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Green Acres

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean greener, but in the case of Quay Valley the axiom may very well be true.

The 13,000-acre master-planned community to be developed in California’s San Joaquin Valley aims to unite New Urbanism elements with the Golden State’s small-town-inspired architecture in a setting that is uniquely sustainable.

In fact, say developers Kings County Ventures, LLC, the community called Quay Valley will be one of the most ecologically sensitive, self-sustaining designs ever built on such a scale.

Quay Hays, founder of Kings County Ventures, has one goal in developing a $20-billion project halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles: to “bring together intimate, sustainable design concepts with a dramatic, expansive vision of what a mixed-use destination can become.”

A phased development, Quay Valley will include residential, office and warehouse space, as well as four town centers, Main Street retail and entertainment destinations.

“Phase 1 components will include the commercial and the destination retail, which is clustered around Interstate 5 [California’s main north-south freeway],” said Roy Higgs, CEO of Baltimore-based Development Design Group, the architectural firm spearheading Quay Valley’s commercial, retail and entertainment component.

Phase 1 is part of a 10-year plan that will ultimately include more than 2 million sq. ft. of retail and house more than 150,000 residents. The entertainment component alone features 1.8 million sq. ft. of mixed-use, 500 acres of commercial space, destination resort hotels and convention centers, a water park, an extreme-sports park, interactive sports, nature education, activities centers and a 42,000-seat international motor speedway.

Commencement of the project is planned for 2010 with completion slated for 2014. But shovels in the dirt will have been preceded by years of research and planning and huge investments in infrastructure.

“Two new freeway off-ramps and four overpasses need to be built,” said Higgs. “There are 303 miles of roads to be built in the town and no asphalt—all roads will be different concretes to reduce the urban heat-island effect.” The development team has been working with the local power utility for more than two years on the solar infrastructure and with Houston-based Waste Management, Inc. on minimizing waste and maximizing recycling and composting.

Three 100-acre water reservoirs each will be covered with 20 MW solar fields.

The greenness of Quay Valley is mind-boggling, if not for the project’s size than for its all-encompassing sustainability.

“All residences are required to be a minimum equivalent of LEED certified, and all non-residential buildings are required to be a minimum equivalent of LEED Silver,” said Higgs. “When we first began our planning in 2006, there was resistance to sustainable features because builders were afraid of perceived costs.” Today, however, said Higgs, tenants, builders, state agencies, developers and homebuyers all want to take advantage of the green aspects of Quay Valley.

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NRF: Americans filing taxes early in hopes of faster refunds

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON Americans expecting a tax return will be filing early this year, according to NRF’s Tax Returns Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch. Of those expecting a refund, 71% will have filed by the end of February, compared to 37.5% of people who are not expecting a refund.

In addition to filing earlier, people who expect a refund are much more likely to file online (59.9% vs. 38.9%); another indication that taxpayers eager to get money back from Uncle Sam would like to receive money as soon as possible.

“Many families, eagerly anticipating extra cash, are filing taxes earlier this year,” said NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Retailers planning to offer special promotions during tax season may want to consider rolling them out as soon as possible.”

This year, two-thirds (68.4%) of consumers expect a refund from their 2008 taxes. The majority of people expecting a refund will use the money to pay down debt (48.0%). Others will put their refund in savings (38.9%) or invest in a major purchase like a television or car (11.0%). One-fourth (26.7%) will use refunds for everyday expenses, similar to behavior seen in 2008 and 2007.

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Costco extends ATM agreement with Cardtronics

BY CSA STAFF

HOUSTON Costco and Cardtronics have extended their existing ATM placement agreement to include 41 locations throughout Oregon and Washington. With this expansion Cardtronics ATMs will now be available in 97% of the over 400 Costco warehouse locations in the United States.

“Costco has been a valued customer and we are extremely pleased to extend and expand our ATM placement agreement,” stated Brian Archer, chief marketing officer at Cardtronics. “With our national presence, low cost structure, in-house processing capability, branding and surcharge-free programs, and high standards of availability and service, Cardtronics is the ideal partner to provide ATM and financial self-service solutions.”

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