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Tivoli Theatre In St. Louis Will Reopen With New Owners

The Tivoli Theatre has been dormant for more than a year because of the coronavirus. It will reopen later in 2021 under new ownership. [4/8/21]
The Delmar Loop
The Tivoli Theatre has been dormant for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will reopen later this year under new ownership.

There’s good news for film fans in the St. Louis region: The historic Tivoli Theatre in the Delmar Loop will reopen later this year under new ownership.

Developer Joe Edwards agreed this week to sell the theater to One Family Church, which for 10 years has rented space there for weekly services. He’ll sell the building’s third and fourth floors to Integrity Web Consulting, a firm that has used the office space there for a similar length of time.

“I think it is going into the right hands for decades to come. And this is a good transition, I think, a positive one,” Edwards said.

Edwards bought the building in 1994 and spent $2 million on renovations.

The theater opened in 1924 and presented silent films and vaudeville performances before the building fell into disrepair. In recent years, it has been a principal venue for the St. Louis International Film Festival and a home for film lovers with a taste for documentaries and independent film.

“It’s really one of the few theaters that you can go to and experience film as it would have been when it was at its height, during the golden age of Hollywood,” said Cliff Froelich, executive director of Cinema St. Louis. He noted that the cinema’s largest theater still sports a rising curtain in front of the screen and an orchestra pit, remnants from previous eras.

Tivoli Theatre has been dormant since March 2020, when previous operator Landmark Theatres closed it because of coronavirus restrictions. The national chain, known for independent films and art house fare, has since reopened its Plaza Frontenac Cinema location in Frontenac but did not plan to reopen the Tivoli.

The Rev. Brent Roam of One Family Church declined to be interviewed before the sale is finalized in coming weeks, but did say the church welcomes recommendations from the public about what sort of programming the theater should feature.

File photo
St. Louis Public Radio
Joe Edwards purchased the Tivoli Theatre building in 1994 and spent $2 million renovating it. He said an impending sale will ensure it stays in good hands.

Edwards said he believes the Tivoli will still be a home for offbeat selections rather than Hollywood blockbusters. Froelich said he hopes Cinema St. Louis will be able to continue using the Tivoli as a major venue for the St. Louis International Film Festival, and he will have formal discussions with church representatives after the sale is final.

On the building’s upper floors, Integrity Web Consulting CEO John Simanowitz hopes to attract other firms to the office space there and create a “web district” in the neighborhood.

“We wanted to buy a building on the Loop and create an anchor to try and recruit other web tech companies to the Loop,” Simanowitz said. “We’ve been big advocates of this.”

He said the Loop provides the type of diverse and culturally rich environment that is attractive to top talent in the field.

“Before COVID, there were a lot of people talking about moving here. We had a couple companies from the coasts that I was really excited about coming here, as an advocate for St. Louis,” Simanowitz said. “I think it’s a great place to start and grow a business.”

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.