Orica, an Australian-based explosives company, is preparing to blast off from its current North American headquarters east of Aurora.
The company has listed for sale its property at 33101 E. Quincy Ave., which includes 478 acres of land and nearly 78,000 square feet of building space. The property has a Watkins mailing address, and is about eight miles south of Interstate 70 and seven miles west of E-470.
The asking price is $12 million.
Built in 1999, the campus is relatively new and has only ever been home to Orica. The company — founded in 1874 to supply explosives to goldfields in Victoria, Australia — consolidated its locations in Texas and Quebec, Canada, at the Watkins location.
Orica chose Watkins because it provided plenty of space for research and development operations while being close to a metropolitan area, company spokeswoman Jennifer Dunne said in an email.
But Dunne said the company has decided the site is just too far from where most workers live. About 100 employees and contractors work from the campus, using less than 50 percent of the space, she said. Their roles range from human resources to marketing to technical services.
“We are currently exploring several options for the relocation of our headquarters to another location in or around the southern part of the Denver metro area,” Dunne said. “This location is closer to most of our employee’s homes and will enhance our employee’s work life balance. Our research and development team are currently looking at space close to the existing Watkins location.”
The campus contains multiple structures on one portion of the site. There’s 63,800 square feet of main office space, a 5,100-square-foot mixing lab, and a 5,800-square-foot mechanical building, along with smaller structures. The property has a mechatronics lab, chemistry lab, impact lab and blast tank, Dunne said.
There’s also a 1,600-foot-deep well and a 250,000 gallon storage tank.
Mark Dwyer, a Lincoln Property Co. broker marketing the site, said that the perfect buyer would be another explosives company, but those firms are few and far between. He said he could also envision an educational user.
“A trade school or an extension of a campus from CU or CSU or Mines or somebody like that … or even, quite honestly, if those growing communities out there needed a high school or something that I imagine could convert this thing,” Dwyer said.
Other candidates for purchase could be homebuilders. As the metro area continues to expand eastward, the land that the Orica campus sits on could be ripe for development, Dwyer said.
“The ideal buyer would be somebody looking for a campus setting where they could control a large parcel of land and then also have a freestanding corporate facility that does have a large office building that’s the majority of the square footage,” he said.