NGA Director recommends North St. Louis for new location

National Geospatial Intelligence AgencyThe National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency director has recommended the North St. Louis site for the federal spy agency. The 99-acre site sits in the northern portion of the city at the intersection of North Jefferson and Cass Avenues.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will publish the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) April 1 for the Next NGA West project in the St. Louis area. The FEIS analyzed four sites and the environmental effects related to the construction and operation of a new, purpose-built campus for the agency.

Selecting the agency’s preferred alternative (APA) is part of the National Environmental Policy Act process, and is not the final decision. A comment period begins April 1 and ends April 16 to allow for additional public input before the signing of the final Record of Decision, which will occur no sooner than 30 days from the release of the FEIS. The Record of Decision is expected to be complete by early June 2016.

“After careful consideration of all of the available information, I have determined that the St. Louis City site is the agency’s preferred alternative,” said Robert Cardillo, NGA director, in a press release Thursday.

Identifying the APA included reviewing the final environmental analysis findings and a careful evaluation of each site using mission, security, laws/regulations/Executive Orders, cost and schedule criteria.

“The St. Louis City site provides NGA with the most technological, academic and professional environment for this agency to develop the capabilities and solutions necessary to solve the hardest intelligence and national security problems entrusted to us by the American people,” said Cardillo.

St. Louis recently changed their proposal, offering up the land that used to be home to the Pruitt-Igoe housing facility at no cost.

St. Clair County has made a major effort to attract the facility and its 3,000 employees to a site near Scott Air Force Base, offering up 400 acres of land directly near the Base at no cost. Additionally, Illinois officials offered up $115 million in infrastructure improvements around the St. Clair County site. The area is currently undeveloped farmland near the base.

“While we are disappointed, the effort isn’t totally over. We now have to review the Final EIS that resulted in this decision. And the new comment period starts tomorrow. I urge our supporters to submit comments at the website once the Final EIS is posted. The final decision by the NGA Director then comes after the comment period,” said St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern.

Four locations had been considered: North St. Louis City, Fenton, Mehlville, and St. Clair County.

The NGA site selection process began in 2012 when the agency announced plans to move from its current location at 3200 South 2nd Street and Arsenal Street. A series of planning studies, including an economic analysis, determined it would be less costly, quicker and less disruptive, to build a new facility rather than upgrade current facilities.

The new facility is expected to cost nearly $1.75 billion to build, with construction set to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2021.