California– The Salton Sea continues to shrink, but while the waters recede the problems continue to flood in. The previously submerged lake bed (referred to as “playa”) is creating dust that can be hazardous when it becomes airborne. Officials have created a 10-year plan to address air quality and environmental threats from the Salton Sea. The plan was initially funded by the approval of Proposition 1 in 2014 and an additional voter approved $200 million dollars this past June. Phase one of the plan focuses on creating wetlands and other projects to suppress the dust and create new habitats.
An agreement reached by the California Water Resources Control Board last November painted a shared vision among the state, water agencies and environmental organizations for projects and activities over the next 10 years. The California Department of Water Resources is refining its organizational structure to put new resources and expertise in place to centralize and accelerate the design and implementation of critical dust-suppression and habitat projects. A request for qualifications will be issued before the end of 2018 for a project to create deep habitat on the sea’s southern end to support fish and wildlife.
North Carolina– Wake County voters approved more than $1.1 billion in bonds for new school construction and park projects. County officials stated that the new bonds will help the county with more economic development opportunities and make the area a greater attraction for businesses. Broken down, $548 million will be used for the Wake County school system on new construction projects, including seven new schools, 11 major renovations and upgrades to security and computers. Voters could be asked to decide on another school bond referendum as soon as 2020 since county leaders opted to go with two smaller referenda rather than one large one this year.
Another $349.1 million will be used to construct new buildings and provide repairs and accessibility upgrades for Wake Technical Community College. Some of those new buildings include a health science building, a public safety simulation building, an auto and collision repair facility and a 1,200-space parking garage for its Research Triangle Park campus. Additionally, $120 million in bond money was approved for parks, open space and recreation construction in the county. The parks bond would go toward acquiring 1,800 acres for future parks and open space, building 15 miles of greenways and renovating existing parks. Those renovations could range from small projects like adding new benches to larger projects like adding a nature or education center.
Florida- The city of Port St. Lucie is developing a new master plan for the city-owned Tradition Center of Commerce. Experts are examining how the 1,161-acre Tradition Jobs Corridor along Interstate 95 can thrive. This process will involve looking at the existing 6-year-old development plans. The original plan for this area was a 3.7 million-square-foot mall, but with online shopping on the rise, this idea is being called an archaic vision.
The city community redevelopment director envisions a new plan, with an emphasis on small scale retail shopping with a boutique-like feel. The city is also seeking a private partner to develop a recreational complex in the Tradition Jobs Corridor. Officials are slated to make a recommendation regarding other plans to develop 4.5 million square feet of industrial space, 2.5 million square feet of research-and-office space and another 2.4 million square feet of office space in the area in order to achieve the best value.
New York– New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has launched a pilot program, titled ShareNYC, that will encourage the development of affordable co-living projects with the help of city funds. The program will seek proposals for private development sites, and particularly favor those that offer units for very low-income New Yorkers. Most of the co-living units will have bedrooms that range in size from 150 to 400 square feet, both private and shared bathrooms, and a shared living room and kitchen. The city will also entertain proposals that have a mix of affordable and market-rate units.
The city’s pilot program includes a request for information (RFI) and/or expressions of interest (RFEI) where developers will be asked to outline how they plan to design, build and manage these co-living spaces. The city has set a deadline of March 14, 2019 for the proposals and is hosting a conference on Nov. 30 this year for applicants to get more information on the pilot program. The new apartments will be part of the city’s Affordable Housing 2.0 agenda to create and preserve 300,000 affordable homes in the city by 2026.