Transformation underway for the former military site


The impacts of the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure Commissions (BRACs) in the late 1980s and early 1990s rippled through Colorado for decades.

After a major redevelopment of the former Lowry Air Force Base and Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in the Denver subway, the US Army’s former Pueblo Chemical Depot is looking to chart a different course.

The Colorado state legislature established the Pueblo Depot Activity Development Authority to oversee the site in 1995. Now known as PuebloPlex, the sprawling 23,000-acre site includes more than 600 “storage igloos” (of which about 500 are currently leased) as well as large warehouses and a rail network.

But the PuebloPlex vision involves much more. Approved in 2016, the redevelopment plan focuses on creating a hub for the manufacturing, distribution and railroad-related industries.

“Basically what we are is an economic development organization; we don’t own any property yet, ”said PuebloPlex executive director Russell DeSalvo III. “We operate under a master lease with the United States military. What we have done is renovate buildings, lease them to companies and manufacturers.

DeSalvo expects PuebloPlex to enter its next phase in 2022 or early 2023, after state and military officials approved environmental remediation of approximately 5,000 acres and transferred ownership and control of the land at PuebloPlex.

A subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, the Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) is moving to PuebloPlex from a federal facility in Pueblo starting in 2022. “It’s absolutely perfect reuse for our property, as we have a well-established rail network,” says DeSalvo.

Beyond the construction of a test track, a laboratory space and a training center for first responders at PuebloPlex, TTCI has partnered with the American-Swiss startup Swisspod to create a hyperloop test at PuebloPlex. He will seek to prove the concept of high speed transport via capsules sealed in a depressurized tube; the inauguration is scheduled for mid-2022.

Since most TTCI employees live in Pueblo or Colorado Springs, part of the move was about retention, but there are other benefits. “If you look at the space requirements for the work TTCI does for the North American rail industry, that’s no small footprint,” said Kari Gonzales, president and CEO of TTCI.

And Gonzales sees it as an even better bet in the longer term. “It’s a great place for other organizations, whether they’re startups or manufacturers, to be able to start building their own facilities at PuebloPlex,” she says. “The proximity to a state-of-the-art test track that can serve as a testing ground for many of the products they offer will be unmatched. “

The repository is the site of a chemical weapons disposal program at the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP), which will operate until stockpiles are depleted in late 2023.

“There is a separate process that we have to go through to acquire the additional 7,000 acres and the multi-billion dollar facility. [PCAPP] on this property which is currently destroying chemical weapons, ”says DeSalvo. “We are currently working on acquiring this facility as well, which would be good for DuPont or a large chemical company. This is the project for next year.

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