Airport business park is taking off in Colorado Springs

Sep. 11--The first tenant of a business park at the Colorado Springs Airport moved in last weekend, capping an eight-year effort to expand airport activity beyond commercial air travel.

Up to 80 employees will work in a 78,000-square-foot office building leased to Aerospace Corp., a California-based research consultant to Air Force Space Command, said Jerry "Mike" Drennan, a vice president who heads the company's operations in Colorado Springs.

"We started looking for a site for our building a couple of years ago, and this business park popped up to the top of the list," Drennan said. "It is the ideal location for the kind of business we do, especially with its proximity to our main customer."

The new building will allow employees to work more efficiently because it offers a fiber-optic Internet connection 200 times faster than the broadband connection at the company's previous offices, 1150 Academy Park Loop, Drennan said.

Aerospace Corp. employs about 50 others at Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases who will also have offices in the new building, Drennan said.

The nonprofit helps Air Force Space Command develop requirements for satellites and other space vehicles, he said.

The move comes just days before city officials will name a developer for the rest of the 1,000-acre business park south of the airport's passenger terminal. The city took bids July 10 and will begin talks Thursday to finalize an agreement with the winning bidder.

"This is an exciting and momentous time for the development of this business park," said John Faulkner, the airport's assistant director for planning and development. The developer "will be a dynamic partner for the airport."

The business park developer will lease 270 acres in the park capable of accommodating more than 3 million square feet of office space as well as a 25-acre site for a 300-room hotel. A 226-acre golf course site will be bid separately next year, Faulkner said.

A second business park tenant, aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp., plans to move 400 of its 1,200 local employees in January into a 130,000-square-foot office building now under construction. Northrop will consolidate six local offices into the $30 million building.

Meanwhile, a $50 million terminal for arriving and departing troops now under construction in the business park is scheduled to open late next year, Faulkner said. The terminal will be able to handle about 1,200 troops a day from Peterson and Fort Carson.

The next major construction project planned for the business park will be a six-lane southern entrance road off Powers Boulevard scheduled to begin next summer, Faulkner said. The Defense Department is funding the $8.1 million project, he said.

The Springs airport and others nationwide are developing business parks to raise revenue to offset increasing costs for security and other items, and to keep costs paid by airlines low to help retain existing service and attract new flights.

Local airport officials estimate that income from the leased office space in the park will add $3 million to the airport's $21 million budget in 10 to 15 years. That doesn't include income from the planned hotel, golf course and retail shops in the park.