Tesla pulls building permit for $5.2 million sales, service and delivery center in Gypsum

Electric car company hopes to break ground for its new center in May

A new $5.2 million Tesla sales, service and distribution center will rise from vacant ground south of the Eagle County Regional Airport this spring. The company pulled its Gypsum building permit last Friday.
Sean Naylor/Vail Daily

Tesla, the renowned electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Austin, Texas, is coming to Gypsum.

Late last Friday, the company submitted plans for a new $5.2 million, 35,349-square-foot sales, service and delivery center to be located at 550 Plane St. in Gypsum. The parcel is located directly south of the Eagle County Regional Airport and is part of the Rocky Mountain Commerce Park, a 28-acre development project of Fortius Capital.

Tesla hopes to break ground for its new center by May 1 of this year. Gypsum officials anticipate a nine- to 12-month construction period before the center is open for business.

“This will create a cascading effect of economic development,” noted Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann. “It’s going to be a big deal.”

Rietmann said the new Tesla center will employ roughly 40 people. As a sales tax generator, the operation’s impact will be limited because only residents of Gypsum will pay sales tax on vehicle purchases at the site. Other purchasers will pay use tax where they register their vehicles.

“The larger impact will be the traffic flow that is aggregated around a use like this,” said Rietmann. “If you are already coming to Costco from Steamboat or Summit County, now you can get your car serviced or take a look at a Tesla in person while you are here.”

How the deal was done

Rietmann said Gypsum’s Tesla story is a deal that was decades in the making. It began when Gypsum annexed the Eagle County Regional Airport and its surrounding land.

“Mayor Steve Carver and the Gypsum Town Council deserve credit for their forward-thinking leadership over the past couple of decades. Their work has put the town in a position to get lucky with big economic development opportunities such as this,” Rietmann said. “They had the vision to set aside significant parcels of land for light industrial and commercial development in the Spring Creek area that no one knew for sure, at the time, would ever come.”

Gypsum did play the long game in its strategy. Many parcels around the airport have been vacant for years, while several contractor storage yards, RV storage spaces and self-storage units have sprouted around the area.

“Those sites are in high demand and provide a lot of economic value for the owners of the property,” Rietmann said. “But they don’t necessarily create a lot of value for the community at large in terms of things like jobs.”

Fortius Capital — founded by Wolcott native Mike Person — had a different vision for its Rocky Mountain Commerce Park plan.

“When the Rocky Mountain Commerce Park was approved by the town, this developer said they were well placed for a hub. They said it was a good location for doing lots more commerce and higher value economic uses,” Rietmann said. “Their original proposal to the town was that they would set aside one or two of these lots for high-value economic opportunities. They certainly delivered.”

“They were determined that they wanted to see this parcel be more,” Rietmann continued. “It took a lot of guts on their part to do that. They had to say no to a lot of offers for this land.”

Destination shopping

Fortius Director of Development Patrick Scanlan noted the company is better known locally as a residential developer. Fortius has built more than 300 units in the Gypsum/Dotsero area.

“Up to this point, we have given locals a place to live, and with this industrial park, we can give locals a place to work and also give local companies a way to really flourish,” Scanlan said.

After the town approved its 28-acre commerce park, Scanlan reached out to an acquaintance — Jon Hardy of Denver-based Game Creek Holdings — who was exploring options for a Tesla location in the Roaring Fork Valley. Scanlan pitched the idea that Eagle County was a better locale — more accessible to a wider geographic area.

“Costco is already a destination,” Scanlan said. “We kept in touch with Jon and told him why Rocky Mountain Commerce Park would be the perfect place.”

As they worked the deal, the Fortius team also worked hard to keep their efforts as quiet as possible. “Tesla is a pretty close-to-the-vest company, so we really kept it close to the vest, too,” Scanlan said.

“The town of Gypsum has been a great partner to work with on this,” Scanlan added. “It was our commitment to the town of Gypsum not to bring in more storage condos. Our goal was to give Gypsum an employment hub.”

Investments pay off

Rietmann believes enhanced infrastructure is making Gypsum a more attractive development option.

“The town has spent the last several years working with a variety of business partners to improve Gypsum’s telecommunications infrastructure and support local economic development and jobs for our residents,'” Rietmann said.

Comcast is set to complete its Gypsum fiber network project by the end of 2022. Visionary Broadband operates a wireless broadband network that can now serve the majority of the community. Verizon and AT&T have made significant upgrades to cell services in Gypsum in the last three years.

“These projects have helped create competition for internet and other telecom services that didn’t exist just a few short years ago,” Rietmann said.

Additionally, Rietmann noted the old adage is true — success breeds success.

“Gypsum now hosts several major brand names that create a regional customer draw to Gypsum that didn’t exist before, including Costco, Ace Hardware and soon Tesla,” Rietmann said. “These businesses draw regional customer traffic that also benefits our local restaurants, mom-and-pop retailers and other businesses by increasing the daytime population of Gypsum.”

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