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Well-known developer Don Breckenridge dies

The Kiel Opera House has sat empty for years (KWMU file photo)
The Kiel Opera House has sat empty for years (KWMU file photo)

By Matt Sepic, KWMU / AP

St. Louis, MO – Well-known St. Louis developer Donald Breckenridge has died. He was 73.

His family says Breckenridge died last night (Wednesday) of lung cancer at his home in downtown St. Louis. His home was a condo in a building near the Savvis Center that was slated for demolition before he resurrected it.

Despite the lung cancer, his wife, Diane, says Breckenridge never smoked. He's being rememberd as a "city visionary" and an "optimist of all optimists."

Breckenridge's business focused mainly on hotels. He built his first one in 1964 in Jefferson City, and then developed others around the country.

Breckenridge was most recently known for his dream to renovate St. Louis' Kiel Opera House and its five theaters. His family says they will realize that dream for him.

The largest of the theaters will seat about 3,500 people for touring Broadway shows.

Mayor Francis Slay says that project will still move forward. "First of all, what we need to do is take some time to remember Don and all of the good things he's done for the city, and then we can regroup and think about how we can make that project become a reality," Slay said Thursday.

The city still needs to acquire the Abram Federal Building to use as a parking garage for the Opera House.

Breckenridge also sat on the Board of Trustees for Webster University.

His funeral will be held Monday morning at 11:00, at Ladue Chapel.