St. Louis’ Legendary Club Imperial Went Up For Sale This Week — Nobody Bought It

Though it would surely be the most obvious spot for a St. Louis music history museum, the old broken-down Club Imperial is still sitting unclaimed after being put up for auction yesterday in the city’s Land Tax sale.

The club was a nightlife hotspot, serving as something of a home base for St. Louis music in the 1950s and beyond. Local royalty, including Chuck Berry and Ike and Tina Turner, blessed those walls — walls that are now sit among debris and various disasters. The club is in such a state of disrepair that it’s hard to tell what’s worse, the ice in the basement or the piles of toxic garbage.

When the investor who purchased the property sought to demolish it, many people in town expressed outrage. Yet potential buyers apparently decided to take a pass; the property sat unclaimed all day yesterday at what was otherwise a hot tax sale. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jacob Barker reported that the standing-room-only sale “drew a crowd of 200-plus people.” None bid on Club Imperial.

So what happens next? The club seems destined to become the property of the city's Land Reutilization Authority, or LRA. The so-called "owner of last resort" serves as a land bank for properties in St. Louis that no one else wants. As of last year, it owned approximately 11,800 parcels.

Got an idea to return Club Imperial to its former glory? Now you don't need to win at auction — or even necessarily cough up $82,278, the asking price at yesterday's tax sale. You just need to make the LRA a good offer, and it could be yours.

(That said, would-be renovators should beware of the rap on the LRA: Just because land is sitting in a vast database doesn't mean they're giving it away. You may have to jump through some hoops.)

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About The Author

Jaime Lees

Jaime Lees is the digital content editor for the Riverfront Times.
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