DENVER A one-time Cold War bastion in Denver took another big step in its transformation to a civilian neighborhood of homes, schools and shops Tuesday as the last military unit prepared to leave.
The Air Reserve Personnel Center is the last military holdover on the former Lowry Air Force Base, which once housed an early ballistic missile squadron, served as the summer White House for President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was the first home of the Air Force Academy.
This is the last piece, said Monte Force, an executive with the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the transition to an urban neighborhood.
The personnel center is moving to Buckley Air Force Base.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday for the new $17 million, 80,000-square-foot headquarters at Buckley.
The actual move will take place at the end of the month, and workers will report to the new building Aug. 1.
The 450 employees handle records for nearly 1 million Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard servicemen and women.
Lowry was opened in the late 1930s as a training base for Army Air Corps bomber crews and technical specialists. Over the next six decades, Lowrys role changed as the Air Corps was spun off from the Army to become the U.S. Air Force and the nation began deploying intercontinental ballistic missiles during the Cold War.
In the early 1950s, Eisenhower conducted White House business at Lowry while his wife, Mamie Doud Eisenhower, visited family in Denver, where she grew up.
The Air Force Academy, established in 1955, held classes and housed cadets at Lowry until 1958, when buildings on a 28-square-mile campus north of Colorado Springs were complete.
The Air Force activated a strategic missile squadron at Lowry in 1960 and began deploying Titan I ICBMs the next year in silos east of Denver, off the base. The Titans were removed by 1965 as the Air Force turned to more advanced missiles.
The Air Force closed Lowry in 1994 with and budget cuts. By then, the 3-square-mile base had Denver to the west and Aurora to the east. The two cities formed the Lowry Redevelopment Authority to oversee the transformation to civilian use.
The government donated some of the land for schools and parks and sold much of the rest to the redevelopment authority. The price was $32.5 million, to be repaid as the authority sold the land to developers. The Air Force eventually forgave $25 million of that when the cost of the conversion ran much higher than expected, said Jean Lindholm, the authoritys executive assistant.
Lowry now has about 9,500 residents in 4,500 homes, according to the authoritys website. It also has 140 businesses, 13 schools, a community college campus, the Wings Over the Rockies aviation museum, parks, a golf course and other amenities.