City of St. Louis in running for Space Command headquarters, and its 1,400 new jobs

THE AIR FORCE Space Command is presently based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. – Colorado Springs Gazette photo

The city of St. Louis has bid for the U.S. Space Command’s new headquarters and its 1,400 jobs, and has advanced past an initial round of competitors, a top official said recently.

Otis Williams, executive director of the city’s development agency, St. Louis Development Corp., said the city applied a couple months ago for the large military development, planned by the Air Force.

A win for the city on this project could eclipse its 2016 victory in a competition for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new western headquarters, Williams said. That’s because the city already housed the NGA in an aging facility near Soulard, while the Space Command jobs would be new; its provisional headquarters are currently in Colorado Springs, Colo. President Trump re-established the command last year.

“It would be significant,” Williams said. “The average salary is over $100,000 annually. It’s a bigger win in the sense that it’s additional as opposed to retaining.”

The service branch recently told the city it has advanced to another round; Williams said it has until the end of August to submit information about possible sites, capacity and security. Williams expects the Air Force to pick finalists in November; the Air Force has said it will likely select a location in early 2021, but that it will take up to six years to build new facilities.

Williams declined to name local locations because the city is negotiating with landowners and possible developers. He said seven or eight sites are being considered.

The development, he said, would total about 460,000 square feet of office space and 400,000 square feet of parking.

Williams said that, as was the case with NGA, the city would likely have to give the federal government land for free. He said Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a letter supporting St. Louis’ bid, but also bids from Kansas City and St. Joseph, on the other side of the state.

This competition could be different from NGA. The Obama administration was still in power when bidding was underway. The city’s urban-focused proposal, centered on placing the spy agency’s Western headquarters in north city, was seen by many as a positive over its chief rival, St. Clair County, Ill. The city’s bid won in 2016 and the $1.7 billion facility broke ground in north city last November.

The city’s good fortune under the Democratic Obama era so far hasn’t continued under the Republican Trump administration.

Though the city has made it past an initial round of competition, Williams said he did not know details of how many bidders remained.

Bids have been submitted from 27 states, Williams said, including the potentially cost-saving option of leaving it at Colorado Springs’ Peterson Air Force Base.

In Illinois, St. Clair County is targeting a site next to Scott Air Force Base, the same area that area officials wanted to place the NGA headquarters.

(Edited and reprinted from the St. Louis Business Journal.)



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