Potential Buyer for Lockheed Campus in the Wings

The potential buyer remains anonymous, but officials from the City of Eagan say that the interest in the property is a good sign for the community.

Lockheed Martin Corporation on Thursday confirmed that it is in talks with a potential buyer for its 50-acre campus in Eagan.

“Lockheed Martin is in negotiations and it is possible that a contract could be signed in the near future,” the company wrote in an e-mailed statement. “The potential buyer has asked to remain anonymous and Lockheed Martin intends to honor that request. If a contract is signed, the facility closure will continue as planned to phase out operations over a two-year period while Lockheed Martin would lease back the facility.”

Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed in November announced plans to shutter its Eagan facility by 2013-a move that will affect about 1,000 jobs.

In January, Lockheed informed its Eagan employees of their fate: Roughly 250 were told that their jobs will be eliminated, while about 750 positions will be relocated during the next two years.

Lockheed spokeswoman Peggy Mullikin told Twin Cities Business at the time that the company intended to sell the campus but said that it was too early to provide details.

The primary structure on the campus-which is located at the busy corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road-is a 623,000-square-foot building. The offices were recently renovated, and the building now has about 350,000 square feet of Class A office space, Mullikin said on Thursday.

The company declined to share details about the interested buyer, and officials from the City of Eagan are unaware of who might acquire the property.

City Administrator Tom Hedges said in a Thursday phone interview that the city isn't privy to any information about who is bidding on the property, although its officials too are anxious to find out.

“We have to honor Lockheed's process,” he said. “We know they're working with brokers and possible suitors.”

He said that news of Lockheed's plans to close its Eagan facility dealt a significant blow to the community.

“We care greatly for the Lockheed property. We were saddened to learn that Lockheed made a corporate decision to relocate from Eagan,” he said. “We're concerned not only about Lockheed employees' jobs, but also the impact on other local jobs.”

But Hedges interprets Lockheed's negotiations with a potential buyer as a positive sign for the community: “The notion that there are possible interested buyers is exciting for Eagan. We're glad to see that level of momentum.”

Lockheed said that in January it invited commercial real estate brokers to pitch marketing ideas for the site, but the company “decided to pursue sale of the property independently.”

Some local companies, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Ecolab, Inc., denied rumors that they were bidders when contacted by the Star Tribune.

Independently of Lockheed's attempt to sell its property, the City of Eagan is pursuing an initiative to bolster economic development in the area. According to Communications Director Tom Garrison, the city in January released a request for proposals in an attempt to eventually create a specialized type of data center in Eagan, called a “co-location” facility.

Garrison, who acts as a liaison between the city and a group that represents IT workers from local corporations, said that the city hopes to attract businesses to the area by facilitating the development of a “carrier-neutral” center where telecom providers could “co-house” server space or other services. According to Garrison-who has worked with business leaders across the state in an initiative to expand broadband access-the facility would bring together multiple carriers, allowing businesses to access various services at a lower cost and reduced risk.