Volume 11, Issue 21 - Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

There are often dire predictions about the U.S. housing marketplace. Experts in the commercial sector worry about interest rates, construction labor shortages, and declining demand. In the government housing marketplace, however, the concerns all center on the great demand for affordable housing, student housing on college and university campuses, and homeless shelters and public housing needs that are hard to meet because of constrained budgets.
Looking at housing starts in the public sector, it is hard to believe that the industry is going to be anything but robust over the next few years. Throughout the country, public officials are leading and launching housing projects of all types. If the current trend continues at its current pace, construction firms should carefully monitor planning efforts - especially at the local levels of government.
The upcoming opportunities are diverse, and they may be found in every state. The city council of Huntington Beach, California, just last month voted to buy an old two-story warehouse located in a light industrial area. The city will repurpose the facility as a 75- to 90-bed homeless shelter. A mix of funding has already been secured. The city will use $223,607 from a Community Development Block Grant, $766,905 of revolving loan funds, and a budget transfer of about $125,000 from city programs. Not only will the city seek a construction partner, but city leaders also want to find an independent shelter operator to oversee the facility and assist with finalizing operating costs and funding for the project.

The city of Newton, Massachusetts, plans to convert the historic West Newton Armory into affordable housing units. Approval has already been granted for the city to purchase the building, and a public-private partnership engagement is envisioned. City officials want to partner with a developer or a development group willing to be responsible for renovation and then operation of the completed facility. 

Check out the latest article from our Texas Government Insider Newsletter!
Courtesy of Steve Wilson
Colorado - The Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) have set course on a request for proposals (RFP) this summer for a feasibility study on a proposed 173-mile passenger rail system linking Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins to Denver.

Through this study, the Passenger Rail Commission and CDOT will identify different multimodal options to expand transportation options for the front range, as population along the corridor continues to grow. The system includes 85 percent of Colorado's population.

Cost estimates for a line from Fort Collins to Pueblo were in the $5 billion to $15 billion range two years ago and based on studies several years old. Officials said the feasibility study would expedite federal requirements by streamlining multiple processes for a rail passenger service development plan and environmental review.

"The Commission is excited to explore how passenger rail can bring sustainable and real congestion relief along our Front Range," said Jill Gaebler, Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Chair, in a press release. "As our population grows, the I-25 corridor will continue to be a vital link to our economy, moving people and goods while improving connectivity and allowing Colorado to flourish."
Port Authority Bus Terminal
New York - The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released a 181-page scoping document on May 23 that identifies three options for replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. One option outlined in the scoping document is to rebuild the terminal on its current site. Another suggests converting the lower level of the Jacob Javits Center into an underground bus terminal. A third option considers moving long-haul intercity bus operations to Javits' lower level.

Included in the document is an environmental review that signals the start of public outreach for what is expected to be a multi-billion dollar effort to address issues at the world's busiest bus terminal. The Authority stated that the facility is suffering under the weight of growing demand in light of its aging infrastructure and systems, problems caused by obsolete assets and facilities, and capacity constraints.

This "kickoff of the formal public outreach process for the new bus terminal is a critical milestone for what will be one of the largest and most important transit infrastructure projects in the country," Port Authority Chairman Kevin O'Toole said in a press release. "We are strongly committed to replacing this legacy, over-capacity facility, and look forward to a spirited dialogue with all stakeholders on how the project will proceed."

The existing Port Authority Bus Terminal was built in 1950 and expanded in 1981. The terminal now serves an estimated 260,000 passenger trips on weekdays. Demand is expected to increase by 30 percent, with up to 337,000 weekday passenger trips by 2040, as forecast by regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
Proposed U.S. 380 bypass route
Texas - The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has restructured its five previous alignment plans for U.S. 380 in Collin County into one that includes a 33-mile bypass from the Denton County border to the Hunt County line.

Prosper is the start of TxDOT's suggested alignment for the bypass that would travel east until it hits McKinney where it turns north. Then, it would veer east at Bloomdale Road until it reaches U.S. 75. At that point it would curve south and rejoin U.S. 380.

Officials said the recommended alignment is expected to cost $2.6 billion. After collecting public input, TxDOT officials said they are targeting this spring to finalize a project implementation plan including recommended alignments. Before starting construction, state coordinators would divvy the bypass into separate projects and rank them in order to commission an environmental study and design schematics.
Kentucky - A state transportation cabinet unveiled a 100-bridge design-build project for the eastern part of the state on May 22 under the Bridging Kentucky Program.
According to the Bridging Kentucky website, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) will release a request for qualifications (RFQ) in early June from design-build teams interested in participating in the project, which includes a list of approximately 100 bridges that will be replaced. After receiving responses, the state will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to qualified respondents to select a design-build team later this year.

"We have a large concentration of bridges that need to be replaced in eastern Kentucky. More than half of the bridges in the program are located east of Interstate 75," Program Manager Royce Meredith said in a press release. "By combining these projects into one larger design-build project, we expect to reduce construction costs for the program. We also expect that having a single team building these bridges will improve coordination among the tightly clustered projects and lessen the impact on travelers."

The KYTC oversees the six-year Bridging Kentucky Program that will rehabilitate, repair, or replace more than 1,000 bridges across the state in an effort to improve safety, access, and mobility. The initiative will invest $700 million to restore bridges with the highest priority needs in order to reopen many closed structures and increase their load ratings. Construction started on some projects in fall 2018, and officials said they plan to shift more than 400 bridge projects from the design and planning phase to construction this year. The program's goal is to deliver all projects to construction by 2024.
Austin Convention Center
Texas - Momentum is building for a proposed expansion of the Austin Convention Center with a unanimous vote by the City Council for a $1.2 billion plan on May 23.

Councilmembers authorized city staff to research financing for the expansion as the next step in the process. The council's vote represents a recent shift in support for the project after a resolution by City Councilmember Kathie Tovo directed staff to act on a $1.5 billion option that was part of The University of Texas at Austin study released in March.

The option calls for demolition and rebuilding on the current Convention Center site and expanding its footprint in the process. The project would build a new center west of Trinity, demolish the existing facility east of Trinity, and orient the new facility toward the Waller Creek Corridor while preserving the historic Palm School. Other features would include a new pedestrian promenade at Neches Street, one block for public event space, one block for a public-private partnership opportunity, a new public pavilion on the park, and below-grade service and parking.
Arizona - A new elementary school and a second gifted academy will be among the items Chandler Unified School District officials are scheduled to review June 12 as they consider a proposed $293 million bond election this year.

Prompted by capacity concerns at several of its elementary campuses that serve Gilbert, Arizona, district officials recommended shifting students, administration, and staff members from Weinberg Elementary to the new elementary school, temporarily titled Elementary #31.

A new high school facility is under consideration as well with $18 million in additional funds available from the Arizona School Facilities Board for a new campus that could accept up to 1,064 students.
Nebraska - A quarter-cent increase in Lincoln's sales tax is expected to generate $13 million annually for six years that will fund street repairs.

City officials say two out of three residential streets in Lincoln are in need of repairs, three of 10 require rehabilitation and one in 10 needs to be completely replaced. They estimate the new source of funding could help repair 300 blocks of these streets each year.

Ballot language for the recent sales tax election mandated at least one-fourth of all road maintenance sales tax dollars be allocated to new, non-residential street work. A minimum of 1.5 percent of the new sales tax revenues must go to improvements at 33rd Street and Cornhusker Highway.

Bidding on these projects will begin in December, and construction is scheduled to start in spring 2020. Although the additional sales tax does not take effect until October, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said residents will see street work across the city with existing funds from Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU). Projects include 96 blocks of residential rehabilitation, improvements to three major arterial streets, implementation of Phase 3 of Green Light Lincoln, and the use of impact fees to extend east "A" Street and expand intersections of east Van Dorn. A complete list of LTU projects is available online.
Proposed high school site
Utah - Wasatch County School District is preparing for the county's surging population by holding a $150 million bond election to build a second high school and replace its Midway Elementary School.

The second high school would be built on district land. The new elementary school would be located on district property south of the current Midway Elementary building.

After gathering public input, district officials said they anticipate a final bond proposal would be ready by August.
Rendering of Probasco Auditorium
Ohio - The University of Cincinnati is planning to add three new buildings to keep up with enrollment that jumped 24 percent in 10 years.

To launch the instructional space initiative, board members recently approved a request for qualifications (RFQ) for an architect to design Clifton Court Hall, an $86.5 million classroom building. The RFQ is the first of many requests the university is scheduled to issue for this project. After they select an architect, university officials will solicit applicants to serve as a local architect of record, supporting engineer, landscape architect, civil engineer, and other partners. The deadline for architect responses is 2 p.m. June 18. Clifton Court Hall's design is expected to begin this fall and take 12 months to complete. Construction would start in fall 2020 and finish before fall 2022 classes begin.

In addition to the hall, the university plans to transform the interior of a vacant church into the Probasco Auditorium with additional classroom space and seating for more than 330 in the auditorium. The $8.5 million project is expected to be ready for fall 2021. A $2.5 million annex for the university's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) is in the planning stages to house both the school's fine arts and art education graduate studios in one space. Officials expect it to open spring 2020.
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Idaho - City of Lewiston voters approved $42 million in water system improvements and $29 million in wastewater improvements on May 21 by a 9-1 margin. City officials, however, reminded councilmembers that more work remains to be done.

The bonds will have no impact on anyone's taxes. Current utility service rates have already been set to cover debt payments. The city also has been approved for a low-interest loan and grant from the State Revolving Loan Fund.

The water bond will help renovate Lewiston's treatment plant and construct a new well and reservoir in a system that engineers estimate is 76 percent beyond its useful life. The wastewater referendum will support the replacement of obsolete equipment and repairs to a system that is 70 percent beyond its useful life.

Some of Lewiston's pipe system, however, dates back more than 100 years. Improvements to the aging distribution system were not covered in either bond package, so Public Works officials are recommending additional rate increases to City Council.
Rendering of Healthy Life Center
Iowa - The city of Ames is considering a $29.1 million bond election on Sept. 10 for a new Healthy Life Center.

According to city documents, the overall project cost of the new facility is estimated at $48.6 million, but several capital funding sources would offset the costs by $20 million. The city's available balance of $2 million would add to a local medical center's offer of $7 million, donors would contribute $5.5 million, a senior services center would add $3.5 million, and Story County would provide $2 million.

The Healthy Life Center would include an aquatic center and therapy pool, exercise facilities, child care and activity areas, physical therapy and medical rehabilitation facilities, room for care and services for senior citizens, and public meeting spaces. Bond funds also would cover construction costs for needed public infrastructure improvements.

City officials said that Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen supports the university leasing property for the site of the Healthy Life Center, but the Board of Regents must grant approval.
Moorestown High School
New Jersey - Board members at Moorestown Township Public Schools will put a $25.7 million bond before voters this November.

Funds will go toward $7.9 in new construction, $4.5 million in interior renovations, $4.3 million in HVAC work, and $2.8 million in electrical upgrades. More than $2.2 million will fund high school site improvements, and $1.1 million will pay for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten conversions. Exterior renovations would receive $943,750, and security enhancements would get $937,500.

Local taxes would raise $18.96 million of the total amount, and the state of New Jersey would contribute the remaining $6.69 million.
Courtesy: Maryland Governor's Office
Maryland - Howard County leaders are planning a tunnel as part of $140 million in flood relief efforts for Ellicott City. The historic, unincorporated community suffered deadly floods in 2016 and 2018.

The plan calls for demolishing four buildings on Main Street in order to construct the 15-foot diameter concrete tunnel that will serve as a bypass for stream water hitting downtown.

Officials said the county would establish a public-private partnership to build the tunnel. Solicitations gathered through a request for proposals would produce more details about the tunnel's design and route. Possible sources of funding would be outside contributions or bond money from future capital budgets.
River Forest Community Center
Illinois - Village of River Forest officials are weighing two options for a new or renovated River Forest Community Center Authority facility.

The first option would be to preserve the center's gym and add a three-story section and parking lot. The other possibility is to construct a level of parking underneath a new two-story, 52,000-square-foot center.

Village trustees selected a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study that would help develop a recommended process and cost.

Arkansas - Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Amy Fecher as the state's first secretary of Transformation and Shared Services, a consolidated technology department that will begin operations July 1. Fecher currently serves the state as the chief transformation officer of the Governor's Office of Transformation. She also is executive vice president of operations at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and Governor Hutchinson's designee to the Delta Regional Authority's Board of Governors. She has worked for more than 15 years in the public and not-for-profit sector. Fecher was director of the Arkansas Department of Rural Services, and she served in former Gov. Mike Huckabee's administration.

Ohio - Mike Gasser, board chairman at The Ohio State University, on May 24 announced his resignation, effective immediately. Gasser was appointed in 2012 to a term scheduled to end in 2021. He serves as executive chairman of the board of an industrial shipping container company where he began as an internal auditor in 1979.

New Mexico - Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed Todd Christensen as the next director of the New Mexico Film Office. Christensen was previously the office's locations manager. He takes over for interim director Rochelle Bussey who moves to a position as senior operations manager for the Film Office. Christensen has scouted and managed locations for all the major motion picture studios and completed 10 movies in New Mexico.

California - San Francisco State University will welcome Lynn Mahoney as its new president starting on July 15. The university's board of trustees appointed Mahoney on May 22 to succeed outgoing president Leslie Wong who announced his retirement last October. Mahoney is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University in Los Angeles. She previously served as associate vice president for undergraduate studies and interim vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies at California State University in Long Beach. Her additional experience includes leadership roles at State University of New York at Purchase as associate provost for integrative learning, vice president for students, and faculty member.

West Virginia - The city of Weston selected Chad Minnick as its new city manager. Minnick, who began in his new role in May, began his professional career with the city of Huntington as a program assistant in the city's Public Works Department. He then advanced to become a stormwater program coordinator for Huntington and then the city of Martinsburg in 2017.

Kentucky - Linda Edwards is stepping down as executive director for business development, sales, and marketing for Kentucky Ventures after 25 years in the Louisville tourism industry. Kentucky Ventures oversees the Kentucky Exposition Center and the Kentucky International Convention Center.

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