A Los Angeles-area real estate investment firm that bought the former Intel Corp. chipmaking plant in Colorado Springs and transformed it into a home for multiple users now plans to do the same with the vacant Sanmina-SCI plant in Fountain.
Industrial Realty Group on Tuesday completed the purchase of the 360,000-square-foot, 96-acre Sanmina-SCI facility at 702 Bandley Drive, which has been empty since the electronics manufacturer closed the plant in December 2007 and laid off more than 300 people.
The purchase price wasn't immediately available, although it was listed for sale for $8.9 million, down from an original asking price of $18 million.
"IRG's mission is to buy large, vacant properties throughout the country and redevelop them," said John Mase, Industrial Realty Group's CEO and a board member of the privately held company. "We believe this is a perfect property that fits our mode for redevelopment."
IRG is talking to a number of potential users, but has no leases signed for the plant, Mase said. The company plans to make "heavy expenditures" on improvements to the building to make it more attractive for lease to multiple tenants, he said.
"We think it will be too hard to find one tenant for the entire site," Mase said. "Our goal is to create jobs. We've been very, very successful throughout the country doing this."
The amount that IRG spends on upgrading the building won't be determined until the company attracts tenants, Mase said. But, he added, "We're not shy about investing in our properties to really turn them around.
The purchase could be significant for Fountain, said Randy Dowis, a broker with NAI Highland Commercial Group in Colorado Springs and who, along with Highland Commercial's Paul Engel, represented Sanmina-SCI in its sale of the property. Dowis and Engel also worked with a San Jose firm in representing Sanmina-SCI; broker Michael Palmer of Quantum Commercial Group represented IRG.
IRG, whose website says it owns more than 100 properties with 80 million square feet of commercial and industrial space in 25 states, has a track record of transforming similar properties and attracting tenants, Dowis said. Sanmina-SCI, meanwhile, had no desire to be a landlord for multiple users, he said.
"They (IRG) will attract some employers down there," Dowis said. "There's no doubt about it."
IRG bought the former Intel plant on Garden of the Gods Road for $15.1 million in November 2009. Since then, the complex has become home to several El Paso County government offices and an Everest University call center.
The Sanmina-SCI building was constructed in the 1980s for a computer manufacturer, and, in an economic development coup for the region, became an Apple Computer manufacturing plant in 1991.
SCI Systems of Alabama, then one of the world's largest manufacturers of electronic and computer components and products, bought the plant from Apple in 1996. California-based Sanmina Corp. and SCI merged in 2002.
Throughout that decade, waves of layoffs hit the area's tech industry as companies downsized and shipped jobs overseas. Sanmina-SCI went through several rounds of layoffs before closing the plant.
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