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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO-Giant chipmaker Intel Corp. placed 700 acres in Colorado Springs under contract in a $5.23-million option. The San Jose, CA-based company has plunked down a non-refundable $300,000 for the land, which is located about three miles south of the Colorado Springs airport.

If Intel follows through on purchase, it would create the second biggest campus in the country, falling just 30 acres shy of matching its Octotillo, AZ location. The land used to be part of the 24,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch, annexed by the city in 1988. A year later, the acreage fell into receivership when its special district defaulted on millions of dollars in bonds to finance infrastructure on the parcel.

The Colorado Springs City Council recently approved a one-time fee of $3,000 per acre to settle concerns that a property owner would have to pay too much money for roads and other improvements to the land. Conceivably, the buyer would have been responsible for all of the improvements for the entire Banning Lewis Ranch. The one-time fee would add $2.1 million to the $5.3 million price tag, but would get it off the hook as far as paying for other improvements to the full 24,000 acres.

Intel currently employs 1,100 people in a 500,000-sf plant on Garden of the Gods Road in northwest El Paso County. That plant sits on 62 acres.

How many jobs the much larger land parcel would create is uncertain. “But it’s a good thing,” Rocky Scott, president of the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., tells GlobeSt.com. “I like it.” It would be nice to see Intel expand, he says. “More important than even the jobs, the plant they now have on Garden of the Gods is considered an orphan plant,” Scott says. “Because it’s out by itself, it would be unsustainable in its business model. The scale is too small.”

While Intel, like much of the high-tech world is suffering today, that could quickly change. “This market goes down fast, but it goes up fast, too,” Scott says.

Scott points out that Intel is still going through its due diligence. “This is one of 12 communities across the world Intel is looking at,” he explains. “There is no certainty at this point that we’re going to win. But we are in the hunt. And it’s important to be in the hunt.

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