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AURORA, CO-Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Mission Systems plans to break ground in the first week of July on an 80,000-sf expansion of its campus in this city. And as part of the deal, Northrop also renewed its lease of 108,240-sf in an adjacent building at 750 S. Richfield St.

“The entire lease transaction is about 188,000 sf,” including the new three-story building and the long-term renewal, says Alan Seiver, who handled the deal with fellow Grubb & Ellis broker Mark Schuster.

“I can’t think of a bigger lease signed so far this year,” Seiver tells GlobeSt.com. “It very well may be the biggest office lease signed this year.”

Northrop’s landlord is Wells Real Estate Funds. Northrop currently has three buildings with a total of 265,000 sf in Aurora.

Schuster says the lease is part of the growth of defense contractors in the area.

“Northrop, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, they’re all growing,” Schuster says.

The building, which will open in September 2005, will be able to house 400 people, according to Wendy Mitchell, president of the Aurora Economic Development Council.

“The space and defense industry continues to prosper in the city of Aurora,” Mitchell says. “It just makes sense for companies like Northrop Grumman to expand their operations here.”

Aurora currently has 7,500 space and defense industry employees.

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