Economy & Innovation
4:02 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Department of Defense Mapping Agency Announces Six Possible Sites For New Facility

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has released the location of six sites under consideration for its new facility in the St. Louis region. 

The agency employs about 3,000 people at its current location at 3200 South 2nd St. and Arsenal Street in St. Louis.

The NGA provides geospatial intelligence in support of defense and national security.

The possible locations include:

• Fenton, at the site of the old Chrysler plant, along I-44, southwest of St. Louis
• Mehlville, at the MetLife facility, on Tesson Ferry Road between I-270 and Route 141, south of St. Louis
• NorthPark, near I-70 and Hanley Road and Lambert airport, north of St. Louis
• St. Louis, near the intersections of Cass and Jefferson avenues
• St. Clair County, along I-64, east of St. Louis in Illinois, adjacent to Scott Air Force Base
• Weldon Spring, along I-64 near Chesterfield, northwest of St. Louis

Only one of the above sites is within the city of St. Louis, in an area that includes the former Pruitt-Igoe federal housing project. Jeff Rainford, the St. Louis mayor’s chief of staff,  said the federal government has a stake in building there.

"It would be very elegant and very just if this generation of the federal government undid the injustice created many decades ago," Rainford said. 

Creating maps and models of military targets, such as this model of Osama bin Ladin's complex in Pakistan, is part of what the NGA does.
Creating maps and models of military targets, such as this model of Osama bin Ladin's complex in Pakistan, is part of what the NGA does.
Credit Natl GEOINT Agency

Pruitt-Igoe’s 33 high-rise apartment buildings were imploded and abandoned in the early to mid-1970s. Much of the now-forested area still includes the rubble from that time.

"We think, for a variety of reasons, if we’re close or a little better [than other sites] there are lots of reasons the federal government should choose this site," Rainford said. "There’s a White House executive order that says new federal facilities should go in central cities if at all possible."

The area is also within Paul McKee's Northside Regeneration project, but Rainford said if the NGA chooses the site, then the federal government plans to buy the ground and build on it.

"This is not Wal-Mart. So, they're not coming in looking for subsidies or seeing who has the biggest subsidies or that sort of thing," he said.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois is championing Scott Air Force Base for relocating the NGA. It's the only Metro East site among the finalists. The Democrat is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

"As one of our nation's leading defense installations, Scott Air Force Base would be a natural choice to house the work of this critically important agency," Durbin said in a statement.

The other possible sites include three within St. Louis County, including the former Chrysler plant in Fenton; the former MetLife facility in Mehlville; and NorthPark, near Lambert International Airport. The Weldon Spring location is in St. Charles County.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will put out a call for additional property submissions within 30 days. After that, the agency will make a final decision on which sites will undergo the comprehensive assessment required by the National Environmental Policy Act, which would take 18-24 months to complete.

The NGA expects to move into the new facility in 2021.

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