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Fox Theatre has a future now that settlement allows operators to buy the land it sits on

The Fox Theater's signs illuminate the building facade
Philip Leara
The Fox Theatre at 527 N. Grand Blvd. in the Grand Center arts district. Fox Associates and Foxland have reached a settlement after a yearslong court battle, with both parties saying the agreement ensures the theater will continue to produce shows without disruption.

The two companies that have been battling in St. Louis Circuit Court for control of the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis have reached a settlement.

Under terms of the settlement, Fox Associates, which bought the theater in 1981 and then restored it, will buy the property it sits on from landowner Foxland Inc.

Foxland had argued that it could take ownership of the building when the lease that Fox Associates had expires in 2025.

The agreement will allow Fox Associates to continue operating the theater while owning the land, Fox Associates attorney Gerry Greiman said.

“It means that Fox Associates will continue to bring great entertainment to the St. Louis community at the Fox Theater for many years to come and into the future,” Greiman said.

Greiman did not disclose how much Fox Associates paid for the land. Its ownership will shift to Fox Associates within 60 days.

After purchasing the building in 1981, Fox Associates inherited a 99-year lease to most of the land the theater sits on and began paying a $40,000 annual fee. It also began $10 million in upgrades to the building.

Foxland owns most of the land under the seating area. Fox Associates owns the backstage area and a nearby parking lot. Lawyers for Fox Associates argued earlier this year that a long trial could delay productions of upcoming shows.

Foxland lawyer Jerry Carmody said that the dispute goes back 20 years and that the settlement will allow Fox Associates to produce shows without a hitch.

“That was our concern, that the theater would go dark because of this dispute and who knows what would happen after that,” Carmody said. “We're very pleased. We had looked forward to trying to operate the theater and had made a lot of progress in that regard, but this turned out to be, in our view, the best outcome.”

Carmody said the settlement marks an end of an era for Foxland, which owned the land for decades.

“This was the last remaining vestige of those acquisitions in their investments in St. Louis,” Carmody said. “In that respect, it's kind of bittersweet."

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.