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    Another South U block demolished to make way for next Ann Arbor high-rise – MLive.com - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    ANN ARBOR, MI South University Avenue in Ann Arbor is looking a lot different these days as preparations are being made for the next student apartment high-rise.

    A row of one- and two-story buildings that for many years contributed to South Us funky and eclectic vibe home to businesses such as South U Pizza, Oasis Grill, Rendezvous Hookah Lounge, The Village Apothecary, PNC Bank and Underground Printing was demolished recently.

    All that remains standing on the south side of South U on the block between Church Street and East University Avenue now is Good Time Charleys and Catina, and theyre staying.

    Rising in the big, empty space next to them will be a 13-story apartment building called Vic Village South, complementing the Vic Village North high-rise across the street.

    It will join several other high-rises built in the South U area in recent years, all catering to University of Michigan students.

    Vic Village South will add nearly 130 more apartments with 300-plus beds, including 14 affordable housing units, said Sean Havera of Hughes Properties, the developer, which is working with general contractor The Christman Co.

    There will be four ground-floor commercial spaces in the new high-rise, some of which could be combined for a bigger business, Havera said.

    Tenants have not been identified yet.

    Underground Printing and PNC Bank moved into new ground-floor spaces created in the Vic Village North high-rise, which opened last year, and Oasis Grill moved down the street into a space previously occupied by China Gate.

    The high life: Inside Ann Arbors newest luxury apartment high-rise

    The family that owned Oasis Grill also owned South U Pizza and the Rendezvous Hookah Lounge, which closed about a year ago. The Village Apothecary closed five years ago.

    Work on an earth-retention system for Vic Village South is expected to begin in February and that will allow crews to finish excavating building foundations and start construction, which will last into summer 2023, Havera said.

    It wont be too difficult to start construction amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Havera said.

    Where were at with all of the work being outside, that helps, he said, indicating vertical construction is not expected until around next October and there will be an extensive amount of exterior work before interior work begins.

    The block of South U in front of the development has been reduced to a single traffic lane during construction.

    The new building will include two levels of below-grade parking and the developer has an agreement to lease about another 40 overnight parking spaces in a nearby public parking deck.

    Vic Village South will offer a different mix of floor plans and amenities than Vic Village North, Havera said, noting there will be some studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, in addition to higher-bed-count units that are attractive to larger groups of students wanting to live together.

    And while Vic Village North offers more of a standard fitness center, Vic Village South will have a CrossFit gym, Havera said, adding tenants of both buildings will have shared access to the amenities in both buildings, including tech lab spaces, study areas and rooftop lounges.

    Ann Arbors small-town look fading as downtown reaches toward sky

    Vic Village South will have a 13th-floor lounge and game room with an outdoor TV, grill and fireplace, similar to one of the upstairs lounge spaces at Vic Village North, Havera said.

    It will be the sixth student-focused apartment high-rise built in the South U area since 2009, following Zaragon Place, Landmark, ArborBLU, Six11 and Vic Village North.

    After Vic Village South, Hughes Properties plans to shift focus to its next planned high-rise development, Vic Village East, where the Middle Earth shop and Safe Sex Store on South U were demolished in recent years.

    Beyond the South U district, more apartment high-rises are planned downtown, including one underway at Main and William called The Standard, which is expected to open in fall 2022.

    MORE FROM THE ANN ARBOR NEWS:

    Before-and-after views of downtown Ann Arbors dramatic transformation

    Timeline: Ann Arbors downtown housing boom and whats to come

    1960s building boom introduced Ann Arbor to high-rise controversy

    Vintage photos showcase downtown Ann Arbors historical charm

    See plans for 3-story, mixed-use development proposed in Ann Arbor

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    Another South U block demolished to make way for next Ann Arbor high-rise - MLive.com

    The Pandemic Disproved Urban Progressives Theory About Gentrification – The Atlantic - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Whether in stagnant northern cities or in the booming Sun Belt, a wide array of groups thus had ample reason to oppose urban development. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, through the implementation of height limits, density restrictions, design review boards, mandatory community input, and other veto points in the development process, they achieved more victories than many of the initial participants thought possible. The broad-based nature of the anti-growth coalition was key to its success. Nature enthusiasts, architectural historians, homeowners, and rock-ribbed socialists all found it advantageous to portray developers as a shadowy, parasitic force in metropolitan politics. Politicians, for their part, were more than willing to position themselves as defenders of this broad array of neighborhood groups and their values. But the composition of the coalition also limited the scope of its activism. In particular, the centrality of homeowners within the anti-growth alliance meant that maintaining the stability of property values would always guide the direction of the movement overall. In the 1960s and 70s, when renting in cities was relatively affordable and owning a house was often not especially profitable, this dynamic posed no obvious problem. Environmentalists believed that they could seek to save their conservation areas, preservationists their historic districts, leftists their tenant protections, and homeowners their exclusive neighborhoods, all apparently without harming one anothers interests.

    These now-half-century-old arguments have had remarkable staying power well into a different era of urban history, one in which gentrification, rather than renewal, is the hot-button issue. Despite this shift, many still insist that neighborhood change remains inextricably linked to development. As Stringers reference to a gentrification-industrial complex indicates, critics have come to portray high-end shopping and glassy condos not as lagging indicators of local demographic change but as the causes thereof. The battle lines are drawn in the form of fights over discrete construction projects. Every politician wants to be seen as the second coming of Jane Jacobs, taking to the streets to block the bulldozers and save the soul of the neighborhood.

    But if gentrification is defined as a demographic transition toward wealthier, whiter residents, this approach makes for a poor policy response. This is because the forces that drive this kind of neighborhood change do not come from the construction of specific apartment buildings or retail complexes, no matter how many granite countertops or artisanal coffee shops they might contain. Instead, they result from a degree of demand for inner-city living that would have shocked the slow-growthers of the 1960sdemand that, for the most part, has been channeled not into new condos but into homes built before the first wave of anti-development activism. When white-collar firms began to re-concentrate downtown in the 1980s and 90s, their workers, soon priced out of elite neighborhoods, bought old homes in marginal areas and modified them to their liking. The people they displaced crowded into poorer quarters of the city, or moved to lower-end suburbs, or, often, left for more affordable parts of the country altogether.

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    The Pandemic Disproved Urban Progressives Theory About Gentrification - The Atlantic

    The Sydney apartment tribes reshaping the harbour city – Sydney Morning Herald - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    They reflect significant changes over the past decade in the way Sydney houses its population of 5.3 million. About 15 per cent of NSW's population, or 1.12 million people the vast bulk of whom are in Sydney now live in apartments, compared with 8 per cent of Victoria's population and 7 per cent of Queensland's.

    Over the past decade, 258,000 apartments have been built in NSW, which translates into an extra 500,000 people living in units.

    What has not been well known is exactly who lives in them. A paucity of information spurred the University of NSW's City Futures Research Centre to embark on a project to map the socio-economic make-up of people in Sydney's apartments.

    It dispels common perceptions of the social fabric of Sydney's apartment dwellers. "If you look at the marketing most developers have, there is a young couple sipping chardonnay gazing over the city," said Bill Randolph, head of City Futures.

    He argues it has resulted in many apartment towers built in recent decades failing to cater for the people who end up living in them. "The bulk of the stock is two-bedroom, investment-grade units. And the majority of apartments are owned by investors," he said.

    The mapping identified about five groups living in the city's apartments. As Sydney's population grows, an understanding of these tribes will become crucial for determining planning policy and ultimately tailoring apartments to suit the people who call them home.

    By far the largest tribe comprises the "economically engaged". They make up half the citys apartment households and their abodes tend to be east of Olympic Park in areas such as south Sydney. "Obviously if you want to be a first homebuyer in Sydney and want to live east of Strathfield, you have to be living in a flat or an apartment," Professor Randolph said.

    Those in the largest tribe tend to be in full-time professional jobs, on higher incomes and from English-speaking nationalities. Most are either mortgage-holders or private renters, and their households tend not to suffer from overcrowding. The tribe has grown significantly over the past decade, swollen by the arrival of first-home buyers and private renters.

    The second-largest group comprises the young, jobless or under-employed a group barely evident in the data on apartment dwellers a decade ago.

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    Professor Randolph said the group dubbed "the young, un(der)employed" emerged as a result of the investor-led boom in apartment construction. It is dominated by people aged between 15 and 24, many from north-east and south-east Asian backgrounds. Group households are also over-represented and some endure overcrowding, which the research suggests means room sharing is likely to be common. Many of them work in low-paid service jobs in the central city. All up, they account for 10 per cent of apartment households.

    The third-largest tribe accounts for 8 per cent of households in Sydney's apartments. This group of "battlers" and migrant families is characterised by households on low to moderate incomes, many from south and central Asia, north Africa and the Middle East.

    Several years ago, Al Turnbull and Maggie Korenblium, both 31, had difficulty finding an apartment in the private rental market that would suit their growing family.

    "Once you add in Sydney rent and Sydney childcare costs, you can take away what looks like middle-class earnings," Mr Turnbull said. "It can take you to the wall."

    Maggie Korenblium. Al Turnbull and their young children Esme and Hamish outside their Pyrmont apartment building.Credit:Wolter Peeters

    The couple had been living in a one-bedroom apartment in Petersham in the inner west for 18 months. They had just welcomed their daughter, Esme, and started to weigh their options because their apartment was too small.

    "I was preparing for two very lean years," Mr Turnbull said.

    Fortunately, an application they made to an affordable housing provider was accepted and they have since been able to rent a larger two-bedroom apartment at Pyrmont.

    Their rent fluctuates depending on household income. "That is the thing that is the lifesaver," he said. "I'm happy to be out of the private rental market."

    Tenants Union of NSW chief executive Leo Patterson-Ross said developers typically built two-bedroom apartments because they were the most profitable, which often resulted in families having to split or crowd into units because it was the only housing on offer.

    "What we are not good at in Australia is finding out what the tenants want," he said.

    "We don't tend to ask people what they want from their housing, and that is the real challenge. What we don't have at the bottom of the market is genuine competition. Landlords aren't having to compete with each other. It's the tenants having to compete for housing."

    Older public housing tenants comprise the fourth largest tribe at 6 per cent of households in apartments. Most are single occupants, aged over 65 and are on low incomes.

    Mr Patterson-Ross said the waiting list and the profile of the people on it tended to drive government strategy on public housing. "They assume that once you are on the waiting list as a single person, that you are never going to move on or have a family," he said.

    More than 51,000 are on the waiting list for social housing in NSW, including more than 5000 on a "priority" list. In some cases, people can be on it for decades, and a large increase in supply will be needed to dent wait times.

    "It should be that you have a waiting time of maybe a couple of months before the right kind of housing becomes vacant. That is what a healthy public housing system would look like," Mr Patterson-Ross said.

    Finally, established owners and downsizers mostly those over 65 make up the smallest tribe in Sydney's apartments. They comprise just 3 per cent of households in apartments.

    Peter and Lindy Blackhall downsized to an apartment from a four-bedroom house.Credit:Janie Barrett

    Neutral Bay apartment owners Peter Blackhall, 72, and wife Lindy, 70, are happy down-sizers. They moved out of a four-bedroom home, which included a swimming pool, garage and lawns, about eight years ago, largely due to the large number of hours they had to spend maintaining it.

    "It was just too much work," Mr Blackhall said. "We had all this room four bedrooms, two bathrooms. We weren't really utilising the facilities."

    The retirees now enjoy breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline from their two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a 50-year-old building on the lower north shore. "They will be carrying my wife and I out of this building in a box," Mr Blackhall said.

    While downsizing is often talked about as a phenomenon, Professor Randolph said the number of older people who sold their houses to move into to apartments was small, and tended to be an "upmarket group" who shifted into buildings near Sydney Harbour.

    Over the past decade, construction of apartment towers has transformed Sydney's skyline, especially in areas such as Rhodes, Wentworth Point, Meadowbank, Green Square and Mascot.

    As the apartment market matures, Professor Randolph expects a shift away from large towers to smaller blocks. "In a sense, the apartment market might be set for a reset over the next five years, perhaps with less of a focus on the investor," he said.

    "The anecdotal evidence is that developers are looking to build much more to sell to first-home buyers because the investor market has been on the nose."

    The evacuation of the Opal Tower, in the foreground, two years ago due to cracking led to a shake-up of building regulations.Credit:Janie Barrett

    NSW's residential construction crisis, sparked by the Opal and Mascot towers debacles, has been a blow to the apartment market. Yet two years after residents were evacuated from the Opal Tower at Olympic Park, the hope is that tighter regulations in the wake of the crisis will prevent the construction of defect-riddled apartment buildings and renew buyer confidence.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is also set to reshape Sydney's apartments.

    Planning Minister Rob Stokes believes the coronavirus will leave an indelible imprint on the design of apartment buildings because there will be a greater demand for living space.

    "The nature of common property I think will change," he said. "Fewer touch points in common areas to ensure less capacity for transmission of communicable disease."

    He agrees that there will be a greater demand for more compact, lower rise apartment buildings, "rather than soaring towers that reach for the heavens".

    A greater mix of housing types is expected in Sydney over the coming years.Credit:Janie Barrett

    "Over the past 10 to 20 years, there has been a very binary choice. They have been detached homes in the suburbs or massive towers. There is now more demand for products in between," he said.

    While the pandemic has resulted in Sydney's population flat-lining, SGS Economics expects it to return to historical trend by 2028. It means the city's population will expand by more than 100,000 a year, and Mr Stokes is adamant that Sydney cannot afford to put the brakes on home building now, given longer-term population forecasts.

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    He is eager to encourage the fledgling build-to-rent market residential buildings in which developers own all of the apartments and lease them out in business zones of the city, saying it will create more vibrant neighbourhoods in otherwise sterile commercial districts.

    "The developers have the incentive to build really good-quality stuff because they are going to own it. They're going to do a proper job because they're going to be liable for defects," he said. "On so many levels, it's a win-win."

    He believed build-to-rent was a tool that would help young people get a leg into the property market because it gave security of tenure for 10 to 15 years, which the general residential market tended to lack. "That gives them 10 to 15 years where they can save up a deposit, and also use negative gearing against the baby boomers," he said.

    "Younger people are competing against the baby boomers to buy the homes. Here, the younger people have the opportunity to use negative gearing to buy the house they ultimately want to live in. It levels the playing field a bit. And remember, rising property values have created a massive transfer of wealth to people over the age of 55 or 60."

    Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Heralds newsletter here, The Ages here, Brisbane Times here, and WAtodays here.

    Matt O'Sullivan is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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    The Sydney apartment tribes reshaping the harbour city - Sydney Morning Herald

    Editorial: Changes needed to build more middle-income housing – The Daily Herald - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    By The Herald Editorial Board

    It can seem judging by the building activity we see around us as if Everett and much of the rest of Snohomish County is seeing a building boom.

    But bigger booms in jobs and in population have overtaken housing construction.

    While construction of housing has increased about 24 percent in Everett in the 20 years between 1999 and 2018, its population growth has outpaced construction, rising 28 percent. Recent declines in housing construction have cut in to the gains seen in boom years in 2001 and 2006.

    Even with a surge of 747 units of housing built in 2016, the city still averaged only 231 units a year between 2011 and 2018, compared to an average of 650 units a year in the first 10 years of the period, according to a City of Everett housing profile completed in 2019.

    At the same time, median home prices have soared, pricing out middle-income homeowners and renters. A median-priced single-family home cost $194,750 in 2011; by 2018, the same home fetched about $390,000, more than doubling in price, and putting home ownership here out of the reach of many with middle-income employment.

    That shortage of housing available for rent or ownership for middle-income families in Everett has prompted a multi-year effort by the City of Everett, called Rethink Housing, seeking strategies to secure the housing needs of current and future residents in a city that is expected to need 23,000 new housing units in less than 15 years.

    As part of the effort, which includes a series of forums and chats this year, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin invited Chris Gregoire to speak at an online Facebook forum last month. Gregoire, the former two-term governor, is chief executive of Challenge Seattle, a policy organization that, among other issues, is working to resolve the Greater Seattle regions own housing challenges.

    Gregoire noted that Everett and Snohomish County share with Seattle and King County many of the same pressures on housing affordablility and lagging stock of housing, particularly for middle-income families.

    In Everett, since 1990, while the median income level has increased 92 percent, median housing prices have increased by 173 percent and median rental costs have increased 162 percent, forcing middle-income employees out of the communities in which they work and into longer commutes.

    Typically, the types of workers earning middle-income wages what has often been called family-wage jobs include health care workers, firefighters, police officers and other front-line workers, building trades workers and educators, the heart and soul of our communities, Gregoire said.

    As a result of the exodus of those families, she said, public education suffers, community safety is compromised, traffic congestion worsens, homelessness increases, socioeconomic diversity declines and the regions economic growth slows.

    Using the impact to public education as an example, Gregoire said, for teachers to be forced out of the community by the unaffordable cost of housing, it means fewer teachers can stay after school to help students, advise clubs or coach sports. And the loss of middle-income families can eventually result in a decline in school enrollment.

    San Jose, Calif., provides a case study. Because of this lack of affordability, so many (teachers) have left that area, they had to close down three elementary schools, with more to come. If we stay on this course, theres no reason to assume that the same outcome wont happen to us, she said.

    The same constraints are forcing longer commutes on firefighters, police officers, hospital staff, utility workers and others whose jobs often depend on their quick availability during a crisis.

    What is happening is obvious: Were lacking affordability and compromising our quality of life because were on long commutes, were diminishing our air quality and were creating financial insecurity, Gregoire said.

    Builders have good financial incentives to build for higher-income homeowners; while government and nonprofit agencies are working to get lower-income housing built. For King County, the governor said, higher-end housing comprises about 57 percent of what was recently built, with 30 percent of construction intended for lower-income residents. Housing for middle-income families made up only 12 percent of the market.

    Information from the U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow estimates that the median income necessary to cover the rent for a new apartment is currently $2,800 a month in the Puget Sound region, but most middle-income households can afford only between $1,300 to $2,700 a month, if families stick to the recommendation of spending no more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

    Closing that gap, Gregoire said, will require lowering the costs for property, financing and construction. Addressing a range of public-private initiatives increasing density through changes to zoning, encouraging transit-oriented development, providing below-market loans, extending housing tax incentives, streamlining permitting, reducing parking requirements along transit corridors and supporting construction and technology innovations all can add up to reduce rent or mortgage payments enough to make an apartment or home affordable to a teacher, nurse or police officer.

    But it will require doing things differently than we have done and accepting change.

    That resistance to change is nothing new when we consider current conceptions of neighborhoods and homes.

    Most recently, Housing Hope proposed the construction of 44 units of housing a mix of single-family homes and apartments on three acres of land near Sequoia High School, intended primarily for homeless students at the alternative high school.

    The project, designed with the consultation of neighbors, was of relatively low density and offered quality construction that would have fit in architecturally with the neighborhood and importantly would have filled a dire need to address a large population of homeless students in Everett. Yet the project was opposed by some, and its consideration was delayed and ultimately rejected by the Everett City Council.

    The project was intended to fill a need for low-income families, but its not difficult to see similar objections raised again if apartments or other housing are proposed that strays from neighborhood norms.

    We have to embrace change, Gregoire said. If we fail, the outcome is not a community we want to live in.

    Making a success of rethinking housing in Everett and avoiding the potential for the citys decline by pricing out those vital to its community should begin with discussions of what residents want to see, what they are willing to accept and how to make change work.

    Rethink Housing forums

    The City of Everetts Rethink Housing sessions continue through the coming months. Among scheduled events online:

    A virtual chat session is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, inviting members of the public to share thoughts and ideas about the citys housing policies. A second chat session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28

    Nan Roman, chief executive of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, will speak in an online forum at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14.

    A full listing of events is available at EverettWa.gov.

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    Editorial: Changes needed to build more middle-income housing - The Daily Herald

    1 dead in 4-alarm Yonkers apartment building fire – Yahoo News - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Guardian

    * Senators decline to defend electoral college ploy on TV * Democrats and GOP leaders to block gambit aimed at party base * Trump pressed Georgia Republican to overturn Biden victoryAll 12 Republican senators who have pledged not to ratify the electoral college results on Wednesday, and thereby refuse to confirm Joe Bidens resounding victory over Donald Trump in the presidential election, declined to defend their move on television, a CNN host said on Sunday.It all recalls what Ulysses S Grant once wrote in 1861, Jake Tapper said on State of the Union, before quoting a letter the union general wrote at the outset of a civil war he won before becoming president himself: There are [but] two parties now: traitors and patriots.How would you describe the parties today? Tapper asked.The attempt to overturn Trumps defeat seems doomed, a piece of political theatre mounted by party grandees eager to court supporters loyal to the president before, in some cases, mounting their own runs for the White House.Nonetheless on Saturday Ted Cruz of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin led 11 senators and senators-elect in calling for an emergency 10-day audit of results in states where the president claims electoral fraud, despite failing to provide evidence and repeatedly losing in court.The senators followed Josh Hawley of Missouri like Cruz thought likely to run for president in 2024 in pledging to object to the electoral college result. A majority of House Republicans are also expected to object, after staging a Saturday call with Trump to plan their own moves.Democrats control the House and senior Senate Republicans are opposed to the attempt to disenfranchise millions many of them African Americans in swing states seemingly guaranteeing the attempt will fail. Nonetheless, Vice-President Mike Pence, who will preside over the ratification, welcomed the move by Cruz and others.A spokesman for Biden, Michael Gwin, said: This stunt wont change the fact that President-elect Biden will be sworn in on 20 January, and these baseless claims have already been examined and dismissed by Trumps own attorney general, dozens of courts, and election officials from both parties.Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee now a senator from Utah, said: The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our democratic republic.More Americans participated in this election than ever before, and they made their choice. President Trumps lawyers made their case before scores of courts; in every instance, they failed.Adding to this ill-conceived endeavour by some in Congress is the presidents call for his supporters to come to the Capitol on the day when this matter is to be debated and decided. This has the predictable potential to lead to disruption, and worse.Encouraged by Trump, far-right groups including the Proud Boys are expected to gather in Washington on Wednesday.On Sunday Romney and fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) was part of a bipartisan group of 10 senators who rejected attempts to overturn the election. On Saturday Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, a battleground state, also registered his opposition.Hawley responded by decrying shameless personal attacks.Georgia, where Trump refuses to accept defeat, goes to the polls in vital Senate runoffs on Tuesday. Stacey Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate there, told ABCs This Week: Its always dangerous to undermine the integrity of elections without evidence.The Democrat lost her 2018 race to Brian Kemp, a Republican who ran his own election as secretary of state. Abrams refused to concede. Asked about Republican claims Trumps objection is no different, she said: Well, its not simply different circumstances. Its apples and bowling balls.I pointed out that there were a series of actions taken that impeded the ability of voters to cast their ballots. And in almost every one of those circumstances the courts agreed, as did the state legislature.By contrast, she said, President Trump has lost every single one of his challenges in the state of Georgia and he has no evidence.The Washington Post reported that it had obtained a tape of an extraordinary hour-long call on Saturday, in which Trump pressed Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to overturn Bidens victory.The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry, Trump said. And theres nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that youve recalculated.Raffensperger said: Well, Mr President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.Trump said: So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.Trump acknowledged the call, tweeting that Raffensperger was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ballots under table scam, ballot destruction, out of state voters, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!Last week, Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a stinging rebuke of Hawley, saying: Adults dont point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.We have a deep cancer in American politics, Sasse added. Both Republicans and Democrats are growing more distrustful of the basic processes and procedures.The senators who followed Hawley made the same point, pointing to polling. On Sunday, Johnson said they were acting to protect democracy.Such arguments are in bad faith blame for public distrust weighs heaviest by far on the White House and its allies. To Johnsons insistence that tens of millions believe the election was stolen, NBC Meet the Press host Chuck Todd suggested he look in the mirror if he wanted to work out why.Todd then cut Johnson short, saying: You dont get to make these allegations that havent been proven true.On CNN, Tapper played remarks by Hawley from January, during Trumps impeachment.The consequences to the republic of overturning an election because you dont like the result, Hawley said, and because you believe that that election was somehow corrupted, when in fact, the evidence shows that it was not thats an interesting approach. I think its crazy, frankly.

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    1 dead in 4-alarm Yonkers apartment building fire - Yahoo News

    ATF helping to investigate massive fire at Waldo Heights apartments – KMBC Kansas City - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The investigation continues into what caused a massive blaze at the Waldo Heights apartments Monday in Kansas City.Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from across the country are headed to Kansas City to help determine what caused the fire and whether the circumstances are suspicious."There was some absolutely heroic firefighting by the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department last night," said John Ham, spokesman for the Kansas City ATF.As daylight broke, work began to figure out what caused the fire"We start with everything on the table as a possible cause," Ham said.Ham said the Kansas City ATF is working with the fire department and the police department's bomb and arson squad. The ATF's national response team has also been called in."That team is made up of fire investigators with collectively hundreds and hundreds of years of experience," Ham said. "We have forensic chemists, forensic engineers, electrical engineers."He said they're being tapped because of the size and complexity of the fire."Just because we're bringing in the national response team doesn't mean that we believe it to be a set fire, but that's certainly one of the things that are on the table," Ham said.Patrick Williamson lives in another building at the complex."We were seeing embers flying over our heads, hitting the building behind us," Williamson said.He said he also noticed a challenge for emergency crews."There were firemen, firefighters running all around just searching for fire hydrants," Williamson said.The fire department said it's typical for older construction to have fewer hydrants and that they had to use around 1500 feet of hose line to get water on the flames.Police say there was a disturbance call Monday night before the fire started. Right now, they cannot say whether they believe it's related to the fire. The ATF's national response team is expected to be on site Wednesday morning.The Red Cross is helping 30 families that lived inside the apartments. Officials said 33 people are sleeping at 16 different hotel rooms."There's so much stress going on when you have a life event like this, so we try to offer as much empathy as we can and try to get immediate assistance as quickly as we can," said Scott Riggs, of the American Red Cross.Waldo Heights required families to have renter's insurance, which should help with housing and replaced damaged items.Charities like Salvation Army are stepping up to fill in the gaps both short and long term."Nobody knows when an entire apartment building in Kansas City is going to go up in flames. But when it does, the donations we receive mean that we can be there to help folks not just with the necessities they need today but with longer term re-housing tomorrow," said Doug Donahoo, of the Salvation Army.

    The investigation continues into what caused a massive blaze at the Waldo Heights apartments Monday in Kansas City.

    Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from across the country are headed to Kansas City to help determine what caused the fire and whether the circumstances are suspicious.

    "There was some absolutely heroic firefighting by the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department last night," said John Ham, spokesman for the Kansas City ATF.

    As daylight broke, work began to figure out what caused the fire

    "We start with everything on the table as a possible cause," Ham said.

    Ham said the Kansas City ATF is working with the fire department and the police department's bomb and arson squad. The ATF's national response team has also been called in.

    "That team is made up of fire investigators with collectively hundreds and hundreds of years of experience," Ham said. "We have forensic chemists, forensic engineers, electrical engineers."

    He said they're being tapped because of the size and complexity of the fire.

    "Just because we're bringing in the national response team doesn't mean that we believe it to be a set fire, but that's certainly one of the things that are on the table," Ham said.

    Patrick Williamson lives in another building at the complex.

    "We were seeing embers flying over our heads, hitting the building behind us," Williamson said.

    He said he also noticed a challenge for emergency crews.

    "There were firemen, firefighters running all around just searching for fire hydrants," Williamson said.

    The fire department said it's typical for older construction to have fewer hydrants and that they had to use around 1500 feet of hose line to get water on the flames.

    Police say there was a disturbance call Monday night before the fire started. Right now, they cannot say whether they believe it's related to the fire. The ATF's national response team is expected to be on site Wednesday morning.

    The Red Cross is helping 30 families that lived inside the apartments. Officials said 33 people are sleeping at 16 different hotel rooms.

    "There's so much stress going on when you have a life event like this, so we try to offer as much empathy as we can and try to get immediate assistance as quickly as we can," said Scott Riggs, of the American Red Cross.

    Waldo Heights required families to have renter's insurance, which should help with housing and replaced damaged items.

    Charities like Salvation Army are stepping up to fill in the gaps both short and long term.

    "Nobody knows when an entire apartment building in Kansas City is going to go up in flames. But when it does, the donations we receive mean that we can be there to help folks not just with the necessities they need today but with longer term re-housing tomorrow," said Doug Donahoo, of the Salvation Army.

    Read more:
    ATF helping to investigate massive fire at Waldo Heights apartments - KMBC Kansas City

    With little effect on ground, work on Minneapolis 2040 plan continues behind the scenes – Minneapolis Star Tribune - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    In 2020, Minneapolis rolled out major changes to building standards to guide the city's growth under its 2040 Comprehensive Plan. But one year after its final adoption by the City Council, that controversial plan hasn't led to many visible changes in the cityscape.

    That doesn't surprise city planners, who expected developers would take some time to analyze the new regulations before changing their business plans. Last year's upheavals also played a role, they said.

    "I think 2020 has had so many things going on with civil unrest and the pandemic," said Jason Wittenberg, manager of code development for the city of Minneapolis. "I think people are still wrapping their minds around what that is going to mean for people's preferences related to what kinds of environments they want to live in."

    While the plan's biggest champion City Council President Lisa Bender is set to leave office in early 2022, she expects that will have little impact on the plan's rollout. "This has always been a team effort," she said in a recent public meeting.

    Much of the day-to-day work is being led by a steering committee that includes city staff as well as Council Members Jeremy Schroeder, Kevin Reich and Cam Gordon.

    The 2040 plan aims to create a more densely populated, transit-friendly Minneapolis by loosening restrictions on multiunit buildings across the city, among other changes. The city is pushing forward with implementing the plan even as it awaits a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court, which heard arguments late last year on an environmental challenge.

    Jack Perry, an attorney representing the groups that have sued the city, said they hope they will get to fully argue their case, which was dismissed by lower courts, and ultimately seek to block the plan and new ordinances from being enforced.

    "We're confident that if we have a hearing on the merits, the city's plan will be ruled invalid," Perry said.

    In a statement, city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said the city "remains confident that there is no legal basis to block full implementation of Minneapolis 2040."

    "The Comprehensive Plan will manage the city's growth with a focus on undoing significant racial disparities created by a history of policies that have prevented equitable access to housing, jobs and investments," she said.

    Here's what's happening with the 2040 plan:

    2020 ushered in one of the most contentious elements: the end of single-family zoning.

    City staff are still compiling statistics on the number of permits for new duplex and triplex construction in Minneapolis but don't expect to see a dramatic increase just yet.

    "I think those have been fairly slow to ramp up," Wittenberg said.

    Council members have asked city staff to continue monitoring the statistics and provide an update in March 2022 so they can figure out if they need to make adjustments.

    After tiny homes gained popularity on home design shows, some in the city began eyeing them as a way they might provide shelter for homeless people.

    New ordinance changes took effect early in 2020 that allow for "intentional community cluster" developments. Those projects allow people to live in clusters of tiny houses with shared common areas.

    Wittenberg said, "We haven't seen one of those come across the permit counter yet," but they still expect that some of those projects are on the horizon.

    In the interim, the city signed off on a similar project called an "indoor village," where tiny shelters are placed inside a warehouse. Local officials hope that will allow them to provide housing while also giving people a way to keep some distance from others amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Late last year, city leaders signed off on a 10-year Transportation Action Plan that's intended to change how people get around in Minneapolis.

    It offers new guidelines to increase the speed and reliability of public transit, connect bikeways across the region and make the city safer for walking. The overarching goal, city leaders said, is to ensure that more people have access to affordable transportation and reduce carbon emissions.

    "Our streets make up nearly a quarter of all land in Minneapolis and present an incredible opportunity to make good on commitments to race equity and climate change," Bender said in a statement after city leaders approved the plan.

    Early in the new year, the city also expects to look at what parking and transportation requirements will be in place for new development. Those requirements could include developers subsidizing transit passes for residents or providing more parking for electric vehicles and bicycles.

    Some developers threatened to stop doing business in Minneapolis when the city required them to include affordable housing units in new, large apartment buildings.

    City staff hope to have data in the coming weeks that will show how many new affordable housing units were constructed in 2020, but Wittenberg said they "expect that those numbers are going to look fairly similar to the previous year."

    In their last meeting of the year, City Council members approved new guidelines that outline how buildings should be designed in various parts of the city.

    The "built form" policies regulate such things as the height of buildings and where they should be situated on lots.

    "The point that we've been making is that, in many cases, we will be allowing more development and our regulations, in some cases, will be more permissive," Wittenberg said. But, he added, "we're going to apply those rules more rigidly than we have in the past to create those predictable outcomes."

    Wittenberg said city staff are working on handouts that will help residents understand how the new rules apply to them.

    Liz Navratil 612-673-4994

    See the rest here:
    With little effect on ground, work on Minneapolis 2040 plan continues behind the scenes - Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Construction of housing project for the elderly begins in Dupont – Insurance News Net - January 3, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Dec. 29Construction of a new affordable housing project for the elderly has begun in Dupont.

    The Dupont Housing for the Elderly project is being developed at the former Ben Franklin School at 611 Walnut St.

    Michael Molitoris, executive director of the Housing Authority of Luzerne County, the developer, said the project represents a unique public and private partnership and the culmination of three years of planning to create a housing development which will remove a vacant deteriorated building and transform the site into a "true community asset" to provide affordable housing to low-income seniors. Construction is projected to be completed in December 2021, he said.

    A + E Group JV of Wilkes-Barre designed the building which consists of 36 one-bedroom units. Four of the apartments will be designed to be accessible handicapped units and one apartment will be designed for the hearing/sight impaired.

    Common amenities, which are located on the first floor, include a community area, a kitchen, an elevator accessing all floors, on-site management and supportive services office and community facilities for laundry.

    The building was certified with Enterprise Green Communities for its advanced energy efficiency, the use of zero VOC paints and sealers and water-resistant materials in humid areas for quality interior environment.

    The financing structure for the $10.79 million project includes low-income housing tax credits through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency with equity investment of $7.56 million facilitated by Enterprise Housing Credit Investment, LLC and other permanent financing commitments from PHFA Housing Trust Fund and the County of Luzerne HOME and Housing Trust Fund programs. Citizens Bank has provided a $5.4 million construction loan.

    Trade Eastern, Inc. is the general contractor. Legal partners include Dermot Kennedy, Ernest (Bucky) Closser and Bruce Anders/ Low-Income Housing Tax Credit technical services are being provided by Tom Elias of T. Elias and Associates.

    The Housing Authority of Luzerne County will provide management and maintenance staff with technical support from JLD Compliance Advisory, LLC of Hummelstown, PA. Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton will provide supportive services to assist residents in meeting their everyday needs to remain independent.

    Dupont Borough Council and Council President Stanley Knick were key to the plan to develop affordable housing for the elderly when they acquired the school back in 2015, according to a press release announcing the project.

    Contact the writer: dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2115, @CVAllabaugh

    ___

    (c)2020 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

    Visit The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com

    Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

    Read more here:
    Construction of housing project for the elderly begins in Dupont - Insurance News Net

    COVID will leave lasting changes in Minnesota office and apartment projects – Minneapolis Star Tribune - December 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    COVID-19 is altering Minnesota commercial real estate in subtle ways from a boost in office subleases to quick construction pivots to adapt offices and apartments to allow tenants to safely gather outside in the winter or toil away indoors.

    Doran Cos. was building its new Birke apartment complex in Minnetonka last summer when the coronavirus forced it to rethink its "amenities deck."

    With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that people avoid socializing indoors, the developer scrapped original designs and opted to heat the deck concrete to allow 125 future tenants to more comfortably use the outdoor BBQ grills, hot tub, fire pits and seating well into December and January.

    The change was a first for Doran but is one in a growing number of COVID pivots that building designers are making to cope with a pandemic that is not expected to be completely eradicated for months, even as vaccines roll out nationwide. Many design changes are adding tens of thousands of dollars to construction projects, but not breaking the bank.

    Still, the effects of COVID-19 are expected to last for years as office and factory workers, baristas, nurses aides and apartment tenants continue to look for built-in safety measures.

    Minnesota building owners quickly installed touchless elevators, hand-sanitizing stations, temperature check-ins and new air-filtration systems during the early days of the pandemic. But now that the virus cases have surged, developers are adding shower rooms, private offices and heated three-season outdoor patios across Minnesota.

    Builders are asking themselves, "What are the long-term impacts of COVID?" and then altering their plans, said Doran President and Chief Executive Anne Behrendt. Many are also careful to ask, "Are we going too far with design changes that are reacting to COVID, but that in two or three years may not be how people really want to live and interact?"

    The Building Owners and Managers Association estimates only 10 to 15% of Minnesota workers have returned to the office so far. With that percentage not expected to escalate dramatically until well into 2021, it pays for some developers to embrace their COVID construction changes now.

    Even with COVID's uncertainty, "You are probably building what still will be utilized for years to come," said Sam Newberg, senior field research analyst at property management and leasing giant CBRE and a BOMA member.

    Some Transwestern office-lease clients in Minnesota recently expanded conference rooms thinking they will need bigger collaborative spaces post COVID-19.

    The idea being that employee's "individual work" will continue to be done from home while collaborative or project work will be the thing that draws staffers back to the office in clumps even after the virus subsides, said Transwestern Principal Erin Fitzgerald.

    Of its 12 Twin Cities projects, Doran Cos. pivoted again this month, changing the blueprints for a Richfield apartment complex going up next to Lunds & Byerlys. Designers dumped plans for an open business center in the lobby and are instead building three individual offices.

    Seeing the demand swell for apartment workspace during COVID, Doran added more indoor and outdoor co-working spaces for a Tonka Bay luxury apartment complex now under construction.

    "Post-COVID, the only thing that will stick around is people will continue to work from home," said Tony Kuechle, Doran president of development.

    Subtle COVID changes are also altering buildings where the workforce can't work remotely.

    Oppidan Investment, the senior-housing developer that broke ground on its sixth senior-housing complex in Minnesota one month ago, is adding a screening/locker room with showers for staffers at each of its new properties because of the pandemic. The room will become the new entrance for all staffers.

    "We are doing that in Grand Rapids [Minn.] and in all of our [other] new communities," in California and on the East Coast, said Oppidan President Blake Hastings. "It's another step to keep [our workers] safe. So if they are concerned about bringing anything [virus-related] home, they can shower on site and change clothes before leaving work. It gives them a place to decompress and allows us a place to screen these teammates [before] coming into work."

    Oppidan is also adding sinks in its resident hallways so aides can wash hands more frequently, Hastings said.

    The vaccine won't be widely available for months so this is "the right thing to do," even if it costs more, Hastings said, noting that each new staff locker room will cost the same as adding one senior apartment to each building.

    Offices, factories and other industrial builders are taking a different page from health care property managers and installing hospital-grade heating and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) that also purify the air. Murphy Warehouse in Minneapolis recently installed sterilizing UV lights in all its rooftop air systems. Those who sell the units are swamped with inquiries.

    "We are definitely selling and shipping more units with the higher-efficiency filters today than ever before and we are shipping orders with the [air-sterilizing] UV lights definitely more than ever before," said Jim Macosko, product general manager at HVAC-maker Daikin Applied Americas.

    Daikin, a Japanese firm with two factories in Faribault and one in Owatonna, sees demand spiking for three technologies it can embed in its Minnesota-made HVAC systems. It's using more Merve 13 and 14 air filters or embedding UV lights to trap or kill germs.

    Separately, it's also starting to install bipolar ionization equipment in some HVAC systems. Ionization electrically charges air particles and neutralizes bacteria and viruses.

    Daikin has yet to install the systems at its own Minnesota factories but has bolstered air-exchange rates and now runs air filters 24/7 not just during work hours, Macosko said.

    Even with the arrival of a coronavirus vaccine, high-tech air-purification systems will not fall out of favor after COVID-19 is gone, he said. After all, "COVID won't be the last virus we have."

    Continue reading here:
    COVID will leave lasting changes in Minnesota office and apartment projects - Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Three-story office building proposed to slide in between apartments, alley in Downtown Boise – boisedev.com - December 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    A Boise developer hopes to add a small office and retail building to a block that will soon include two residential projects in the Downtown Boise core.

    Weve been following the two apartment projects developed by Clay Carley and other groups on Grove St. between Fifth Street and Sixth Streets for the last few years. The related but separate projects, currently under construction, will bring a rent-restricted apartment project on the 6th St. side of the block known as Thomas Logan, as well as a market-rate apartment building on the 5th St. side dubbed The Lucy. The two buildings will share a plaza in the middle along Grove St.

    [19-story condo tower planned for Downtown Boise]

    Now, an area previously designated for a pocket park will instead get a three-story commercial and office building, if a plan submitted to the City of Boise is approved.

    The small site sits along 5th St., right behind the Chip Cookies building. The plan from Carley and developer GGLO for Fifth and Grove would include a retail space on the ground floor with two stories of office above.

    Though the previously noted ground floor pocket park would go away they hope to include about the same amount of green space somewhere else: the roof.

    The vegetated fescue roof, viewed from nearby buildings, draws inspiration from the Boise Foothills in the distance, an application letter from GGLO notes.

    Renderings show a series of shaggy green plantings on the roof of the building.

    The larger form has an open floorpan for users, with large open windows facing east to the park across the street, and to the west, GGLO wrote. Internally, the building provides flexible spaces with large openings to the street, with exposed floor and roof structures. The exposed wood joist ceilings on each level give the open spaces a colorful richness and natural textures that will be visible from street level.

    A public hearing on the project is set for January 13th at 6pm. Participants can testify in person or online. Due to limitations with the City of Boises online permit system, we cannot link you to the hearing notice, but if you click this link, then click Documents, then navigate to page 4, then select PDS-Legal Notice DR_HYBRID MEETING LEGAL NOTICE 1-13-2021 you can find further details.

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    Three-story office building proposed to slide in between apartments, alley in Downtown Boise - boisedev.com

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