Big potential for ConocoPhillips site
WK Real Estate
Experts think rezoned property could handle 10,000 people
By John Rebchook and Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News
Friday, February 22, 2008
The 432-acre campus in Louisville purchased by ConocoPhillips could be rezoned to easily handle 10,000 or more people, several experts said Thursday.
That would be 3,000 people more than Storage Technology employed at its peak at the site along U.S. 36, which ConocoPhillips, the giant energy company, purchased for $58.5 million in January from Sun Microsystems.
Gov. Bill Ritter on Wednesday revealed that ConocoPhillips purchased the site for a new Global Technology Center and Corporate Learning Center but said Conoco didn't know how many people will work there.
Since the company plans a training center, it's likely that most ConocoPhillips employees on site at any given time would be trainees rather than permanent new employees.
Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., said when he spoke to a Conoco person Wednesday, he was told it was premature to give a size to the work force.
"We're still scoping the project, but you can do the math" to get an estimate of how many people could work there, based on the size, Clark was told.
And the math easily supports well in excess of 10,000 on the site, Clark said.
"This would dwarf any economic development deal in the history of the state."
He said 10,000 jobs there would create another 18,000 jobs for an economic impact of $1.7 billion a year.
Even if a large number of the people on the campus were coming in solely for training, that would be a boon for everything from the hotels and restaurants in the area to increased flights at Denver International Airport.
"That would really help us with getting flights to Asia," Clark said. "It would especially help us with flights to China, with its seemingly insatiable thirst for oil and renewable and alternative sources of energy."
ConocoPhillips could easily rezone the property from industrial, allowing 5 million to 5.5 million square feet of a wide range of buildings, from offices to industrial to research and development facilities, and even retail and hotels, said Paul Wood, planning director for Louisville.
That is more than triple the 1.6 million square feet in the existing 10 buildings, he said.
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