South St. Louis Southampton Theaters

Change in Alderpersons Will Impact the Avalon Theater

by Michael R. Allen

The recent resignation of Alderman Stephen Gregali (D-14th) could have an impact on the future of the Avalon Theater at 4225 S. Kingshighway in Southampton. The languishing Art Deco neighborhood movie house, built in 1937 and designed by A.F. and Arthur Stauder, faces an uncertain fate. The owner is a defunct corporation, the Sopo Corporation, although for years Greg Tsevis — son of the deceased Sopo Corporation owners — asserted ownership rights. The last film screening at the Avalon was in 1999, and in subsequent years damage to the roof and terra cotta on the north parapet has occurred. Alderman Gregali and the city’s counselor’s office pushed forward a suit in 2009 that sought to name the City of St. Louis as successor trustee for the Sopo Corporation and give the city power to dispose of the property.  (The judge named an individual as successor.)

On April 20, 2010, Judge Robert Dierker, Jr. entered an order in the case that the parties were willing to settle for a quit-claim deed of the Avalon to the city. However, the deed was not filed by a July 12 deadline. Judge Dierker has set a hearing in the case for August 30th.

If the settlement can be reaches, or if the case results in the city’s being names successor trustee, the future of the Avalon rests with city government. And that means that Gregali’s successor, who will be elected this November in a special election, will have substantial power to determine the fate of one of our city’s few remaining Depression-era neighborhood movie houses.

7 replies on “Change in Alderpersons Will Impact the Avalon Theater”

With the departure of Mississippi Nights, the Rocket Bar, the Hi-Pointe and Frederick’s Music Lounge over the last several years, the Avalon seems like a perfect candidate to fill the void for a medium-sized live music venue, don’tcha think?

I have a feeling the neighborhood would oppose it. Cutting edge music venues are never in sleepy, middle class neighborhoods; they’re in abandoned warehouses down by the river, or in old factory buildings tucked away in “up and coming” neighborhoods.

I live in the “sleepy, middle class neighborhood” and disagree, The South Hampton neighborhood was number one last year in young home buyers, These residents supports the diverse Macklind ave. business district with locally owned “up and coming” businesses. The South Kingshighway corridor is ripe for development, and with a waiting population eager for something that’s not a beauty supply store or check cashing shop a neighborhood movie theatre or concert venue would be welcome. It could be the corner stone for developing the area. My hopes are that we get an alderman who has the gusto to make that happen.

^Simply because white people don’t use the same beauty supply shops as African Americans doesn’t mean they are a blight on the neighborhood. I guess a Beauty Brands would be more attractive?

I wouldn’t really call South or North Hampton “sleepy.” Of course it’s not as dense as Tower Grove South, but there are a fair amount of bars open at night during the week. Quite a few of them have live music, too.

Mr. Duckworth, I didn’t say boo about beauty supply shops for African Amercians….My remarks were on the redundancy of them. There are three within two blocks of each other. My point is that we need something different, more diverse to attract people and encourage them to spend their dollars.

Not to mention the check-cashing, or “payday loan” business is a predatory monster feeding on the lack of choices for those who may only be able to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Legally (?!!!) usurious rates, and whatnot. Not a desirable neighbor. Well, neither is another drugstore at a major intersection.

The City will not become the trustee or owner of the property. Judge Dierker has already appointed a trustee and the City is waiting for him to transfer or do something with the property.

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