U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky
U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky

 

Peterson Air Force Base is a single step away from adding 200 acres to its lease with Colorado Springs that would allow the base to bring aboard new missions.

After the potential expansion was announced in 2015 during the annual State of the Wing address, the city did its part in solidifying the agreement and is now waiting on Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon to give it final approval.

The 200-acre, city-owned parcel is located northeast of the base, north of the airport’s eastern runway and is currently an undeveloped grassland.

The base is about 1,300 acres and the Air Force only owns roughly 200, leasing the rest from the city for $1 a year. Peterson uses the Colorado Springs Airport for its military missions and in exchange, the Air Force provides emergency fire response at the airport.

“That saves the Air Force a considerable amount of money, as well as the airport because they don’t have to maintain their own capability there,” said Andy Merritt, chief defense industry officer for the Regional Business Alliance.

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Talk of land expansion at Peterson has been circulating in the community since 2007.

New missions at the base could bring private defense contractors, resulting in more jobs in Colorado Springs.

For years, Peterson has been tight on space for new missions; the new land could allow the base to relocate its parking lots around the command complex onto the new land, making way for new facilities or units.

“They’re landlocked,” Merritt said. “If they need to put up a significant building, they don’t have room.”

Peterson is home to the Air Force Space Command, the U.S. Northern Command, the Army Space Missile Defense Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD.

“Peterson is always a sought-after base for new missions to locate at,” Merritt said.

“This would be a very positive step for the base going into the new year, being able to plan for 2016 on what they can add and how to do it.”

The 21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office said it is still waiting for an update on the expansion.

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A Colorado native, Amber Baillie graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. For over three years, she wrote for the Air Force Academy's official base newspaper and has written articles for Your Boulder and the Cheyenne and Woodmen Editions. For the Business Journal, she covers cyber, aerospace and defense, and nonprofit news.

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