New photos detail conditions of closed downtown club, owner now being sued for nearly $400k

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Right now, Reign’s windows are boarded up and the doors are locked. The empty restaurant and nightclub have been like this since St. Louis City shut it down in October 2021. Now, some downtown property owners are calling for more accountability, and not just from city officials.

New photos show trash in nearly every corner, open liquor bottles, and destroyed and piled up furniture. These pictures are in court documents between Copia Acquisition LLC and Dana Kelly, Reign’s owner.

“I’ve never seen a space torn up as much as this Reign space. It was shocking what Reign did to that space,” Brad Waldrop said.

Waldrop is a downtown property owner and commercial real estate broker. He’s been in the business for more than two decades. He saw Reign’s condition in person and said it was unlike anything he’s ever seen.

However, Reign’s owners’ lack of alleged care for the property isn’t what got the club closed in the first place. They hosted parties without masking or distancing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The club also had multiple incidents involving violent crime starting inside the club, then pouring out onto the streets, shooting and injuring multiple innocent bystanders.

Copia Acquisition LLC, which owns the building, has been suing Reign’s owner for not paying rent. Now, Copia claims Kelly owes them nearly $400,000 for all of the damage left behind, in addition to unpaid rent.

“They ripped out fireplaces, they ripped out water heaters, furnaces,” Waldrop explained.

Waldrop said Copia failed to vet Kelly properly before renting out the more than 16,000-square-foot venue to her. He said his company does a thorough vetting process, even for applicants.

“We have them go through an application process. It’s much like getting a bank loan. We check credit, we get two years of tax returns, three months of bank statements,” Waldrop said.

The list goes on. In Waldrop’s opinion, there were other red flags ignored in this rental process as well.

“The main thing we look for, especially with restaurant users or bar users, is experience. In the case of Reign, she [Dana Kelly] had absolutely no restaurant or bar experience. So, to me, it looks as if the landlord didn’t go through an application process at all,” Waldrop continued.

Waldrop and other property owners told News 4 that the city needs to step in sooner and hold both landlords and renters accountable.

“The City of St. Louis really isn’t doing anything, as we saw with Reign until people get killed,” Waldrop said.

News 4 made multiple attempts to reach out to Kelly. Right now, the attorney representing her in litigation against Copia LLC is unknown. According to court documents, Kelly terminated her client-attorney agreement with her former attorney, William Dailey, just last week.

We also reached out to Copia LLC for comment and have not heard back.

Kelly and Copia head to a jury trial over Kelly’s alleged lack of rent payments on April 26.