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  • Construction underway on World View lease property, SpacePort Tucson

    Jun 14, 2016 | Read More News
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    world viewPima County has started construction of SpacePort Tucson and a building it will lease to World View, a local space technology company. 

    The county signed an economic development agreement with World View in January in an effort to keep the company in Tucson and the expected 400-500 high-paying jobs it will create. World View uses high altitude balloons to launch research, communications and technology payloads to the stratosphere. It also is developing capsules to lift research scientists and eventually tourists to the upper reaches of the atmosphere, or near space. 

    The company in 2015 had considered moving its Tucson-based operations to another state when Arizona Commerce Authority and Sun Corridor officials asked Pima County to assist in retaining the company in Arizona. Every state in the southern United States has a spaceport and is courting the dozens of new companies, as well as veteran space industry corporations, that are capitalizing on the rapid privatization of space travel, research and technology. Pima County’s agreement with World View gives the county and the state a foothold in these fast growing industries. 

    One of the key tenets of the World View agreement was that the company needed to be operating in a new facility by November 2016 in order to meet deliverables requirements in contracts it was negotiating. New Mexico and Florida were offering move-in ready buildings. 
    In order to meet the deadline, Pima County chose property it owned and on which it had already completed preliminary site review work that would normally have required six months or more to complete. Additionally, in anticipation of reaching an agreement with Pima County, World View hired an architect and contractor to begin the design program for the building. The county subsequently hired those same firms under an emergency clause allowed by state law in order to ensure the November deadline would be met. Construction of both public facilities is on schedule.

    World View will lease the county-owned building for use as a headquarters and manufacturing facility. The county also will own SpacePort Tucson and contract with World View to manage the launchpad facility. 

    Below is a timeline of site review and development:
    • 2012 – Pima County acquired nearly 400 acres south of Raytheon to protect the missile manufacturer from residential encroachment. The World View and SpacePort Tucson sites were part this acquired land. 
    • March 2013 – In anticipation of relocating Hughes Access Road a half-mile to the south and the future development of a business park, the county commissioned SWCA Environmental Consultants to conduct a cultural resources review of 1,600 acres owned by the county, the city of Tucson and the Tucson Airport Authority. The review included an examination for areas of archeological and historical significance. No areas of significance were found. The World View and launchpad sites were part of this review. 
    • 2014 – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a jurisdictional delineation for the 1,600 acres that determined the area does not have any waters of the United States requiring Corps permits. The World View and SpacePort Tucson sites were part of this delineation. 
    • 2014 – The county conducted a biological assessment of the planned route for the Hughes Access Road realignment. The World View and Tucson sites were part of this assessment. 
    • 2015 – Pima County relocated Hughes Access Road and renamed the road Aerospace Parkway. The World View site borders the Parkway. 
    • 2015 – In order to give Pima County the information it needed to craft an economic development agreement with World View, the aerospace company hired architectural firm Swaim and Associates and construction contractor Barker Morrissey to begin designing the building. 
    • January 2016 – Pima County signed a lease agreement with World View and agreed to contract with Swaim and Barker Morrissey as the architect and contractor so that their months of progress designing the building could be maintained. Due to the unique requirements of a November 2016 construction completion deadline set by World View, the Board of Supervisors used an emergency clause allowable under state procurement law. 
    • January 2016 – State Land Department issued the county the required notice to begin clearing and salvaging the vegetation at the site. 
    • February 2016 – Using the 2013 cultural resources review, the county was able to conduct expedited archeological, historical and biological reviews of the World View site. Using updated 2016 reviews and the 2013 SWCA review, and under the authority of an intergovernmental agreement between the county and the state Historic Preservation Office, the county’s Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Division determined there were no sites of cultural, historical or archeological significance and issued the county the requisite clearances needed for construction. 
    • March-May, 2016 – Site clearing and preparation was completed. Architectural design for the building shell was completed. 
    • June 2016 – Construction of the outer shell begins and architectural design of the interior continues. 
    • December 2016 – Current construction completion estimate. 

    Learn more about the World View agreement. 


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