'Phantom of Fox' to Leave Theatre Home

9:26 PM, Aug 30, 2010   |    comments
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Fox Theatre's live-in "Phantom", Joe Patten

ATLANTA -- It appears the "Phantom of the Fox" will be leaving his home of more than three decades.

Joe Patten was given a lease for life on a 3,600 square foot, two-bedroom apartment upstairs at the Fox after he helped save the theatre from demolition and restore it to its original glory all those years ago.

But there was an out clause: a two-third's majority vote by the board, of which he is a member, could end his lease at any time.

That happened Monday night.

Visibly upset and angry by the board's decision, Patten told reporters after the private meeting, "I made a serious mistake in saving this building."

The board has offered him a new occupancy agreement to remain in the apartment.

"He will continue to be able to live...rent free and the Fox will continue to pay the majority of his utilities...",  Delaney said.

Patten and his attorney Emmet Bondurant, refused to sign it because they say it leaves him with no legal rights.

"It's full of requirments no one can live up to.  For example, no one can visit him without the board's approval," Bondurant said.

For years, Patten's apartment has been considered  one of the coolest bachelor pads in Atlanta. Just around the corner from the Fox Theatre's Peachtree Street entrance, you'll find his front door on Ponce. It comes complete with a passageway that connects him to the theater's balcony, where he can eavesdrop on any performance.

Behind the scenes, Patten is heralded for his meticulous and continuous maintenance of the Fox Theatre's huge pipe organ.  Engineering is his passion, and he's known for his constant repair of almost everything at the Fox.

But Patten was recently hospitalized for what he calls a "minor incident." 

"I'm in pretty good shape right now; climbing ladders, stairs, functioning the same that I have been for some 25, 30 or 40 years," Patten said Wednesday.

When he returned home from his recovery, he says was greeted with a letter explaining that his life-long lease might be terminated during a meeting of the Fox Theater's board on Monday.

Fox Theatre General Manager Allan  C. Vella said in a statement to 11Alive News  "he has been an important part of the Fox for over 40 years, and we have a genuine concern for Joe.  The purpose of Monday's meeting is to modify his current living arrangement.  As a formality, this requires us to terminate the existing lease and then create a new living arrangement so that he may remain in the apartment for as long as he is able."

Patten says once he is given formal notice of the termination of his lease, he will have 90 days to move.

His family in Florida has invited him to move down there with them, but he has declined their offer. 

Patten had said he wanted to live at the Fox until his dying day. Now he doesn't know where he'll go.

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