ConocoPhillips Plans May Improve Economy

The plans for ConocoPhillips to redevelop the former Sun Microsystems / Storage Tek campus appear to already be having some positive effects on the local economy. Many of you that I’ve been talking with recently have said that you’ve either read something, or have first hand knowledge of how the ConocoPhillips plans may affect your future.

The commercial marketplace, in the vicinity of the ConocoPhillips campus, is sometimes referred to by the Denver community as the metro Denver northwest market. While many of us immediately think of Interlocken as the primary hotbed of high tech employment opportunity in the Louisville Superior area, I think the notion that Denver is finally counting this portion of the front range as ‘its own’ is a significant development.

Even though local newspapers report that Sun Microsystems will lay off somewhere around 200 employees in the local area by the end of the year, the counter effect can already be felt by the advances we can expect to see in the employment market in Lousiville and beyond due to the ConocoPhillips facility.

I’ve mentioned to many of you that I believe that the ancillary benefits of the ConocoPhillips facility will be noticed long before the direct effect of its anticipated launch in 2011 (or 2012, depending on who you talk to ).

Already you can see changes. Renewable Energy Systems, a wind-energy company, moved an entire division from Austin, Texas to Broomfield. Utilizing 23,000 square feet and bringing 100 employees to the area. Also, Camco Global, is another employer that opened up an office recently. with 10 workers at a 4600 square-foot office in Interlocken. Gamco’s business is reported to be in trading carbon credits.

At Eldorado Ridge, Range fuels, a company that converts biomass into fuel-grade ethanol, expanded from 7,000 sq ft up to 17,000 sq ft, and Siemens AG apparently plans to establish a wind energy R & D facility in Boulder by 2013. Siemens expects about 50 researchers working at this location.

I think the ConocoPhillips renewable energy research and education facility will continue to attract international business to the Boulder county and Broomfield county area for many years. That’s pretty much by-design according to what I heard at the Boulder Tomorrow meeting last month. Mary Manning, ConocoPhillips General Manager of Global Real Estate & Facilities, made it clear that the decision to locate the ConocoPhillips in the center of the United States was so that the company could attract international talent equally from both Europe and the Pacific Rim countries. I think this is obviously spilling over into the subsidiary markets of renewable energy related businesses.

Governor Ritter and a team of economic development experts are already on the fast track to court additional renewable energy businesses from Spain.

While the U.S. Hwy 36 corridor is experiencing very high vacancy rates right now, developers are already planning more office buildings to add another 650,000+ square feet of office space in the area. Lease rates are already increasing and vacancies are slowly starting to drop.

A new loft style hotel with 156 rooms is planned for a site on Interlocken Blvd. just south east of Flatirons Crossing Mall. 400 residential units are planned in the area near Hwy 128, Hwy 287 and Hwy 36; just north east of the airport (Rocky Mountain Metro, or … what will likely be called Jeffco Airport to pilots and most locals for years to come, even though the name was changed recently).

Reports are that there are up to a total of five new hotels planned around the area. Two of these, a Cambria Suites and a Hyatt Summerfield Suites, are expected just across fro the entrance to the ConocoPhillips site.

This may be just the tip of the iceberg. As this project progresses and the other additional restaurants, office buildings and shopping districts begin to become a reality over the next few years, I think we’ll see as the overall marketplace warms up that the business end of the iceberg is below the surface.

With a flat residential real estate market the last year or two, we’re probably at the lowest prices we can expect to see for quite some time in this area.

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