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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis’ LGBT Center abandons plans to buy building; retains nonprofit status

St. Louis' LGBT Center had been in negotiations to buy this building, the Grand Oak Hill Community Center, but an anonymous donor backed out of the deal.
Nancy Fowler
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St. Louis' LGBT Center had been in negotiations to buy this building, the Grand Oak Hill Community Center, but an anonymous donor backed out of the deal.

St. Louis will not be getting the LGBT Center building its board promised a year ago.

The Center moved out of its building in the Grove area in April 2014 and established an online-only presence. Last June board president Dara Strickland said they were looking to buy a building, thanks to an anonymous donor. That move was to take place in early 2015.

Today in an email, Strickland said the donor has backed out.

In December, the board was in negotiations to buy the much larger Grand Oak Hill Community Center building, 4168 Juniata St., at the corner of Bent Avenue. Strickland said today that the donor had concerns after looking at the building.

Dara Strickland
Credit Provided by the LGBT Center
Dara Strickland

“We addressed his concerns with a plan for further investigation, but he still had second thoughts about funding the purchase of that particular building,” Strickland wrote.

Strickland said that since February, “The board has focused our efforts … on determining what the community needs most from The Center and whether or not a building is the best way to serve the community and the other organizations that support it.”

Strickland said the Center will retain its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and continue to operate its website  and Facebook page, and a phone line. But on Friday, calling the 1-888-350-4477 number on the Center’s website got you this message: “The number you dialed is not in service.”

A local phone number on the website and Facebook page initially directs callers to that same out-of-service number. But the second number does take messages and promises to return calls.

Last June, Strickland said the board wanted its new building to provide not only a gathering and performance space but also an incubator for emerging LGBT organizations. At that time, she emphasized that even in the internet age, people still need the Center to have a physical presence, offering face-to-face support.

“They want someone to not only help them find the resources they need but to give a recommendation and connect to, personally,” she said, a year ago.

In Friday’s email, Strickland said the LGBT Center board will offer a more complete statement after PrideFest, scheduled for the last weekend of this month at Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis.

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

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