New Fitzsimons redevelopment president says growing site looks a lot like Mayo


AURORA | The fledgling health-care industry growing on the former Fitzsimons Army Base is similar to the way the world-renowned Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic looked about two decades ago, the new president of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority said Aug. 6.

Campus Construction

Construction continues on campus Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 7 at Anschutz Medical Campus. Steve VanNurden, formerly the chairman of Mayo Clinic Ventures, sees great potential for the University of Colorado Hospital and the surrounding area, including the research that he is overseeing as the president of the FRA. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Campus Construction

Construction continues on campus last month at Anschutz Medical Campus. State officials say the state's economy is improving slowly, including construction. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Campus Construction

Construction continues on campus Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 7 at Anschutz Medical Campus. Steve VanNurden, formerly the chairman of Mayo Clinic Ventures, sees great potential for the University of Colorado Hospital and the surrounding area, including the research that he is overseeing as the president of the FRA. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Campus Construction

Construction continues on campus Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 7 at Anschutz Medical Campus. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Steve VanNurden, formerly the chairman of Mayo Clinic Ventures, the invention arm of the hospital, told Aurora City Council members at a regularly scheduled meeting that when he first started his job in 1990, there were still construction cranes on the site, much like the ones at Anschutz Medical Campus now.

Back then, Mayo Clinic had about 31,000 employees. VanNurden said he saw the campus grow to 58,000 employees when he left to take the Fitzsimons post.

About 19,000 people are currently employed on the former Fitzsimons Army Base, he said.

“When I drive onto that campus every day I get the sense of where I saw Mayo Clinic several years ago,” VanNurden said.

He sees great potential for the University of Colorado Hospital and the surrounding area, including the research that he is overseeing as the president of the FRA.

“I think we have tremendous opportunity,” he said.

VanNurden, who has only been president of the FRA for about two months, told council members at the meeting about his professional background and the status of business at the FRA.

The new wing at the Bioscience Park Center will soon be home to four companies — Mitomics, Touch of Life Technologies, LightLabs and Greffex.

Mitomics is a prostate cancer diagnostic company, Greffex is researching ways to make the process of transplanting an organ easier, LightLabs sells medical and scientific supplies, and Touch of Life Technologies creates interactive software for classrooms and labs.

VanNurden said he was thrilled when the design build contract for the Interstate 225 FasTracks light rail project was finally approved by Regional Transportation District board members last month.

“That will dramatically change that campus,” he said.

The future light rail construction will impact four holes on the Fitzsimons Golf Course, though, he said.

“There will need to be discussions going forward on the fate of that golf course,” said VanNurden, who also noted that he’s an avid golfer.

Councilwoman Melissa Miller said she hopes the golf course will remain open even after the light rail is built out.

“There’s an incredible lack of open space in Aurora so if there’s any way to keep a portion of the golf course, I’d like to take a look at that,” she said.

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