Monday, July 20, 2009

Avalon Theater For Sale: Asking Price $1,000,000

News of the long-vacant Avalon Theater on South Kingshighway being offered for sale is appearing in people's electronic in-boxes today. However, at an asking price of $1,000,000, some are wondering if the property will draw much interest, especially during this economic slowdown.

The effort to market the building does provide the opportunity to think about the challenges faced by the owners of vacant buildings, and what should be done to ensure their long term viability and reuse potential.

Too often, preservationists and urbanists learn of a building's fate after a permit for demolition has been issued. By that time, it is often years' past any serious thought went into how to reuse a building.

One reason for the significant amount of demolition in St. Louis has been the decline in population. A city of 350,000 does not need the built housing stock of a city that once housed over 800,000 residents. The vacant land we see today is evidence of this transition.

It is not unusual to see a neighborhood's vacant commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings last longer than the vacant residential ones, if only because they are perceived to have higher values by their owners than smaller residential properties. Still, without a viable use and operating income, they are caught in a cycle of decline.

If a goal of urbanists and preservationists is to see fewer buildings of architectural and historic significance demolished, what steps should we pursue to make that happen?


Courtney Chesley said...

I drive by this building daily, and have been hoping someone would rescue it. It seems in pretty terrible shape- but I hope someone can and will bring it back to life.

Unknown said...

I spent countless Saturdays at the Avalon watching movies with my friends. I was heart broken when it closed. 1 million seems a bit steep considering the neighborhood and how rundown it must be inside after being abandoned for years. I hope it gets snatched up - I'd love to see the return of the neighborhood theater!

Rick Bonasch said...

Responses from the Southampton listserve include:

"Make it a South City visitor center/local theater"

"Make it a Red Lobster or Pizza Hut"

"Tear it down"

"Tear it down and build a Trader Joe's"

"A concert venue"

"I think the tivoli survives because it's on Delmar. We can't compete with that. I do know the Hi-Point is struggling. I don't know if small movie houses are surviving. I do know if another chain moves in I'm going to be sick. I might as well live in the burbs."

LisaS said...

I went to a really cool old theater in Dallas that had removed all the seats, terraced the sloping floor, put in tables and served pizza & beer during (18th run) movies. I always daydreamed about doing that with the Avalon.

Anonymous said...

$1,000,000.00 That guy is just crazy. He has been holding onto this property letting the building fall apart. This is a building that has to be torn down on a lot in South City. So not only come up with 1 mil but also the cost to tear the building down and build a new building. This is a case where the city should use eminent domain and put a governmnet function there. 1 million. That guy needs to have a V8.

Doug Duckworth said...

I would be ideal for a concert venue. A single theater won't work. If the parking lot to the South could be acquired, then a few theater screens could be added. Possibly then it could be cost effective. People could park across the street or in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

STL Cinemas, that local theater chain that transformed the Moolah into the 'greatest theater in St. Louis' according to the RFT, should buy the Avalon and convert it into a neighborhood landmark.

Lisa said...

Does anyone know who to contact for purcase?

Rick Bonasch said...

Here's the info:

For Sale by Realty Exchange

Fenian said...

Anon @ 11:16-

STL Cinemas is owned by the brother of the former operator of the Avalon. Don't know if it is relevant, but I thought I would share that.