End of an era on Garden of the Gods Rd.
Retail to replace original Kaman Sciences buildings

       It was in 1960 that the first building appeared west of I-25 on Garden of the Gods Road, which was then a two-lane road through cattle pastures.
       Over the past several weeks, that building, as well as three others former defense contractor Kaman Sciences erected over the years, have been gradually disappearing, chunk by chunk, before a team of large backhoes.
       When the land is cleared, conceptual plans call for retail commercial development on five one-acre lots that front on the road, according to Gary Hollenbeck, who will be a managing partner in the development. He owns 10 acres in all of the former Kaman Sciences complex about a quarter-mile west of Centennial Boulevard. The rear five of those acres are also available, although the frontage properties are seen as the most desirable.
       “Garden of the Gods Road is evolving into a mixed-use area,” Hollenbeck said in a recent interview. “This is such a good location, and there's very little available land that fronts on the road.”
       Last fall, Hollenbeck obtained a zone change to allow retail commercial there. Previously, the site had an industrial zone - a throwback to when Kaman was lured to the area to become the first tenant in the Chamber of Commerce's Pikes Peak Industrial Park in an area far from any other development.
       Several industrial companies still exist along the now-six-lane road, including ITT, Hewlett Packard and Intel. But in recent years, retail stores have been steadily marching west along the mile or so from I-25. “It's natural to extend that,” Hollenbeck said. “We're maximizing the land, giving it a higher and better use.”
       Hollenbeck has previously led the construction of a total of 800,000 square feet of commercial and office developments elsewhere in Colorado Springs. He said his development plan for the former Kaman Sciences property is in the design phase.
       Originating in 1957 in Albuquerque, N.M., as the Nuclear Division of Kaman Aircraft Corp., Kaman Sciences was for years one of Colorado Springs' major employers, producing scientific reports as well as hardware components and systems for a variety of customers but mainly the federal government and defense-related industries.
       As it grew steadily over the years, Kaman constructed six buildings in all. The first two (Buildings 1 and 2) were built along Garden of the Gods Road, with 3 and 4 just north of them, and the newest buildings (5 and 6) further north.
       Hollenbeck said he initially bought 20 acres, including all six Kaman buildings, paying about $15 million. By contrast, Kaman Sciences paid between $500 and $1,000 an acre in its day, with the first two buildings costing a total of less than $500,000, according to former company president Albert Bridges.
       Hollenbeck has since sold the properties with the newer buildings - the 30,000-square-foot Build-ing 5 to the International Education Foundation for $3.4 million and the 50,000-square-foot Building 6 to SRAM (a bicycle components company) for $6.3 million.
       Buildings 1 through 4, totaling 150,000 square feet, are the only ones being torn down. Hollenbeck noted that he waited for the leases to expire for the previous tenants before initiating the demolition effort.
       Kaman Sciences left the complex in 1997, when the business was bought by ITT. According to Bridges, some of the company's scientists moved to the Kaman Aerospace Corp., which continues to operate on the Colorado Springs eastside.

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