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City buys Abram Federal Building; Rice no longer seeking building

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – The city of St. Louis is moving forward with plans to buy the Abram Federal Building downtown and turn it into a parking garage.

Developers say the purchase is key to reopening the Kiel Opera House.

The feds declared the building surplus property four years ago.

City Asset Manager Jim Garavaglia says officials have already put money down, and the Board of Aldermen is considering whether to buy it outright.

"The bottom line is that we will pay $3.8 million for the building itself, and have the opportunity to use it in support of the opera house renovation, or have it to utilize for our own purpose," Garavaglia said.

He says the cost will be offset by the sale of another city building on Grand Avenue.

Televangelist Larry Rice had also wanted the Abram Building to expand his homeless shelter, but federal officials denied his request.

Rice says he is no longer pursuing the building.