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Kirtland chooses partner for off-site development

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Kirtland Air Force Base has chosen a development partner to negotiate a contract for leasing about 100 acres along Gibson Boulevard.

The company, identified as Thunderbird Kirtland Development Ltd., has submitted a proposal to develop a research park with office, industrial, laboratory, retail, and hospitality facilities, according to a news release sent out by Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Negotiations between Thunderbird and the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations to hash out a long-term lease are expected to be concluded within 180 days, according to the release.

“The research park will revitalize the area while remaining compatible with the missions, plans and programs at Kirtland,” reads the release. The land, which was once base housing, is along Gibson between the base’s Truman and Carlisle gates.

A Kirtland spokesman this week could not provide any details related on Thunderbird.

The base leader recently outlined some of the possible ways of boosting the area’s economy through a process called an enhanced-use lease.

“Potential tenants may be from the defense sector and would complement these mission sets we have at Kirtland,” Base Commander Col. Eric Froelich said at an industry day event held earlier this year.

“Lease payments would come to Kirtland so we can do infrastructure improvements, and the land available (for development) provides proximity to labs like AFRL, Special Operations Wings and Sandia,” Froelich said.

The Air Force would not take on any financial or other responsibility for operation or use of the proposed commercial development.

The Kirtland  initiative is one of several potential developments eyed by Albuquerque land owners.

The city has officially started work on a long-discussed 80-acre commercial development at the Albuquerque International Sunport. The goal is to transform a decommissioned runway into space for aviation and aerospace industry tenants, plus retail businesses eager for some of the plot’s Gibson Boulevard frontage.

Nearby, the 330-acre Sunport South Business Park is being marketed to regional firms and national companies, according to Albuquerque representatives of the Phoenix-based developer.

And a new industrial complex called New Mexico Rail Park is proposed for a 1,400-acre site west of Los Lunas. The park is designed for large land users, such as third-party logistics operations, as well as sites for manufacturing, warehouse and distribution opportunities.