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Business dispute prompts Fox Theatre to claim it could close in 2025

The theater's owner, Fox Associates LLC, has leased land from the other property owner, Foxland Inc., under a 99-year ground lease that expires in January 2025.

ST. LOUIS — A business dispute imperils the future operation of the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Grand Center, perhaps as soon as 2025, according to claims made in a lawsuit. But another party says it could take over and continue operations.

The Fox, a city landmark crafted in the Siamese-Byzantine Baroque style as a movie theater, dates to 1929 and now hosts Broadway and other performances, with upcoming shows including My Fair Lady, Hairspray and Hamilton.

But according to the lawsuit, which was originally filed last year, the iconic theater is situated upon two pieces of land owned by different entities. The theater's owner, Fox Associates LLC, an entity tied to Mary Strauss, Lisa Baudendistel Suntrup and Julie Baudendistel Noonan, has leased land from the other property owner, Foxland Inc., tied to Charles Modlin, under a 99-year ground lease that expires in January 2025. Fox Associates pays $40,000 per year to Foxland, court records show.

With the lease set to expire, Fox Associates claims in court records that it has sought to either extend the lease or purchase the land from Foxland in order to continue operating the theater. But so far, it said those efforts have failed because rather than basing a deal on the value of its real estate, Foxland wants to be compensated "for a portion of the value of Fox Associates' business" or be allowed to purchase its business outright. Fox Associates, in the lawsuit, said its business is not for sale. 

Click here to read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal.

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