Braxton Technologies is moving its headquarters into the former Chase bank building at the corner of Tejon Street and Pikes Peak Avenue, downtown’s most prominent intersection.
Braxton’s owner, The O’Neil Group, is buying the building at 6 N. Tejon St. and plans to move the defense software company and its 80 employees from their location at 770 Wooten Road in October, when renovations to the Chase building are complete.
“We really wanted to show our support of downtown,” said Kevin O’Neil, president and chairman of the board.
Public relations and marketing firm Vladimir Jones is located in the five-story building as well as The Melting Pot fondue restaurant, but most of the building’s 100,000-square-feet have sat vacant since late 2009 when Chase moved its Colorado Springs headquarters a few blocks to the north.
The building went into foreclosure in August 2010.
The O’Neil Group, along with a group of investors, started making plans to purchase the building in April 2010.
The building’s price was listed at $7.26 million, but the O’Neil group bought it for $5.2 million from Bank of America.
O’Neil gave credit to the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. for its support of the decision to move downtown.
“This is about growth, it’s about jobs,” he said. “And the EDC has been more than helpful in helping us through this process.”
The ultimate goal behind the move is to drive more defense-oriented businesses, and their high tech workers and engineers, into downtown.
“It’s our goal not only to promote the revitalization of downtown, but to participate in it directly,” said O’Neil, who is also on the board of the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. “We’re bringing workers to the downtown area who have high-wage jobs, who are settled in the community. We’re keeping this local because we believe that’s important.”
The company has expanded continuously since The O’Neil Group purchased it in 2008, and O’Neil said he expects it to keep growing, despite federal defense-budget cuts.
“Braxton is a different kind of government contractor,” he said. “We’re a software product company, and our products can be customized for every customer’s needs. We’re smaller, we’re more nimble and our products are designed to make it easier to do the job — and less expensive to do it.”
Earlier this year, the company won an 18-month, $1.2 million contract with Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems to supply software for satellites.
Braxton will provide orbital analysis software for Boeing 702MP, 702HP and geomobile satellites, which will help with Boeing’s transfer-orbit and station-keeping operations. For nearly 10 years, Braxton has partnered with Boeing for space missions.
Its work on the Global Positioning System — updating the satellite constellation to the next generation — is also now operational at Schreiver Air Force Base.
The O’Neil Group owns about eight businesses, including property management and other non-defense related businesses.
It’s now entering the leasing business, with its purchase of the Chase building.
“This move positions The O’Neil Group and Braxton to take advantage of business opportunities that might be presented as the Springs, and the downtown in particular, begins to climb out of the recessive environment we have faced over the last three years,” he said.
The ownership group expects “robust leasing activity. But that’s not all. The company chose downtown — and the Chase building in particular — to help improve business overall in the downtown business district.
“If you add all these new employees, then you have more people shopping, more people eating at the restaurants, and it generally boosts business. Lease rates go up,’ he said. “That’s our goal — to create a vibrant, vital downtown. This is just the first step — the first in many announcements.”
Dave Csintyan, CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, said The O’Neil Group’s decision “made sense intuitively.”
“That’s known as the busy corner — the corner of Pikes Peak and Tejon,” he said. “Having a high profile company at a high profile location is sure to pull other businesses downtown.”
The downtown area’s restaurants always perform well, he said, but having more businesses locate in the area is vital.
“We have a lot of restaurants and retail,” he said. “But business is really what we need, when we talk about growth, about jobs.”