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1,000 federal jobs will boost Downtown activity, energy

CITY HALL – A deal with the federal government will enable about 1,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture workers to stay within St. Louis, city officials announced this week.

The workers will move from the 79-year-old Goodfellow Federal Center in the Mark Twain I-70 Industrial neighborhood to One Metropolitan Square at 211 N. Broadway downtown.

The U.S. Department of Defense built the 23-building, 62.5-acre Goodfellow Federal Center in 1941. The Army gave it to the GSA in 1966. That federal agency converted it to a suburban office park.

The local bureaus of federal agencies that are relocating from the Goodfellow center include the USDA’s Rural Housing Service. That agency works on improving or building important community buildings in rural areas. 

The Metropolitan Square building’s owner, 601 Metropolitan Square LLC, signed a 20-year lease with the federal General Services Administration for 163,604 square feet. The total value is $72 million. The GSA acquires space for federal agencies. 

Mayor Lyda Krewson said it was a great day for the city. 

“Downtown has 75,000 jobs, and this additional 1,000 jobs will make a big difference to restaurants, to parking revenues, to the activity and the energy that’s on the streets of downtown, which is so very important,” Krewson said.

Otis William, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corp., said that keeping the jobs in the city represented a great win for the city.

“We are very fortunate to be able to work with them as they continue to have a presence,” Williams said.

The GSA is talking to the city about converting the Goodfellow Federal Center to another use, Williams said. 

“The St. Louis Development Corp. is extremely grateful for this opportunity to continue the relationship with the USDA,” Williams said in a statement. “They have been a terrific partner over the years, and their decision to relocate downtown rather than move out of the city and St. Louis speaks volumes. This builds upon our goal of retaining major businesses and government agencies in the city of St. Louis.”

Williams said he didn’t know the exact date for the start of the lease, but he said it should be in the next fiscal year. The exact number of jobs relocating isn’t certain, he said.

“There are a number of supporting organizations that will work with them, and we aren’t sure of all of those supporting organizations.”

The federal government did not receive incentives for moving downtown, Williams said.

Those who have worked in the effort include downtown businesses; U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis; and Missouri Sens. Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt, both Republicans. 

“No one should have to choose between serving their country or sacrificing their health,” Clay said in a statement.

“Since I became aware of the obvious unabated environmental hazards at this site and the terrible healthcare toll this has inflicted on so many federal employees, my goal was to first get these dedicated workers out of harm’s way, and then if possible, retain these good federal jobs for St. Louis.”

“Today’s announcement by the GSA achieves both of these goals,” Clay said.

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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