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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dilapidated Avalon Cinema: Yours for Just $1 Million

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Maybe it's just another symptom of the sagging economy, but it seems like $1 million just doesn't go as far as it used to. Sure, you can still buy a Bentley or a condo on Washington Ave with that kind of dough, but if you're a millionaire in the market for a historic St. Louis movie theater, there just isn't a whole lot of bang for your buck available these days.

Take the Avalon Cinema, the rundown movie palace on South Kingshighway, which is now up for sale.

According to a representative from Realty Exchange handling the property listing, the asking price set by building owner Greg Tsevis is a cool million bucks. He'll even throw in structural damage and a on-going lawsuit with the city at no extra charge. Given the fact that the City Assessor's Office appraised the land at $345,000, that's a downright a steal of a deal.

According to information at Listings Hub, the Avalon has been for sale since July 16, 2009. Last time we checked in on the property's on-going saga back in May, Tsevis (the reclusive owner) had been sued by the city. The city, led by Alderman Stephen Gregali, hoped to take control of the building, which had been left to crumble since its doors closed for good in 1999.

The dispute, though, dates back further, to early 2007, when Gregali began clashing with Tsevis over the derelict property and the owner's refusal to sell or fix-up the place, which he inherited from his parents. Back then, Tsevis was asking $1.2 million for the theater, but he frequently failed to respond to inquiries (he had no telephone and mail sent to him was often returned unopened. He couldn't be reached for comment for this post either). He had also been fined for several building code violations, the property was condemned in March 2007, and he was in trouble for unpaid property taxes.

When Tsevis offered me a tour of the building for a story I was writing about the dispute in July 2007, the place was an absolute mess. It was covered with bird poop and reeked of mold and mildew caused by a leaky roof. There was a mattress and a shopping cart left from some vagrants who had broken in and briefly lived there.

Today, Bjaye Greerthe real estate agent handling the property, says the story is still basically the same. Tsevis has not returned her calls inquiring about fixing up the place, he set the million dollar asking price, and he is still embroiled in a legal dispute with the city.

"It's too bad," Greer said. "The building is neat. It's the last of the best art decos here in the city. I wish somebody could save it but if it all happens and it's bought and something better is put in its place that's good too. I'm just trying to help Greg sell it and get people looking at it."

(Hat tip to Nick Phillips and Urban Review STL for the tip)

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