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Minnesota National Guard breaks ground on new $40 million 'Red Bulls' headquarters

ARDEN HILLS, Minn.—A full fifth of the National Guard's military construction budget was allocated to Minnesota this year — to pay for a new "Red Bulls" headquarters building in Arden Hills.

The 34th Infantry Division's move from its current 100,000-square-foot building in Rosemount to a soon-to-be-built 136,000 square-foot building in Arden Hills should happen in two years, officials said.

"I look forward to digging some dirt," said Brig. Gen. Lowell Kruse at a groundbreaking Monday, Oct. 15. "I know the mayor of Rosemount's probably sad."

"Yeah, well, the mayor of Arden Hills is pretty happy," chuckled Arden Hills Mayor David Grant as he headed toward a large swath of wetland at his city's Army Training Site to pick up a shovel.

The price tag for the new facility: $40 million, with most coming from the federal government.

The state is kicking in $300,000 via its state armory building commission, which allocates funds outside the usual legislative budget process.

Minneapolis-based Stahl Construction is the primary developer for the project, which should be completed by August 2020, company officials said.

34th Infantry officials say the Red Bulls' building in Rosemount is already inadequate, with only 500 of its 800-member headquarters battalion able to be staffed there, and no space for expansion.

The new building will accommodate the full 800, and include new security upgrades that will allow the building to handle both secret and top secret data; upgrades that require both digital advancements as well as physical clean rooms that allow for oversight and segregation of staff.

Col. Sol Sukut, the division's construction and facilities management officer, noted the Rosemount building was just 24 years old — relatively young for replacement. But he said the need for space necessitated the switch.

The Guard's new readiness facility in Stillwater, for example, was built to replace a 100-year-old structure.

"That's kind of the norm," Sukut said.

The Rosemount facility will still be used by the Guard as a readiness facility, Sukut noted.

The new building, with two stories as well as a full-sized basement, will be built on property already owned and managed by the Guard, just east of their existing readiness center.

The building will also include an honorary library named for one of the Guard's most renowned members — the late Gen. John William Vessey Jr.

Vessey joined the Guard at the age of 16 in 1939, received a battlefield commission in World War II, and eventually worked his way from a private to a four-star general. He was appointed the 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Ronald Reagan, retired in 1985, and passed away in 2016.

"I know that my father would be extremely honored," said Vessey's daughter, Sarah Vessey, who added that she would be donating the late general's collection of military books, notes, letters, and other memorabilia to the library.

The Red Bull's headquarters battalion is currently in Texas training for another deployment to Kuwait, which is slated to last nine months. They were last deployed in 2010.

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