Six years after turning an old, near-vacant train station into a hub for space and tech startups, Kevin O’Neil has even more ambitious plans for his Catalyst Campus business park.
Construction is slated to begin early next year on a sixth office building in the 12-acre business park on the eastern outskirts of downtown Colorado Springs to house its growing collection of startups and defense contractors. space-oriented. Work was scheduled to begin last year on the 50,000-square-foot building on West Pikes Peak Avenue, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, O’Neil said.
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This is just the first step in O’Neil’s ambitious plan to expand the campus over the next 10 years from eight buildings totaling 200,000 square feet that house 30 companies and 700 employees, to structures totaling 1 million square feet that will house dozens of businesses employing thousands of people along much of the southeast side of downtown. He also wants to open up to 10 satellite sites in other cities by 2026.
“Five years ago everything here was almost completely vacant. Now there is no more vacancy, property values have increased dramatically and there is nothing to sell,” said O’Neil. “Catalyst Campus was built as an economic engine for the downtown area. We made this investment to create jobs in downtown Colorado Springs. The small businesses that we have helped to succeed and grow have since been acquired by large public companies. “
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Limited liability companies affiliated with the O’Neil group have acquired land and buildings near the campus to allow it to develop. Over the past two and a half years, LLCs have paid $ 9.15 million for buildings totaling 60,000 square feet at 545 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 422 E. Vermijo Ave. and 117 S. Wahsatch St. as well as 4.5 acres of old railroad tracks. right-of-way near Shooks Run Creek.
O’Neil wants to relocate tenants and demolish most of the three buildings on the land his company is acquiring to expand the campus and is still trying to purchase more adjacent land for future expansion. He plans to place old railroad cars on the old railroad right-of-way, in the same way that Red Leg Brewery used small metal shipping containers to house restaurants and food vendors to create an atmosphere. that will attract talented engineers and other similar workers to Denver’s Lower Downtown (LoDo) and River North (RINO) neighborhoods.
Colorado Springs campus hopes to be an economic force and attract cybersecurity companies
The campus opened in 2015 with a focus on space and cybersecurity, and now it is helping the Department of Defense integrate technology developed by space startups into military programs more quickly. Subsidiaries of the O’Neil group bought the old Santa Fe train station and two adjacent buildings in 2014 for $ 4 million. He spent more than $ 20 million on renovations and upgrades to make Catalyst Campus one of Colorado’s most technologically advanced business parks.
“We provide an environment in which the government has access to the traditional defense industry base, non-traditional commerce-oriented companies and universities to help accelerate the delivery of national security solutions to maintain a ahead of the evolving threat, ”said Patrick Barrett, CEO of Catalyst Campus. . Recent testimony before the Senate Armed Forces Committee shows that senior military officials believe this model is working.
New Colorado Springs center to help defense entrepreneurs diversify
General Glen Van Herck, commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, cited the Pathfinder program on the Catalyst Campus as a “best practice for innovation in the Department of Defense”. Engineers working for start-ups on campus are developing Pathfinder as a prototype of a new air command and control system that will replace six existing systems.
Catalyst Campus is also expanding to new locations beyond Colorado, opening a satellite office near the University of Maryland-College Park campus in February with plans to expand with more space in May 2022. L Software “factory” is designed to bring new capabilities to the Navy using the same model of hosting defense industry, small business, government and university teams that Catalyst Campus developed in Colorado Springs .
$ 750,000 grant will be used to build a cyber and space operations center in Colorado Springs
A third Catalyst Campus site is slated to open this fall in Ogden, Utah, near Hill Air Force Base, University of Utah, Utah State University and Weber State University. No location or timeline has been set for a fourth location, but Barrett said Catalyst Campus has a “long list” of communities that want to host the next location.
One of the newer tenants of the Catalyst Campus is ONE Dev, a defense outsourcing company founded by the O’Neil Group and run by Kevin O’Neil’s brother Ken O’Neil and Rob Patterson, an alumnus of the Braxton Science and Technology Group. executive. Kevin O’Neil said ONE Dev will use the same strategy that the O’Neil Group used when it owned Braxton – buy defense companies and move them to Colorado Springs. O’Neil Group sold Braxton in October to Parsons for $ 300 million.
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