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Despite their location in the shadow of SLU, beloved gay bars Magnolia's and the Complex aren't going anywhere


Rumors have been flying around town for a while now about the fate of two of St. Louis gay nightclubs -- the venerable Magnolia's, 5 S. Vandeventer, and the nearby popular spot the Complex, 3511 Chouteau. Recently it's been spoken as fact that one or both are in the process of moving, the result of a new round of real-estate investments by St. Louis University.

Well, to make a potentially huge story short and boring, none of the gossip is true. Neither bar is moving. Neither's home has been sold to SLU. Neither bar's management, it seems, has even been approached by the university with an offer.

"Quite honestly," says Complex owner Howard Meyer, "I'm in the process of buying the rest of this property from my landlord as we speak. I think I'm going to put a huge banner across the back of the building," he adds mischievously. "Welcome to the SLUplex!"

Ditto Magnolia's. Says Mag's co-owner John Knowles, "We've been hearing that rumor for over a year now." The club has had to deal with SLU on another issue: The Catholic institution has assumed ownership of the monstrous parking lot that used to handle Mag's 2 a.m. auto overflow. Says Knowles, "They bought our parking lot, and they closed it off so we can't use it. And that's not good, because we lost a 10-car parking lot; we've leased that for 14 years, and when they bought it they decided to make it student parking only."

Magnolia's simply leases its space, but Don Yakteman of A.C.Y. Realty, who owns the building, confirms that the university has neither bought the property nor even spoken to him. "I've not been contacted," he says. He says he, too, has heard the rumors that he's sold the building. "They don't even say "rumor.' It's not, "The rumor is you sold the building. It's, "Oh, you sold the building.'" Yakteman, in fact, likes having SLU as a neighbor and says the university has done wonders for the neighborhood.

So SLU students can relax; they're still within walking distance of two great gay nightclubs, neither of which, apparently, is going anywhere. The rest of us will have to cruise for a decent parking space around Mag's, but at least the university was kind enough to provide well-lit walkways. It shows that they care.

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