AIA chapter helping Box City vision to take shape

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The AIA Colorado South chapter is hosting a “Box City” event for elementary school children April 25 at Hillside Community Center.

As a part of Colorado Architecture Month, AIA Colorado sponsored 10 special events throughout the state designed to familiarize the public with what architects do and why their work is important to America’s cities and culture.

Locally, AIA Colorado South chapter president R.J. Steer of Centennial Collaborative Architects and Stuart Coppedge of RTA Architects organized a “Box City” event that will take place April 25 at the Hillside Community Center gymnasium.

Children in kindergarten through fifth grade (accompanied by adults) will meet with architects and experience the design and construction industry firsthand — requesting permits, ordering materials, designing buildings and constructing those buildings into a cardboard city.

AIA Colorado South also is hosting a Dream City Vision 2020 discussion group at the same time as the Box City event, giving the students a chance to decide how they want Colorado Springs to look in the future.

Glass specialists sign lease

Integrated Glass Services, a local firm specializing in glass replacement, mirrors and shower enclosures, has leased 2,000 square feet of light industrial space in the Cimarron Service Center at 2275-D Waynoka Road.

Charley Conrad of Olive Real Estate Group Inc. represented the landlord, Craig Investments LLC, and Mike Helwege of Bach Real Estate Partners represented the tenant.

Locators get new location

Underground Locators has consolidated its operations and leased about 7,000 square feet of space at 1805 S. Murray Blvd.

Peak Commercial Properties broker John Rodgers represented the tenant and David Bacon and Aaron Horn represented the landlord, JBS Family Enterprises LLLP.

Underground Locators provides utility locating services to companies such as Comcast and Qwest.

More leases

R.P. Machining has expanded its 2,500 square foot machine shop at 409 Auburn Drive to 5,000 square feet.

John Rodgers of Peak Commercial Properties represented the tenant and the landlord, Paige Real Estate LLC.

The State of Colorado has leased 6,887 square feet on behalf of Colorado State University at Pueblo at 730 Citadel Drive East, in the UMB Bank building, for classroom and office space.

The state was represented by Mary Frances Cowan and the landlord, UMB Bank, represented itself.

Construction a bargain now

The latest producer price index report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the price of materials used in highway and street construction has dropped 7 percent during the past year.

Materials for other heavy construction are nearly 6 percent less and those for nonresidential buildings are 2.6 percent less expensive.

That bodes well for the state, which is moving ahead with $500 million worth of roadway, bridge and transit projects, including $35 million in improvements to Woodmen Road in El Paso County.

Decreasing economic activity has brought producer prices down by 62 percent for diesel, 37 percent for copper and brass mill shapes, and 15 percent for steel mill products, the Associated General Contractors of America said in a statement.

Contractors, already facing increased competition for a shrinking number of overall projects, have been forced to cut their margins, further adding to lower-than-expected bid prices on public projects.

“The price declines make this a great time for public agencies and private owners alike to start construction projects, particularly because this ‘limited-time sale’ may not last much longer,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, adding that copper and diesel prices have recently increased, and steel markets are sending mixed signals.

“Agencies with federal stimulus funds for construction should put them to work promptly,” he said.

Taxpayer support surprising

As the dollars begin to roll into state highway departments from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Recovery Act of 2009 — more than $422 million has been allocated for the Colorado Department of Transportation — it’s an eye-opener to learn that 68 percent of Americans said they were willing to pay higher taxes to support highway and bridge maintenance and new construction.

In fact, they “overwhelmingly believed the nation’s infrastructure is crumbling and indicated they were willing to spend more of their tax dollars to fix it,” according to a report by Associated Construction Publications.

The study, commissioned by HNTB Corp., also showed that average Americans would part with $22 a month to reduce the time they spend in traffic by 20 percent.

When asked specifically about infrastructure spending in the economic stimulus package, 60 percent of respondents said highway and bridge maintenance and new construction was most important to them, followed far behind by public transit maintenance and construction (21 percent), and improving safety and congestion at airports (8 percent).

The nationwide survey, which was conducted earlier this month, found that 81 percent of respondents agree that making sacrifices to pay for infrastructure improvements now will make the difference between a more prosperous or a more difficult future for the next generation.

Becky Hurley covers real estate for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.