Volume 9, Issue 12 - March 22, 2017
Interested in upcoming opportunities? Best not to overlook thousands resulting from bond elections
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
General contractors, engineers and architectural firms watch school bond elections carefully because the bond packages represent upcoming opportunities worth billions of dollars. One must wonder why thousands of other types of firms are not watching bond elections as diligently also. 

When a bond referendum is passed at any jurisdictional level, the contracting opportunities are not only large, they are diverse and almost every one of them has a component for small and/or minority business participation. The volume of projects funded just through school bond elections is staggering. For example, Texas voters will decide on more than $5.5 billion in just school bonds alone in May. Oklahoma, a much smaller state, saw voters approve more than $900 million in school bond elections in 2016.

Public school districts are being forced to build new facilities, renovate older ones and expand into new campuses because of population growth. Many school buildings are more than 50 years old. They are inefficient, security is scant and the technology must be upgraded.

Here are just a few examples of school bond issues that were either recently approved or are up for approval in May of this year.

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Bridges provide drivers with a safe passage over water, roadways, train tracks and other obstacles using materials such as wood, steel, iron, concrete, cement and more. But building or fixing one of these connections can be time consuming and costly. 

This month Senate Transportation Chairman Willie Simmons announced that over the course of a week federal inspectors had closed more than 100 bridges on local roads in the state. A bill that was introduced this year in Mississippi would have raised transportation money through an internet sales tax. Projections showed that collections could have generated an annual revenue of between $50 million and $175 million for needed repairs. The bill was not approved, but a House bond bill that would let the state borrow $50 million for repairs is still hanging on. 

For the second time in a row, America's infrastructure has earned a grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). ASCE issues these report cards every four years, grading the state of U.S. bridges, dams, parks, airports, railroads and other vital links.

The United States has 614,837 bridges, of which almost 40 percent are at 50 years or older. According to ASCE, on average there were 188 million trips across structurally deficient bridges daily in 2016.The term "structurally deficient" does not mean a bridge is about to fall down, but indicates one in need of repair or rebuilding. Further deterioration could mean a bridge must be limited to certain load levels or closed.

Upcoming contracting opportunities

Colorado- The Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority issued a request for proposals seeking a design-build team for the Pueblo Convention Center expansion and parking garage. The project includes the design and construction of a 28,000-square-foot exhibit hall, an 18,000-square-foot sports performance center, a Professional Bull Riders (PBR) training center, a parking garage and a pedestrian sky bridge. 

The project is expected to cost $23.4 million with $12.1 million for the exhibit hall and PBR training center, $7.5 million for the parking garage and sky bridge and $4.3 million for site improvements and infrastructure. The parking garage was originally planned for a later phase but the state's pledge of $35 million of state sales tax revenue is being delivered at a faster pace than expected and that allowed the project to move up. Applications are due by April 14, and the subcommittee of Urban Renewal commissioners will announce a decision by April 28.
Massachusetts- The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Department of Energy Resources have issued an energy storage solicitation offering up to $10 million for new projects. MassCEC plans to issue about 10 to 15 awards for projects with $100,000 to $1.25 million available in matching funds for each project. 

Applicants submitting proposals for an award must provide business models that showcase the commercial value of energy storage, provide specific local energy challenges and opportunities that grow the state's energy storage economy and contribute at least 50 percent of total project cost. About half of the money available will be administered for projects that include utility partners. Responses to this request for proposal are due June 9 and it is expected that winners will be chosen by Sept. 8 with contracts issued in the following month.
Hawaii- The Employees' Retirement System (ERS) of the state of Hawaii is soliciting proposals for a qualified firm to provide domestic and international general investment consulting services to the ERS. 

The consulting firm must be United States based, registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, been in business for a minimum of seven years and have at least one defined benefit public pension fund client with assets greater than $5 billion. The primary consultant to be assigned to the ERS must have a minimum of ten years experience providing domestic and international investment consulting services to public pension plans.
Illinois- Four vacant buildings that are owned by the federal government have been put out to bid by the city of Chicago. All four buildings involved in the request for proposals (RFP) are located in the Loop Retail Historic District, which is listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. 

Only renovations will be accepted for the buildings, which were acquired by the federal government in 2005. The buildings will be sold in a three-way transaction between the General Services Administration, the city and the private developer. The buildings are located on State Street and are open to several uses that include hotels, residential, student housing, classrooms and office space. Given the significance of the buildings and their historical background, respondents to the RFP should have extensive experience preserving and re-using historic landmark buildings. Responses are due May 1 and the selection of the developer will be made on May 24. 
Rhode Island- The Rhode Island Department of Transportation's (RIDOT) 10-year transportation plan has $40 million set aside for reconstruction, with an expected start date in 2019. The plan includes reconfiguring the Newport-Pell Bridge ramps to relieve congestion and provide quicker access to the town center. 

The RhodeWorks program entails complete removal of the viaduct infrastructure and the construction of four roundabouts to move traffic from the bridge into downtown and reconnect city streets. This would open up 34 acres for development and provide a roadway network for future development. The plan also includes a park-and-ride, rail shuttle and bike path. According to RIDOT, the bridge and ramps carry more than 40,000 vehicles per day during peak summer season with delays spreading out up to a mile.
California- The San Francisco (SFO) International Airport issued a request for proposals (RFP) for eleven duty-free and luxury stores concession. The proposer must deliver a strong commercial vision, demonstrate expertise and provide passenger experience at SFO that is competitive with the world's leading international terminals. 

The base term is approximately 14 years, plus a period of up to 365 days for construction of tenant improvements. For each year of the lease, the base rent is the greater of the minimal annual guarantee (MAG) or percentage rent offered by the winning bidder. The MAG for the first year will be $42 million, adjusted annually. Bids close on Sept. 15.
Arizona- The Arizona Coyotes and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday threatened to move the franchise out of Arizona if the Legislature does not approve $225 million in public financing for a new arena in downtown Phoenix or the East Valley. Bettman sent a three-page letter to state Senate president Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard encouraging them to push through a public-financing bill that is stalled in the Senate amid a lack of support from lawmakers. 

Both potential locations present better business opportunities for the team, which is currently located in Glendale. Because Glendale's location has been plagued by poor attendance and legal challenges regarding the lease arrangement, the Coyotes lease agreement with Glendale expires June 30 and will not be renewed. Arizona State University originally had an agreement with the team to build an arena in Tempe but the university pulled out of the deal last month.
News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Missouri- The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) projects that reconstructing and expanding I-70 in the state will cost at least $2 billion. However, there are no current initiatives to fix the highway as the proposed overall budget for MoDOT is $2.3 billion. The lack of funding has led to no bills being filed in the Legislature this year regarding I-70. 

Among the possibilities for funding the interstate's infrastructure are toll roads, a gas tax increase or a public-private partnership. Improvements for the highway are desperately needed as I-70 was only intended to carry up to 18,000 vehicles per day - far less than the 28,000 vehicles currently utilizing the road daily. The cost to operate and maintain I-70 in its current state is about $50 million per year.
Massachusetts- The Boston Housing Authority recently announced that it is seeking proposals from private developers to rebuild a portion of the Jamaica Plain housing development's 804 units of federally subsidized public housing. The need for a public-private partnership arose when it became clear that there was no federal money available for the rebuild. This proposal specifies that six deteriorating buildings on Centre, Parker and Lamartine streets would be torn down and the residents of the 232 subsidized units in those buildings would be able to reside in new buildings without facing rent hikes. 

The builder would also be allowed to build units that could be rented by anyone at the prevailing market rate. The request for proposals for this project marks the first phase of a long-term project that housing officials hope will result in the redevelopment of the entire apartment complex. There have been similar projects around the state. The Bunker Hill Housing Development in Charlestown is undergoing a redevelopment process and another request for proposals is expected to be announced for the Mary Ellen McCormack developments in South Boston. If the partnership approach is successful, it could mean about $1 billion of private investment to maintain about 2,300 to 2,400 affordable housing units.
Michigan- The Birmingham City Commission issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) seeking a developer to replace the North Old Woodward parking structure with an eight-story parking facility, a possible retail component and 400 new parking spaces. The RFQ also outlines the possibility of developing two five-story office buildings, one on North Old Woodward and the other on Willits, and a five-story residential complex behind the deck overlooking the Rogue River. Each of the three new developments will contain some kind of underground parking. 

The project would have to extend Bates Street from Willits to North Old Woodward to improve connectivity between the buildings. The extension, with its 30-feet-wide sidewalks, could attract people to the area as well as independent retailers. The project also calls for a public plaza near the condos and a pedestrian bridge over the Rouge River that connects the site to Booth Park. Developers are expected to be well versed in public-private partnerships and must attend a mandatory meeting in April. Results of the RFQ will be reviewed in May.
North Carolina- Mattamuskeet Lodge, a tourist attraction in North Carolina offering premier hunting and fishing grounds, is a state owned building that has seen budget shortfalls suspend its restoration. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission suggests that partnering with private businesses may be the way to the lodge's revival. 

The proposal outlines complete renovations and opportunities for companies to operate the lodge. In addition, partnership opportunities may be available to tour and guide companies. About $8 million is required to finish the restoration process which was halted in the mid-2000's after a business plan by tourism experts showed that the costs of operations outweighed the revenue. 

However, under public-private partnerships, businesses could be integrated into a "hub" model that promotes traditional uses of the building and additional revenue could be made through licensing and marketing the Mattamuskeet brand. The commission plans to get feedback from legislators on a proposal. Once more information is nailed down, the project will be put out for competitive bids.
Massachusetts- The city of Boston revealed its Go Boston 2030 Vision and Action Plan, which will shape the city's transportation agenda for the next 15 years. The plan consists of 58 separate initiatives that reach a total cost of $4.7 billion. 

The plan lists three primary goals: connecting Boston's neighborhoods for all modes of travel, reducing collisions and reallocating street space to prioritize safety and providing reliable and predictable travel on public transportation and roadways. Although implementation or sources of funding are not concrete, the plan outlines implementation goals, approximate costs, potential funding sources, time frames for projects and assigns initiatives to specific agencies. 

About 12 of the 58 projects likely need funding from private partners. These projects include the expansion of the bike sharing network, the creation of a consolidated smart shuttle service and the creation of new Silver Line transfer points at Downtown Crossing and South Station. Currently, if a developer proposes a large project, they are required to file a transportation access plan agreement with the city that allows for transportation investment adjacent to the project. This process is being reconsidered. The new process would have developers contribute to a shared funding pool that would allow the funds to finance transportation improvements outside of adjacent areas.
Colorado- The city of Boulder purchased the former Pollard Friendly Motor Co. site in 2004 for $9.5 million and has recently released a request for proposals for the construction of apartments and townhouses on the 4.3-acre property. 

The city council has directed that a third of the units will target the low to moderate income demographic, meaning households earning between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income. Another third will target middle income earners - those at 80 to 150 percent of the median income - and the final third will be at market rate. Responses must be submitted by May 31.
Calendar of Events 

June 18-20
The 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit will be held June 18-20 at the Gaylord Hotel - National Harbor in Washington, D.C. The summit's theme "Grow with US" will highlight the
innovative business climate in the United States and feature investment opportunities from every corner of the country. Keynote speakers and panelists will lay out a clear roadmap of how businesses of any size, and any industry, can benefit and contribute to the U.S. economy. Register for the event here.
June 25-28
The Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo will take place June 25-28 at the Austin Convention Center. This Internet of Things technology trade show will include hands-on workshops and smart technology demonstrations. Areas of focus include connected buildings, urban mobility, advanced networks, governance, infrastructure, energy, resiliency, technology and data and citizen life. Register for the event here.
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