A partnership that includes the majority owners of Braxton Technologies has acquired the former Chase Bank building in downtown Colorado Springs and plans to move the defense software company there in October in a bid to adopt a higher profile locally.
Six North Holdings, which includes Braxton majority owner The O’Neil Group Co. and other local investors, paid $5.8 million last month to acquire Bank of America’s position in the property, allowing the partnership to receive a deed for the building once a foreclosure was completed. Bank of America sought foreclosure nearly a year ago of an $8 million loan on the 130,000-square-foot building at 6 N. Tejon St. and successfully bid $5.8 million in a June 22 foreclosure auction, according to the El Paso County Public Trustee’s Office.
“This building fits our needs. We believe moving downtown will help both Braxton and the community,” said Kevin O’Neil, president of both Braxton and The O’Neil Group Co. “We wanted to have a facility that reflected our image and create a positive image for the community, since most of our management team are Colorado Springs natives. We want to portray ourselves as one of the fastest growing companies in this area so we can attract and retain top employees, including graduates from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs College of Engineering.”
The O’Neil Group Co., which already owns commercial, industrial and residential land and buildings in the Springs area, is looking to buy other area properties that fit its model of buying and rehabilitating businesses and real estate, O’Neil said.
Braxton, which has more than 90 employees, now leases 14,000 square feet of space at 770 Wooten Road in eastern Colorado Springs and plans to move into a similar amount of space in the downtown building once renovations are completed this fall, O’Neil said. Once the move is complete, the occupancy rate for the building will increase from less than 50 percent to nearly two-thirds and likely will rise even higher with vigorous leasing activity and interest from potential tenants since the sale was completed, he said.
Sam Eppley, vice president of the Downtown Partnership and owner of Sparrow Hawk Gourmet Cookware, said he was thrilled by Braxton’s move to downtown, which he said would mean “more customers for everybody and more activity for every downtown business, the arts and restaurants.”
Andy Oyler of Grubb & Ellis/Quantum Commercial Group, who worked with fellow Grubb & Ellis agent Mary Frances Cowan for 3½ years to sell the property, said the sale and Braxton move are “exciting for not only Colorado Springs, but the downtown area as well. They are filling a huge void and bringing in a lot of high-paid engineers to downtown Colorado Springs, which will support retailers, residential properties and everything in the downtown area. There was a lot of interest in this building, and these buyers were selected because they will be owner-users.”
Braxton has grown to 94 permanent and temporary employees from 54 a year ago. Much of the growth resulted from subcontracts totaling more than $40 million with ITT on the Space Communications and Network Services contract, Raytheon on the Global Positioning System Operational Control System contract, Lockheed Martin on the Integrated Space Command and Control contract and URS on the Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations Center Support contract. Braxton’s most recent win was a $1.2 million contract with Boeing to supply orbital analysis software for its satellites.
“Part of the continued growth of the company is due to the fact that we retained the CEO, Frank Backes; the founder, Bill Simpson, and the core base of employees when we acquired the company in 2008. Only a handful of employees have left in the past three years,” O’Neil said.