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St. Louis picks new site for maintenance garage, could mean 200 more jobs

The Ways and Means committee has approved the purchase of a site in the Botanical Heights neighborhood to house and maintain trash trucks.
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St. Louis has picked a place to store and maintain its fleet of trash trucks, setting in motion a process that could lead to 200 new jobs in the city.

The Board of Aldermen on Wednesday authorized the city to spend about $12 million to purchase a site on Central Industrial Drive, between two railroad tracks in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, and to pay for the necessary build-out.

The purchase will enable the city to move from the north refuse site on Hall Street, which figures into Procter and Gamble's plans to expand its St. Louis factory. The Cincinnati-based company purchased the land last year, and the city has to be off the property by the end of 2016 or pay penalties.

"[Procter and Gamble] has assured us that the St. Louis plant is in competition because that is a highly efficient plant that they have put a lot of money into upgrading the production lines," said Jim Garavaglia, an asset manager with the comptroller's office. "I think they have a role for that facility. They haven’t shared it with us yet, but probably in January of '17, they’ll be at [the St. Louis Development Corporation's] doorstep with a package to increase production and jobs."

The new location will house the city's fleet of trash trucks and maintain them on site. In addition, the city will again take over maintenance of the St. Louis Fire Department vehicles, a job currently handled by the transit agency Metro at its garage. Eventually, said operations director Todd Waelterman, it could be a central location for all of the city's vehicle fleet needs. 

"As we get investors buying up other property, they could actually move" to the new site, he said. "It's trying to build something that we can build on."

The city will borrow about $13 million over 10 years to cover the costs of the new maintenance facility and $1.5 million in repairs to the municipal garage at Clark and Tucker streets. Those funds were originally part of a bond issue that will be on the April ballot, but were redirected to the recreation centers. Here's how the costs will be covered:

  • $450,000 a year from rent payments by tenants who currently lease space in the properties being purchased.
  • $500,000 from the city's refuse department that originally went to a lease/purchase program for trash trucks that expires in June.
  • $500,000 in operational savings, including from bringing maintenance for the fire trucks back in house.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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