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Maricopa County v. Fox Riverside theatre Corp.

Supreme Court of Arizona

March 29, 1943

MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA, Appellant,
v.
FOX RIVERSIDE THEATRE CORPORATION, a Corporation, and CITY OF PHOENIX, a Municipal Corporation, Appellees

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Arthur T. LaPrade, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Mr. Richard F. Harless, County Attorney, Mr. Leslie C. Hardy, Deputy County Attorney, and Mr. E. G. Frazier, Deputy County Attorney, for Appellant.

Messrs. Fennemore, Craig, Allen & Bledsoe, for Appellee Fox Riverside Theatre Corporation.

Mr. Hess Seaman, City Attorney and Mr. William C. Fields, Assistant City Attorney, for Appellee City of Phoenix.

OPINION

[60 Ariz. 261] STANFORD, J.

This is an action brought by Maricopa County, a political subdivision of the State of Arizona, to determine whether the ownership of the building and improvements on lands leased from the City of Phoenix by the assignor of the defendant Fox Riverside Theatre Corporation is in the City of Phoenix, and consequently exempt from taxation by the state and county because of our constitutional provision exempting municipal property, or is in the Fox Riverside Theatre Corporation, and consequently subject to be taxed.

The defendant City of Phoenix, is a municipal corporation of the State of Arizona, having a charter adopted pursuant to Article XIII of the constitution of our state.

On the 19th day of July, 1929, the City of Phoenix leased to the assignor of the defendant Fox Riverside Theatre Corporation the northwest corner of Block twenty-three, being 150 feet on Washington Street by 200 feet on First Street, for a period of fifty years, at the monthly rental of $1,166.66, commencing on the 19th day of July, 1929, and the lessee was to erect a building thereon at a cost of not less than $300,000.

[60 Ariz. 262] This case was commenced in the superior court of Maricopa County in November, 1935, but was not decided there until February, 1942. Meantime other litigation, hereinafter referred to, in reference to the property has been decided.

Before the assignment of the lease herein involved the Fox West Coast Theatres, the assignor of the defendant Fox Riverside Theatre Corporation herein, brought a declaratory action in the superior court of Maricopa County to determine the validity of the lease in question before the expenditure of the large amount of money involved for the erection of the improvements thereon. Said superior court held that the lease was a valid lease, and this Court in the case of Woodward et al. v. Fox West Coast Theatres, 36 Ariz. 251, 284 P. 350, held the lease to be valid.

The City of Phoenix in answering the plaintiff's complaint claims that the improvements erected thereon were, under the terms of the lease, a part of the realty,

"and alleges that the attempt of said plaintiff to assess for taxation the property described in said complaint is in violation of the express provisions of Section 2 Article 9 of the Constitution of the State of Arizona, which provides 'that there shall be exempt from taxation all federal, state, county and municipal property,....'"

Among the many things contended by the defendant Fox Riverside Theatre ...


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