Feb. 01--HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- After less than two years, the massive Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park has lost what was arguably one of its most coveted tenants, but Air Force officials say the loss isn't as big as it might seem.
When Ogden City announced recently that the global aerospace and defense technology giant Northrop Grumman would be moving into a facility at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport'sKemp Gateway Center, it meant the company, and 250 of its employees, would be moving out of the Falcon Hill development.
The park, which takes up 550 acres along Hill's west side, has been touted as the largest enhanced-use lease project in the Department of Defense's history.
Through the project, the DoD allows a private developer -- Sunset Ridge Developers -- to lease land on base for commercial development while allowing Hill to share in the profits by way of new buildings for its own employees.
The first commercial development on the property was a five-story building that Northrop Grumman and its subcontractors began occupying in March 2012.
Hill's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile team also got a new building, right next door to Northrop Grumman.
When the structures opened, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held and attended by Utah's top political leaders, developers, and high ranking officials from the Air Force and the aerospace industry.
The Northrop Grumman building was lauded as an unprecedented partnership between government and the private sector.
Flash forward two years and 250 Northrop Grumman employees are packing up their things and heading north.
But according to Rick Fuit, deputy director of the Air Force's Nuclear Weapons Center ICBM Systems Directorate, what seems like an awful blow is just the cost of doing business.
"Changes in tenants are expected to occur," he said. "If a tenant moves all or a part of their operation, (Sunset Ridge) can lease the vacant space in the building to other contractors."
And that's exactly what's already happening, Fuit said.
Until recently, all personnel occupying the Northrop Grumman building worked under the ICBM "Prime Integration" contract, but changes in Air Force policy required that the contract be modified.
As a result, a role performed by Northrop Grumman was replaced by five individual contracts, performed by companies that have or will be moving into the building.
Fuit also said Northrop was unsuccessful in the competition for a major sustainment contract that was eventually awarded to BAE systems -- another reason for the move.
Fuit said the building Northrop Grumman is leaving won't be hurting for occupants as BAE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and a few smaller ICBM support contractors all continue to operate there.
For Northrop Grumman's part, Director of Engineering Mark Parson said the company has been scouting Ogden's Kemp Center since 2012, after an aerospace industry meeting was held there.
Kent Sulser, Davis County's Community and Economic Development director, expects the Northrop Grumman move to have relatively minor repercussions in Davis County, with some funds leaving the county, but not enough to make a significant dent.
Fuit said while the majority of Northrop Grumman's operation is moving, it will continue to have a small presence at Falcon Hill until its contract ends in the 2016 time frame.
Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.
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