Fort Carson Expansion to Bring Jobs, Rental Occupancy to Colorado Springs

Fort Carson, a 137,000-acre U.S. Army Base in Colorado Springs, will see the addition of a 2,700-soldier aviation brigade by 2013, raising the total GI population of the base to around 30,000, according to Hendricks & Partners.

Fort Carson, a 137,000-acre U.S. Army Base in Colorado Springs, will see the addition of a 2,700-soldier aviation brigade by 2013, raising the total GI population of the base to around 30,000, according to Hendricks & Partners. The event is expected to add over 2,000 civilian jobs to the metro area between 2012 and 2013.

Col. Robert McLaughlin told KKTV in May 2011 that Fort Carson was chosen because the mountainous terrain will help condition pilots, especially considering “the way [the] helicopters operate in Afghanistan and the like conditions in Colorado.”

Hendricks & Partners projects that apartment demand will increase over the next couple of years and that the overall vacancy rate will decrease from 4.8 percent to 4.0 percent, both with respect to an influx of military personnel and other market forces. Vacancy rates had already fallen considerably between 2010 and 2011, from 6.1 percent to 4.8 percent.

Rental prices are also beginning to increase in all areas of the city, with the overall average rent rising to $722 a month. The central area saw the greatest uptick over the last year, as the average rent rose from $612 to $625 a month. Colorado Springs has often been recognized for its high level of affordability compared to other metro areas in the region.

Fort Carson will not be the only venue for job growth over the next couple of years. Agilent Technologies recently received an incentive package from the city to expand its data center and add a new technology center, a move that will add 131 new workers, according to Hendricks & Partners. Walmart will also build its new data center in the northern part of the city, spending anywhere from $150 million to $200 million on construction and eventually hiring around 30 workers.

This all occurs as the national economy continues to gain momentum, as the unemployment rate fell from 8.6 percent to 8.3 percent in January 2012 alone. The Colorado Springs metro area saw its local unemployment rate fall from 9.4 percent to 8.5 percent between 2010 and 2011, and this trend is expected to increase barring any unforeseen calamities affecting national recovery, such as credit contagions spreading from Europe.

The metro area’s overall population grew 1.4% in 2011, and the median household income was $63,494. Yet, as with many cities in the country, new multifamily construction remains lethargic, as demand for rentals has not reached the threshold necessary to warrant much new building. That said, a 1,000-unit community has been proposed for the southwest area of the city, while a newly completed 230-unit project is expected to begin leasing in late 2012.

Hendricks and Partners expects that average rent will increase by 2.5 percent in 2012 and 4 percent in 2013.