NGA favors St. Louis for new $1.7 billion headquarters
From the St. Louis Business Journal
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency(NGA) on Friday will announce that they favor a 100-acre site in north St. Louis for the agency’s new $1.7 billion western headquarters, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A final decision will be made by NGA Director Robert Cardillo in June after a comment period.
The choice is a major win for the city of St. Louis, which has made the effort to retain the federal spy agency — and its 3,100 jobs — its No. 1 economic development priority. After another billion-dollar project, the Mississippi riverfront stadium, fell through, the city was also desperate for a catalyst on the north side, which has been in economic distress for decades. The NGA will move from a facility in Soulard in 2021.
The city’s primary rival, St. Clair County in Illinois, had offered a 182-acre greenfield site adjacent to Scott Air Force Base, which employs 7,500 military service members and 5,000 civilians, making it the sixth largest employer in the region according to Business Journal research. Illinois officials had hoped to further solidify the base’s importance ahead of any additional Base Closure and Realignment Commissions.
In October, the NGA said in a draft environmental impact statement that moving the facility to north St. Louis would carry with it big benefits: “health and safety improvements, construction spending, induced employment, cleanup of existing hazardous contamination, land use improvements, and the reduction of weed species.”
The NGA, while chronicling problems with both sites, mentioned no “environmental benefits” of locating in Illinois.
Politicians from both states lobbied hard to win the facility, with St. Clair County in November offering free land. Then, earlier this month, Missouri officials said they would use more Brownfield Tax Credits to offer the north St. Louis land for free, foregoing what was expected to be a $14 million payment from the federal government.
The city has so far spent $9.2 million to acquire the land in its proposed site for the NGA project in the St. Louis Place Park neighborhood, which is bounded by Cass Avenue to the south, Jefferson Avenue and Parnell Street to the west, Montgomery Street to the north and North 22nd Street to the east. The city and state of Missouri are prepared to spend about $130 million on land acquisition and environmental cleanup there.