1987 - US West project marked return to optimism
In June, after laying off more than 3,000 workers during the previous two and one-half years, Storage Technology Corp. of Louisville completed its climb out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It handed more than $1 billion to its creditors and in July celebrated with a bash for its remaining 4,000 employees.
In November, former Copper Mountain ski resort chief executive Andy Daly reopened Eldora ski area, which had closed in 1986.
Then, in December, came the economic coup of the decade.
Denver-based “Baby Bell” U S West (now CenturyLink) was outgrowing its advanced-technology unit in Englewood. The company needed a new facility to house what it thought would be close to 1,500 workers.
Unlike other more aggressive Front Range cities, Boulder had decided it was a place primarily for homegrown companies. Not much outside recruiting was going on.
But when U S West hinted it might be interested in Boulder, largely because it was home to CU and its accompanying brain trust, city government and the business and university communities decided it was worth at least one good shot to land the facility.
Initially, U S West said it needed 100 acres to build a 500,000-square-foot, $50 million building, and Boulder pushed several sites that could handle that large a facility. CU’s newly minted research park wasn’t even on the list of possible sites. It was too small, and had no infrastructure in place.
Then, the mother of all Baby Bells, AT&T, requested that the U.S. District Court restrict her offspring from designing hardware and some software because it might produce technologies that could then be manufactured by companies other than AT&T. The court agreed, meaning that U S West would need less than half its anticipated space.
CU’s research park got the nod on Dec. 10. After torturous negotiations, U S West signed a lease with CU for a 289,000-square-foot, $42 million tech center.
Instead of 1,500 jobs, there would be 450, U S West said. But there would be more jobs coming, and eventually the full complement of 1,500 would be reached.