The Year in Brief: St. Louis pushes to keep federal agency, makes deal with McKee

In brief

St. Louis’ effort to land a new $1.6 billion facility for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency inside the city limits led local officials on a long and winding road in 2015. The NGA, a federal agency that currently has a major location near the Anheuser-Busch brewery in south St. Louis, will make its new home at one of four sites in the greater St. Louis area: Fenton, Mehlville or north St. Louis on the Missouri side, or St. Clair County in Illinois.

In order for St. Louis to make a bid for the NGA facility, the city must be the lone owner of the land within its proposed, 100-acre site. Forty percent of that land was owned by developer Paul McKee and associated businesses for the Northside Regeneration project.

The Year in Brief offers a look at Missouri’s most important business stories of 2015 and previews how those stories could play out in 2016 and beyond. 

The city made multiple efforts and spent millions of dollars to assemble the land. In October, an aldermanic committee authorized eminent domain proceedings against McKee and other property owners who had held out in selling the land.

McKee, whose business has been plagued by financial problems, asked for more than he paid the city and others for the 339 properties within the site. After several failed negotiations, the city purchased $5 million worth of land on the site, which was taken from McKee through foreclosure, to gain leverage in the negotiation. In December, the city reached a deal with McKee for his property.

As the year ended, the city filed an eminent domain petition naming other individuals who had yet to give up their land in the area.

In the future

In July, the City of St. Louis raised a $20 million loan, about $13 million of which would be used to acquire the 100 acres. An analysis by the the St. Louis Development Corp. (SLDC) says the NGA effort could ultimately cost the city and state up to $130 million for land acquisition and cleanup.

The NGA is expected to decide in April where to locate its new facility. According to the SLDC, if the agency chooses the north St. Louis site, the city would retain 3,100 NGA jobs, which could stand to gain more than $86 million. If the NGA eventually employs 5,000 people at the new facility, that would bring the city nearly $140 million of revenue.

The SLDC’s analysis also points out that if the NGA locates elsewhere, the city would lose $2 million in annual earnings tax revenue.

In a graphic

The NGA choose between four locations for its new home in the St. Louis area. The northside site is the only one located within St. Louis’ city limits.



In a tweet

On the eve of 2016, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay voiced his commitment to keeping the agency in the city in 2016:

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