Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clayco Says It's Stepping Up with $500,000 to Keep the Loop Trolley on Track

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clayco Says It's Stepping Up with $500,000 to Keep the Loop Trolley on Track

Article excerpt

Clayco, a development firm with deep St. Louis ties, is stepping forward to donate a half-million dollars to get the long-delayed Loop Trolley project rolling next spring.

The cash infusion from the Clayco Foundation and Clayco's St. Louis-based real estate subsidiary CRG comes at a critical time for the 2.2-mile electric trolley line, which connects the Delmar Loop in University City to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

"We will immediately commit to the funds necessary to ramp up and get started," said Clayco Chairman and CEO Bob Clark.

Les Sterman, president of the Loop Trolley Co., notified local officials in October that without an infusion of $500,000, the nonprofit group behind the trolley would be insolvent.

The trolley project spearheaded by restaurateur and business owner Joe Edwards has faced criticism due to delays, construction that blocked access to businesses and the cost: $51 million from federal and local sources, including $3 million from St. Louis County, $250,000 from University City and about $310,000 from private donations. In August, St. Louis County officials refused to approve an additional half-million dollars to fund the project that initially was estimated to cost $43 million.

A recent Post-Dispatch column about the Loop Trolley's setbacks spurred the donation, Clark said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

"There's been so much negativity, and with this, we're trying to move the community forward," Clark said.

Clayco is not part of the construction team for the project. Clark said he stopped to take a look at the Loop Trolley cars recently and came away impressed at what the line will bring to the region.

"I think it'll be a really positive experience for St. Louis," Clark said. "I know the taxpayers are done putting money into it."

Clark said the donation, a matching grant, is intended to spur others in the business community to support the project. The funds will help the trolley's backers secure remaining permits and operational requirements. …

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