Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Differences on Grand Center Erupt Slu, Symphony, Ketc, Fox Want to Take Helm

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Differences on Grand Center Erupt Slu, Symphony, Ketc, Fox Want to Take Helm

Article excerpt

Clarence Barksdale, chairman of the board of Grand Center, says he opposes a plan by some major institutions along Grand Boulevard to take over most of the management.

The institutions, led by St. Louis University, want to form a not-for-profit foundation that would do most of the decision-making that Grand Center does now. Among other things, the group wants to improve security, run the parking lots and push aggressively to bring more restaurants, cultural, office, and other development into the eight-year-old arts and entertainment district.

The other institutions in the group are the St. Louis Symphony, the Fox Theatre and KETC (Channel 9). KETC this week disclosed designs for a $9 million broadcast studio it wants to build near Olive Street and Spring Avenue, a block west of Grand.

Barksdale, a vice chancellor at Washington University, says he doesn't quibble with giving the institutions a bigger role in making decisions. He said that is already under way.

"Grand Center is not a grand center without those institutions," Barksdale said, "and their wishes are our dreams, too."

But, he said: "We need another not-for-profit here like we need a hole in the head. . . . It just doesn't make sense to start another organization to supervise an already complicated situation."

Kathleen Brady, a vice president for facilities management and civic affairs at St. Louis University, is the only representative for the institutions involved who would discuss their proposal.

Brady said the idea for the new foundation originated a year ago, after Barksdale and others at Grand Center "came to the university and asked us if we could take a more active leadership role." Brady said the idea was discussed but dropped. She said part of the reason was that Grand Center's board - with nearly 30 members - then had only one representative from a major institution in the area. That was the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, SLU president.

"We were uncomfortable about digging in, when we didn't feel we had a role on the board," Brady said. ". . . Part of the problem we kept hearing - that we would fix with our proposal - is that the institutions are not well-represented on the board. …

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