Arts Council may move into River Nick's building

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Arts Council executive director Delilah Tayloe said the deal hasn't been finalized, though a sign on the door at River Nick's calls the building the council's future home.

The Arts Council of Southeast Missouri may soon have a new, more visible home in downtown Cape Girardeau.

A sign on the door at the former location of River Nick's restaurant at 1 N. Main St. proclaims the location as the future home of the Arts Council.

But Arts Council executive director Delilah Tayloe said the deal isn't finalized yet.

"We're just studying the feasibility and putting together a committee to take a close look at it," Tayloe said Monday.

The Arts Council has occupied its current space at 32 N. Main St. since 2003. The building is owned by a group called Clila, a partnership of the Blank family that owns Bi-State Oil Co. Gaye Blank is a former chair of the Arts Council's board of directors, Tayloe said. The organization rents the space at a much lower price than Clila could get from a commercial operation renting the space, she said.

Tayloe declined to say on the record how much the not-for-profit Arts Council pays in rent at its current location.

"They have been very generous with us," Tayloe said, adding that the facility might be the best of facilities for organizations around the state funded by the Missouri Arts Council. The local council is the oldest such entity in the state.

Southeast Missourian reporters were unable to reach Guy Tomasino, who owns the building at 1 N. Main St. But Tomasino sent an e-mail to the newspaper saying the restaurant closed Dec. 22 and that the building would be the new home of the Arts Council.

Tayloe said a deadline hasn't been set for completing the committee's work studying the move, but on initial review, things look favorable.

"We'd be delighted if everything works out, but at this point it's not set in stone," Tayloe said.

The new location would have several advantages over the current location, Tayloe said, including proximity to parking in the large parking lot just south of Independence Street downtown and extra visibility with the building's location and large outside windows. At its current location the Arts Council can only display a few works of art in its display windows, but the 1 N. Main St. location would provide more on-street display room.

The former River Nick's building sits at the corner of Main and Independence streets and occupies the entire space between Main and Spanish streets.

The Arts Council has moved many times during its 46 years of existence. Before moving to its current location, the organization had four homes in 10 years.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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