Construction of new building, cornerstone of 'Silicon Hill,' begins at Hill AFB

Tuesday , March 07, 2017 - 5:00 AM

MITCH SHAW, Standard-Examiner Staff

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Construction of the first “outside-the-fence” tech building at a massive Hill Air Force Base development carries with it some lofty expectations.

Last week, ground was broken for a new 21,000-square-foot building at the Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park, a 550-acre public-private partnership between the Air Force and Sunset Ridge Development Partners, a collaboration between Woodbury Corporation and Hunt Companies.

The new building will be leased by the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative and will house an “Innovation Center.” 

• RELATED: Falcon Hill development picking up steam

In a joint press release, USTAR Executive Director Ivy Estabrooke said the center will give area technology entrepreneurs access to specialized equipment, mentoring services and engineers from the base — all in an effort to grow Utah’s aerospace and composites sectors.

The center will also provide additional workspace to Hill engineers.

Once the building is complete, sometime in the fall of 2017, it will include 8,000 square feet of office space and labs, and 13,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing, research and development projects.

Taylor Woodbury, chief operating officer at Woodbury Corporation, said it’s envisioned the USTAR center will serve as the foundation for a thriving tech community in Northern Utah he called “Silicon Hill.” 

The USTAR facility is the latest in a series of projects built on Falcon Hill as part of the Air Force’s “Enhanced Use Lease” program, in which the Air Force leases land to a developer to build commercial space and build up base infrastructure. 

This summer, a 75,000-square-foot building leased by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and other tenants will open at Falcon Hill.

• RELATED: New Lockheed Martin facility at HAFB expected to bring up to 500 new jobs

That building will serve as a program management office as Lockheed develops a replacement for the Air Force’s fleet of Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. Under the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, Lockheed is competing for a multibillion-dollar contract to replace the ground portion of the country’s nuclear triad.

When ground was broken for that facility in December, Gov. Gary Herbert said the operation was expected to bring approximately 500 new jobs to Utah.

The Falcon Hill site will ultimately include over 2 million square feet of commercial space in its first phase, with additional phases planned beyond that.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer/.

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