Former base for archive purpose only. Not active anymore
The Charles Melvin Price Support Center has changed greatly in recent years. Once a US Army Depot, it was reopened in 2000 to become an industrial and commercial property for the community near St. Louis called Granite City. However, it has a rich military history that goes back to 1942. At one time, the depot spanned 686 acres with millions of square feet dedicated to warehouse and storage space for customers. Today, there’s not much left of the original depot, but its history is still important to the formation of Granite City and the vibrant communities around it.
History of Charles M. Price Support Center
Even though Camp Price was selected to be a site of a huge Army supply installation for World War I, it didn’t see any action until 1942 when construction began to create the Granite City Engineer Depot. It was opened on August 1st, 1942. During World War II, the depot grew rapidly and saw more than 4,500 railroad cars travel through its gates. Employment at the depot swelled to 5,200 people by 1944. About 1,500 men received training in maintenance functions and engineer supply at Camp Price Support Center.
After World War II, a period of inactivity swept over the depot. Besides the brief Korean War, the depot rarely saw any action. Eventually it was renamed to the Granite City Army Depot in 1962 and transferred control from the Corps of Engineers to the US Army Material Command. However, nothing significantly changed about the depot’s missions until 1966. At this time, it took over support missions for the Greater St. Louis Area from a deactivated US Army Support Center.
More changes were made to the depot. In 1971, the depot part of the center closed. The functions and facilities joined the US Army Aviation Systems Command support. Thus, it became the Headquarters and Installation for Support Activity. It maintained employment for nearly 500 military personnel and civilians. In 1975, there was a demand for more customer service representatives, and thus it was again renamed to the St. Louis Area Support Center (SLASC).
In the late 1980s, Congressman Melvin Price was recognized for his support and contributions to America, and the once depot-turned-support-center became Charles Melvin Price Support Center. Over the years, the support center saw less and less activity, and with a need to save on military funding, the Price Support Center was recognized as excess.
At one time, the Charles M. Price Support Center provided logistical, administrative and recreational support to all branches of the US Armed Forces in the Greater St. Louis area. It maintained employment for 75 military and federal agencies. It also monitored satellite activity of the US Army Aviation and Missile Command, which had its headquarters in Huntsville, AL. About 600 active duty military personnel worked at the center.
Closure and Redevelopment of Charles M. Price Support Center
In 1995, the Charles M. Price Support Center was designated for closure by the US Army. However, the process drew on for how to close its doors as the economies of nearby Madison and St. Clair Counties depended in part on the depot along with activity from Scott Air Force Base. Due to local opposition, the support center remained open as the US Army decided how to close the area and also give back to the community. However, the US Army knew that the facility cost $14 million annually to operate. By 1997, the support center dwindled to just under 300 employees and was finally closed without the need of approval from Congress.
The US Army also worked with the local community including Congressman Jerry Costello of the 12th District; mayors of Granite City, Madison and Venice; Madison County Board Chairman; and other leaders from the surrounding areas to create a strategy to revelop the land once occupied by the Charles M. Price Support Center. The strategy focused on keeping the property together that would not be split up by federal agencies, thus allowing the area to be developed as one parcel under a single owner.
As such, Charles M. Price Support Center would become a mixed use facility that could support offices, warehouses, industrial buildings, residential neighborhoods, recreational purposes and other businesses. Both the Illinois Department of Commerce and Madison County provided $350,000 to fund the redevelopment of the old depot.
Costello was significant in leading the effort to redevelop the support center. He drafted, introduced and supported the passage of the “Tri-City Regional Port District Act” along with the help of the US Army. President Clinton signed the legislation into law in 2000 as part of the “National Defense Authorization Act of 2001.”
No funds were provided for the redevelopment as part of the act. There were some competitive federal and state grants. The new parcel would take on millions of dollars in maintenance, and yet it would not receive sales tax, motor fuels tax, property tax or any other revenues that were available to most other municipal corporations. However, renovation and reconstruction began immediately to create the new mixed used property, which had been transferred to what is now known as the Port.
Much of the redevelopment could not have been completed without the $1.6 million grant from the Economic Development Administration. These funds allowed much of the buildings to be renovated and repaired the 150 housing units that were on the property. Of course, military personnel had first dibs on renting any of the properties at the Port.
A 100-acre golf course was leased to St. Andrews Golf Club, which opened for business in 2002. YMCA also opened its doors at the Port in 2001. The expansion went on to include North Harbor as well. A plant was constructed and became the largest polymer-modified asphalt plant known as the Petroleum Fuel and Terminal site.
The Port has continued to expand and include several other industrial buildings. However, there is still a part of the support center that is owned and operated by the US Army Reserve though it only comprises 40 acres on the water side of the Mississippi River. This was retained to build a new harbor.
There were two new developments in the area to include Airgas Specialty Products and a helicopter hangar for ARCH Air Methods.