This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS – The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency calls it a mockup structure. It’s also a sign of progress on the $1.7 billion Next NGA West project near Jefferson and Cass avenues.

“You get a picture of what the surface of the building will actually look like,” said Susan Pollmann, Next NGA West program director.

She said construction crews can use the mockup structure to test the fit of windows, doors, and panels and even determine how watertight the facility is.

Pollmann said other progress on the nearly 100-acre site includes foundations on the main operations building being nearly completed and construction on a parking garage.

The facility is scheduled to open in 2025. Workers will move to the site from their current locations. Construction is expected to continue for the next two years. Computers and other technology will be installed in 2024.

“Enthusiasm has really built, making St. Louis a center for geospatial excellence,” Pollman said. “We’re excited about the possibilities that that brings here to this northside area.”

The progress is also exciting news for Nelson Harvey, executive director of the St. Louis Black Tourism Association.

“For this part of St. Louis, that entire project is a turning point in this city,” he said.

Harvey is hopeful the project will bring economic benefits to nearby neighborhoods.

Rhea Willis was visiting near the site on Monday. She’s hopeful there will be economic benefits and hopes a long-term goal will be to develop a diverse workforce. The site is expected to be home to an estimated 3,000 workers.

“I want to make sure that when these jobs are coming over here, they are very diverse because our population here (north St. Louis) is mostly African-American,” she said.

The project includes partnerships with educational institutions such as nearby Harris-Stowe State University.

“We’re working with them on teacher development to help develop the students that we will need for our future employees, said Pollmann.

Pollmann said the project is running on time and within budget.