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ST. LOUIS – There’s significant progress to report from St. Louis’s largest building site: the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) West headquarters. The project is heralded as the rebirth of north St. Louis.

For the first year and a half, we’d only seen 97 acres of dirt, fenced off for grading and site prep. Now, the $1.7 billion project is starting to look like something at Jefferson and Cass, north of Downtown St. Louis.

“It’s happening,” said Jeff Boyer, vice president of McCarthy HITT, lead contractor for the project.

A FOX 2 camera caught new views from a tower on site. They include a first glimpse of the site’s highest point: the roof of the 700,000 square-foot headquarters building where more than 3,000 people for the secretive government agency will be going to work. A large parking garage is also starting to rise.

The number of construction workers has grown to 450. That will nearly triple by early-to-mid 2022 when interior work can begin.

When complete in 2024, about 6,000 tons of steel will have gone into the new NGA West, that’s more than 80% of what went into the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

It will be a vast improvement over the current headquarters in converted warehouses near the Mississippi River in south St. Louis.

“It’ll be newer and brighter. We’ll have windows. Just the little things, but I think everyone is looking forward to the mission benefits,” said Sue Pollmann, NGV West Executive. “Many of us are lifelong St. Louisans. So for us, this is kind of an added bonus to know that what we’re doing will not only help NGA, help our future, help our people who work in our space, but that it potentially will have such great benefit over here on the north side.”

There was still a long way to go, Boyer said.

“I would say what you’re seeing is about half the footprint of the total (headquarters) building,” he said. “We’re going upwards on half of it and then we’ll come back do the part here to the south, but I’d say (you’re only seeing) about half of it.”

NGA workers won’t move in until 2025. It will take about a year prior to that to transfer all of the intelligence and information from the old site to the new one, according to Pollman.

NGA gathers data from tracking and mapping “everything that happens on the face of the Earth,” according to the NGA motto. That information is used for everything from U.S. military applications to worldwide disaster relief.