Orion Center has hearing on tech campus proposal in Albuquerque


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Washington, D.C.-based business, that wants to move to Albuquerque to become a big player in the satellite industry, had a hearing Wednesday on the project in front of a city commission. Theia Group, and its subsidiary called Group Orion, are working to clear the first hurdle for the project that promises to build a massive satellite network.

“[It] is a substantial project from basically any measure, but including its physical size and its economic impact,” said Bruce Stidworthy with Bohannan Huston.

The so-called Orion Center would be built on what is currently a dirt lot and decommissioned runway, known as the Aviation Center of Excellence Business Park near the Sunport.

Renderings show the privately-owned Theia Corporation’s plans for the 116-acre space. That includes a 2-million-square-foot building for light manufacturing, a 1.3 million-square-foot research and testing facility, office space, and a seven-floor parking structure. Additionally, there are plans for a hotel, fitness center, food hall, and employee daycare.

The city’s Environmental Planning Commission approved the site plan for the sprawling development back in November.

Wednesday’s Development Review Board meeting was about the company showing the project sketch plat for city departments to review and ask questions about the details, like how to maintain existing trails; requesting new easements for water and sewer lines; and how to improve traffic flow in the area, like using Alamo Road to the west for extra traffic capacity.

“I think we need to have that addressed as part of a traffic study, in order to determine if there’s any additional roadway improvements that will be required there,” said Jeanne Wolfenbarger with the DRB. Stidworthy said the company is working out a lease agreement with City Aviation, which owns the property.

The corporation has said it could have more than 1,000 workers working on satellite tech by Summer 2023. Wednesday, the city said it has not provided any incentives to the company to move to Albuquerque. Group Orion is still working its way toward board approval. No word yet on what the tech campus would cost.

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