Falcon Hill wins major recognition with award

Major construction on the Falcon Hill Research Park hasn't even started, but the project already has won an award.

Hill Air Force Base's Enhanced Use Lease team was recognized by Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force, during a ceremony at the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition recently in Washington, D.C.

The Hill EUL group was one of five teams selected for the 2009 Chief of Staff Team Excellence Awards. The selection was made from 114 initial submissions. The Falcon Hill project encompasses 550 acres on Hill's west side and is a $1.5 billion public-private venture of the state of Utah, Hill and Woodbury Corporation.

The EUL project allows private entities to lease underutilized military land and is expected to attract software, engineering, composite and computer companies.

In addition to government office buildings, the land will include nearly 2 million square feet of business space in the first phase.

Darrin Wray, chief of the EUL office at Hill, said the deal allows the Air Force to make $450 million for the 550 acres, which is valued at $10 million.

"Up until now, the Air Force would appraise the land and then trade it value for value," Wray said, "so if the land was worth $10 million, that's what the Air Force would get for it. But now we're kind of changing the way things are done."

Mark Holt, Falcon Hill project engineer, said he's been in contact with Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico and Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, and all have expressed interest in following Hill's lead with the Falcon Hill project.

"There are a lot of other folks out there looking to replicate what we've done," he said. "It's opening the doors in the Air Force to do things in a whole new way."

Improvements made by all of the award nominees may save the Air Force as much as $1.5 billion, officials said.

The first major construction for the Falcon Hill development begins early next month. Crews will move the security fence at Hill's West Gate to the east, begin construction on two new buildings and reconfigure 650 North.

The first two buildings to go up include a gate house and a building to house Hill's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile group. The building will be owned and operated by Northrop Grumman Corp. and leased to the Air Force.

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