In 2020, Colorado Springs Airport is anticipating the final phases of its terminal rebuild and modernization, more development in Peak Innovation Park, and the unfolding impact of the newly created U.S. Space Force.
Major construction to rehabilitate and modernize the airport terminal — the need for which was exacerbated by an accidental rooftop fire in April 2018 — is expected to be complete by the end of spring.
The current phase of the project includes updated escalators, restroom upgrades that improve accessibility, new paint, LED lighting and raised ceilings.
Its completion will mark the end of a years-long project encompassing renovations on all three floors of the terminal.
“At that point the entire public side of the terminal will be completely upgraded, completely finished, and a nice addition,” said Greg Phillips, city aviation director. “I’m sure a lot of our travelers are as tired of the construction as we are, but we’re getting there.”
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
COS had nearly 1.7 million total passengers in 2019, despite seeing a slight decline in total enplanements on the previous year.
To accommodate travelers in 2020, the airport will update the Colorado Springs Airport Master Plan, which serves as a 20-year roadmap.
The current master plan was completed in 2013 with major updates expected every eight to 12 years, depending on factors such as population and economic growth.
That involves studying facility needs and evaluating alternative solutions to guide the future development of the airport over the short, medium and long terms.
Phillips said COS has hired a consultant to help guide the master planning process for 2020.
“It’s certainly high time,” he said. “Because so many things have happened in Colorado Springs and there’s been so much movement at the airport itself. So we’re looking forward to that.”
PEAK INNOVATION PARK
Work is progressing south of the airport, at the 900-acre Peak Innovation Park — part of the Colorado Springs Airport Opportunity Zone, one of five such zones identified within city limits.
The first standing structure in the park, an Amazon distribution center, was built in 2019. Garrett Baum, managing partner for master developer Urban Frontier, said he expects to recruit more tenants in 2020.
“In the next 12 months I would like to see at least three to four additional buildings under construction, and I’d like to have an additional three to four prospects that would be under construction in 2021,” Baum said. “And with those, I’d love to see a couple thousand new employees in that south [Colorado Springs] market.”
Phillips said now that the business park is anchored by Amazon, it should only continue to grow.
SPACE FORCE POSSIBILITIES
The newly created U.S. Space Force could make Colorado Springs its permanent home, impacting the airport and the local aerospace industry in 2020 and beyond.
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act redesignates U.S. Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs as the Space Force.
The bill doesn’t explicitly designate where the new branch will be headquartered, but allocates $148 million to Schriever Air Force Base to begin construction on a Combined Space Operations Facility.
Congressman Doug Lamborn said after the bill was passed by a vote of 377-48 that Schriever will serve as the “beating heart [of] our nation’s space warfighting enterprise.
“With U.S. Space Command established in Colorado Springs earlier this year, and the bulk of the Space Force personnel currently serving on Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases,” he added, “this NDAA solidifies our community’s position as the premier defense space community of the United States.”
In a media briefing on Dec. 20, Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command, confirmed Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever Air Force Base would be among existing installations to house space units.
Peterson AFB shares an airfield with the adjacent COS, and Phillips said base personnel are already preparing for what Space Force might mean for the airport’s relationship with Peterson.
“As we look forward, the Space Force looks like it’s going to be a reality,” Phillips said. “Space Command has a temporary home at Peterson. Is that going to be a permanent home? Because if it’s going to be a permanent home, we fully expect there will be construction and development needs on Peterson, and possibly Schriever as well.
“I can tell you we’ve had conversations with them and I know the engineering staff on Peterson is trying to think ahead and trying to plan for what could happen so they’re ready for it. With that … I would imagine we would see some considerable development there and potential additional utilization of the airport.”