DENVER-The Lowry Air Force Base redevelopment created a $5.7-billion gross economic impact between 1994 and 2005, with commercial real estate development being one of the driving forces, according to new research by Development Research Partners, a local real estate analysis and economic development research company. Approximately $3.3 billion directly benefited the City and County of Denver, including $128.1 million in taxes and fees. The remaining $2.4 billion benefited the City of Aurora, the State of Colorado and surrounding states. The research was commissioned to update an economic impact report completed in 2004.

“Lowry is a maturing community, and the economic impact compounds every year,” says Tom Markham, executive director of the Lowry Redevelopment Authority. “As we approach completion, we feel it’s important to quantify the public benefit of redeveloping Lowry Air Force Base.”

The data is also useful to the 25 communities with military bases announced for closure in 2005, he adds. “We want to demonstrate that there can be life after base closure,” says Markham, who is also president of the National Association of Defense Communities, a group that represents interests of all military bases, whether active, closed or in the process of being closed.

Lowry Air Force Base closed in 1994 and the redevelopment is approximately 80% complete. About 25,000 people live, work and attend school at Lowry. The total market value for residential and nonresidential construction at Lowry is $1.5 billion.

The total economic benefit of residential and nonresidential construction activity to the City and County of Denver since 1994 is $456.7 million, including $21.6 million in taxes and fees, according to the report. In 2004 and 2005, approximately 146,000 sf of new commercial space and more than 650 residential units were built at Lowry, along with $10.6 million in infrastructure improvements.

Commercial development in 2004 and 2005 included the Lowry Medical Center, Lowry 24 Hour Fitness Club, Powerhouse Plaza Office Condominiums and the Richards Building. In addition, the Lowry Redevelopment Authority has spent about $102 million in site-wide infrastructure improvements since 1994, including demolition of 291 Air Force buildings, demolition and recycling of 600,000 tons of concrete and runways, and construction of 37 miles of new roads and 53 miles of new utilities.

Construction at Lowry has employed an average of 768 workers per year. The 102 employers at Lowry occupy 3.4 million sf and employ 7,100 people. Lowry employers are private businesses, nonprofit organizations, state and federal government and schools. About one-third of the employers are medical office firms. Office uses account for 37% of total nonresidential space; educational facilities make up 21%; medical uses total 17 %; recreational uses account for 12 %, warehouse/distribution make up 8%; and retail stores total 5%. All remaining commercial parcels of land are under letter of intent or contract. Commercial development should be complete by 2009, according to Markham.

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