The Architect Newswire is an aggregation of news from media outlets around the world, intended to keep you abreast of all of the industry’s important developments. The stories we feature are not reported, edited, or fact-checked by Architect’s staff.

BLOOMBERG
Single-family housing’s worst year
While housing starts bottomed out in 2009, it appears that single-family housing starts will go even lower this year. Bob Willis and Alex Tanzi report that 2011 will see about 419,100 new single-family homes, 11 percent lower than 2010. Multi-family housing starts have risen by 45 percent this year, somewhat distorting the overall housing start figures. “A lot of people just look at the headline numbers, they don’t realize the breakdown tells the story,” says Bank of America senior economist Michelle Meyer. “Foreclosures are forcing people to transition from ownership to rentals. In a sense, the multifamily sector is benefiting at the expense of single-family.”

Click here for the full story.

CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS
Michigan firms working in Baghdad
A consortium of Michigan companies with expertise in architecture, engineering, construction, and finance—called Mich Development—has been tapped to work on a $5.5 billion urban development outside Baghdad. Michelle Muñoz reports that the 15- to 20-square-mile community will take about 10 years to complete and will include about 100,000 housing units plus schools, commercial, recreational, and civic facilities. “A lot of management services would be provided by Michigan firms,” says Prima Civitas director of international programs Patrick McRae. “I think the reasonable export potential for Michigan goods and services is in that $1.5 billion range.” The companies involved with Mich Development include Albert Kahn Associates and Mannik & Smith Group of Detroit; Capital Strategies Group of Birmingham, Ala.; C2AE International of Lansing, Mich.; and The Archinomics Group of Winnetka, Ill.

Click here for the full story.

GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE
HUD proposing changes to HOME accountability
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing a revised rule to create greater local accountability for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. Charles S. Clark reports that HUD has been considering reforms to the 1992 program for the past year, but an investigative series by The Washington Post and a subsequent cut in funding may have hastened the proposed changes.
“We believe that HUD's information systems used to administer the HOME program are incapable of producing complete and reconcilable audit trails throughout the entire grant life cycle and are unable to produce reports which would facilitate timely identification of fraud waste and abuse in the programs,” acting Deputy HUD Inspector General John McCarty told Congress last month.

Click here for the full story.

THE HUNTSVILLE TIMES (AL)
New look for Huntsville’s schools
Huntsville, Ala.’s school district is looking at spending nearly $80 million on capital projects in 2012. “We want to do everything we can to put the 'wow factor' back in our schools,” Mayor Tommy Battle says. Crystal Bonvillian reports that the numerous projects include a new $15 million middle school designed by Matheny Goldmon and renovations by Chapman Sisson Architects at Butler and Johnson high schools.

Click here for the full story.

MILWAUKEE SMALL BUSINESS TIMES
Walmart building boom in Wisconsin
Southeastern Wisconsin expects a building boom by Walmart in 2012. Andrew Weiland reports that as many as 12 stores could be built in the area during the coming year, including two in Milwaukee, two in Kenosha and one each in Greendale, Menomonee Falls, South Milwaukee and Wauwatosa. “There are many underserved markets and neighborhoods in southeastern Wisconsin,” says Walmart spokeswoman Lisa Nelson. “Getting closer to our customers benefits our customers and it fits in with our growth strategy.”

Click here for the full story.

LAS VEGAS SUN
Neon Museum underway
Construction has begun on the $1.5 million renovation of the La Concha motel lobby to provide a visitors center for Las Vegas’s Neon Boneyard. Conor Shine reports that the project is scheduled for completion in May 2012. “Preservation is a unique challenge in Las Vegas. But it’s something we’ve found that tourists are very attracted to, and slowly locals are actually becoming very excited about it,” says executive director Danielle Kelly. “We’re just excited to offer ... locals another example of something to be proud of.”

Click here for the full story.


HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Architects named for Houston arts project
Houston’s Independent Arts Collaborative has selected San Antonio–based Lake Flato and local firm Studio Red Architects to design their new art space in the city’s Midtown neighborhood. Nancy Sarnoff reports that the 85,000-square-foot building will accommodate exhibit and performance space, in addition to rehearsal, worship, classroom, and office facilities. No timetable has been established for the $22 million structure.

Click here for the full story.

STAR-TRIBUNE (CASPER, WY)
Recycling KC Apartments
Casper, Wyo.’s KC Apartments were considered notorious when the 97-year-old building was shut down by the city two years ago for numerous safety violations. Joshua Wolfson reports that it’s now gone, but most of it is not in local landfills. Careful salvage led to the recycling of 83 percent of the building’s materials, many of them for use in the new apartment complex that will rise on the site. “We just take a look and see what I think we can salvage and what I think we might be able to sell to somebody else,” says demolition contractor Pete Peterson. “And then we go about saving those particular items.”

Click here for the full story.

THE SCRANTON TIMES TRIBUNE (PA)
Comprehensive plan adopted
The Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission adopted the Lackawanna-Luzerne Regional Plan last week. David Singleton reports that this is the first formal plan adopted by the region. While late to the planning party, the document is considered progressive on several counts. It’s Pennsylvania’s first bi-county regional plan and addresses land-use development, long range transportation planning, and hazard mitigation in the same document. “We are kind of leading the way on this,” Commissioner Mike Washo says.

Click here for the full story.


WHITTIER DAILY NEWS (CA)
Baldwin Park transit center’s budget woes
All six bids for the new Baldwin Park (Calif.) Transit Center have been rejected by the City Council. Maritza Velazquez reports that the low bid was $2.1 million above the $8.4 million budget. “We're hoping that by expanding and qualifying more contractors, there will be more competition and the bids will come down,” says Baldwin Park chief executive officer Vijay Singhal. The project includes a 500-car parking garage and pedestrian bridge that will connect to the Metrolink Station. “These are things that Southern California has long needed,” says Transit Coalition executive director Bart Reed. “We put trains in 20 years ago, but didn't follow with the development which makes trains all the more viable.”

Click here for the full story.