council in a month and present new rendering and cost estimates for scenario 1.
The Fourth Street Plaza Project is slated to cost $16.4 million and will include construction for the stage, water feature, gateway monument, restrooms, and more.
The city has enough funds to move forward with the Main Street and Fourth Street Plaza projects. However, other projects would have to be put on hold. One project that might be put on hold is the widening of Lebanon Road, which is in the design phase.
Construction on Elm Street will begin in September with a budget of $5 million.
The Texas Water Development Board is taking comments on part of the $2.9 billion coming to the state's water infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The federal funds will be spread over the next five years. The comment period is for $750 million available through the State Revolving Funds.
The state has released its draft of intended use
for clean water and drinking water for Fiscal Year 2023, outlining different projects the state could funnel grant money to next year.
The board will accept public comment through August 20. Then, the board will weigh those recommendations and vote on the final plan before the end of the calendar year.
The city of Dallas Convention and Event Services (CES) Department has been actively working on the development of a Master Plan for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas (KBHCCD). The KBHCCD Master Plan includes recommendations for the location, design, and construction of an expanded convention center.
CES is seeking input related to the Master Plan to help realize and guide the path moving forward for the solicitation of an architect and engineer, construction procurement and type of delivery, solicitation for a project manager, public-private developer agreements, and to provide independent verification of costs associated with the projects.
Comments and recommendations are requested that may enhance solicitations for parties interested in participating as either the primary contracted firm or as a member of a team.
Dallas City Council approved the West of Lamar Street option on February 9 as part of the master planning process; and, authorized advanced planning for the concept on May 11. This option includes opportunities for elevated ballrooms with downtown views, opens Griffin and Lamar streets to natural light, and reconfigures Lamar Street to create a central lobby and an enhanced pedestrian experience.
The Master Plan also includes proposed recommendations for transportation improvements, property use, coordination with area development, Vertiport relocation, and sites for a multimodal hub within the area designated by the Plan.
This request for information is due September 30, 2022 at 1 p.m. CDT.
Texas State University System (TSUS) Chancellor Brian McCall has selected Sidney E. Valentine, Ph.D., as sole finalist in the Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) presidential search.
Valentine has served since 2015 as chief academic and student services officer at South Florida State College, where he provided academic leadership for the college’s transfer, vocational, technical, adult and community education, and workforce education programs.
Valentine, whose appointment must be confirmed by the TSUS Board of Regents, is expected to assume the presidency to coincide with the start of the fall semester. Valentine will succeed President Lonnie Howard, who is stepping down after six years of service to LIT.
Ramsey Saad has been chosen to lead the city of Round Rock’s Information Technology Department. He replaces Heath Douglas who recently retired after serving as Round Rock’s chief information officer (CIO) for 22 years.
Saad has worked with the city for 14 years in various roles. He started with the Geographic Information Systems group before moving to other IT services in different roles. He was promoted to the role of assistant director of information technology in 2015.
Saad selected Megan Tschoerner to take on his previous role of assistant director of information technology.
Beaumont City Council has approved the appointment of Kenneth Williams as the new city manager, effective September 6.
Former City Manager Kyle Hayes retired March of 2022. Williams previously served as city manager in Buda and Diboll.
He has held positions across all areas of government from emergency coordinator to public works director and community development director, which provides a deep-seeded understanding of the needs of municipalities.
In November, Smith County residents will vote on a bond to build a new courthouse in downtown Tyler. The proposal totals $179 million, including $160 million for the courthouse and $19 million for a new parking garage.
If passed, the new courthouse will replace the 1995 courthouse that has faced many safety and spacing concerns in the past 20 years. The most recent study on the courthouse, conducted from 2017 to 2019, showed that a new courthouse is needed to address all issues.
The proposed courthouse will be built on the east side of the downtown square. The county has bought five properties in the area in the past two years.
The new courthouse will include three court floors with 12 trial rooms. Nine courtrooms will be used when the building is complete, leaving the rest open for growth. The new courthouse will immediately accommodate 10 judges, with the possibility of adding four judges. The exterior of the building will pay tribute to the county’s historic 1910 courthouse. The proposal also includes a 300-car parking garage.
The Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) wants to provide a 100-bed comprehensive behavioral health center in the Permian Basin region. The first step is to hire an architect and engineer (A/E) for the project. The A/E should provide preliminary budgeting and scheduling, schematic design, design development, construction documents, construction administration, and project oversight.
The third called session of the 87th Texas Legislature appropriated $40 million for TFC’s use to acquire land, program, design, and construction of this new facility. Cost of construction is estimated at $80 million. The Behavioral Health Campus will include inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care facilities for adults and adolescents, along with a crisis stabilization unit, professional offices, and counseling/therapeutic spaces appropriate for all ages. The Permian Basin region includes a total of 17 west Texas counties, with a total population of over 500,000.
The chosen professional will support the successful execution and completion of programming, design, construction, furnishings, fixtures, and equipment. The request for qualifications for A/E services is due by August 25, 2022, at 3 p.m. CDT.
The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees approved a $770 million general obligation bond for the November 2022 ballot. If voters approve the bond, funds will go directly to projects that expand training capacity for high-demand fields such as health care and advanced manufacturing. It would also include new sites in southeast and southwest Travis County.
The largest project requested for funding is $200 million for a campus in Travis County for advanced manufacturing and skilled trades, including welding, automotive technology, and building construction technology, along with general education classrooms and student services.
At the Highland campus, $100 million will fund the expansion of advanced manufacturing, the implementation of the Entrepreneurship Institute, and cyber security.
Other projects include:
- Hays campus - $100 million for a significant expansion of health sciences including professional nursing and other programs.
- Cypress Creek campus – $80 million for expansion of information technology.
- Round Rock campus - $75 million for expansion of skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, and health sciences.
- Rio Grande campus - $40 million for expansion of computer science and the cyber security program.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from August 5-11:
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement
Martina Lemond Dixon - Kingwood
Justin Berry - Austin
Public Utility Commission of Texas
Kathleen Jackson - Beaumont
Upper Guadalupe River Authority
Dick Eastland - Hunt
485th Judicial District Court
Steven Jumes - Fort Worth
Commissioner of Worker's Compensation
Jeff Nelson - Austin
State Independent Living Council
Rebecca "Hunter" Adkins - Lakeway
Erik Dally - Poolville
Eva Storey - Houston (reappointed)
Texas Emergency Services Retirement System Board of Trustees
Brian Smith - Austin
Pilar Rodriguez - Edinburg (reappointed)
Correctional Managed Health Care Committee
Kris Coons - San Antonio