ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Crews broke ground on the $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Headquarters in north St. Louis Tuesday.

More than 100 buildings had to be torn down and dozens of people were kicked out of their homes for the 97-acre project at Jefferson and Cass. Leaders called the project one that will reshape North City.

"I think this is as big a win, win, win as you could possibly have," Senator Roy Blunt said.

The project will include a more than 700,000-square-foot office building with parking garages and a visiting center.

After construction is complete, the NGA will move from its current spot in South City to the new location, meaning 3,000 permanent jobs will be kept in St. Louis with an additional 1,500 construction jobs.

Read: North City residents worried new NGA building will force them out

Major construction work at the site is expected to begin in early 2020. The site is predicted to be fully operational in 2025.

"Our goal here is to transform the community around it, continue to bring resources to this area. So, we are in the early stages of that we hope by the time this facility is completed, that we will see a significant transformation here,” said Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation Otis Williams.

This will be the largest federal investment in St. Louis history.

“This $1.7 billion investment by the NGA will create thousands of good-paying jobs in St. Louis," Missouri U.S. Senator Josh Hawley said. "The geospatial intelligence professionals at NGA West help us understand the physical world in a way that enhances our national security and strengthens our response to threats at home and around the world. This work is of the utmost importance to our nation and will continue to happen right here in St. Louis for years to come.”

Several city and state leaders, including Mayor Lyda Krewson, Gov. Mike Parson and Rep. Lacy Clay were on hand for the groundbreaking. Even California Congressman Adam Schiff attended the groundbreaking and talked about working with Clay to choose the site. He said there was a battle between Missouri and Illinois to get the project.

"This of all the locations that NGA had narrowed it down to made the most sense to bring the most good, to really transform a community," Schiff said. "I was immediately taken with the whole idea and was proud to support [Clay's] efforts and Senator Blunt's."

There were also a handful of protesters, but Doris Stokes, who lives across the street from the facility, said she welcomes it with open arms. 

"I'm super ecstatic. Excited just to be living over here. Can't wait to see when they finish with it," Stokes said.  

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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