The Shakespeare Theatre Company moved a step closer to trial Friday in its tenancy dispute over the company’s longtime theater in the Lansburgh building downtown.

The Tony Award-winning classical troupe is the plaintiff in the case against Lansburgh Theatre Inc., the nonprofit entity created to support the STC’s occupancy of the performance space. The upscale Lansburgh apartment building is owned by developer Graham Gund; the 450-seat theater was built as part of the deal to acquire and develop the property at Seventh and E streets NW more than 20 years ago.

In D.C. Superior Court on Friday, both sides said negotiations have gone well since the last hearing in December. But while Patrick Connor, representing the LTI, argued that setting a trial date is not yet necessary, STC lawyer (and board member) Abbe Lowell said moving toward trial guarantees an endpoint to the standoff. Judge John Ramsey Johnson agreed.

The dispute has been brewing for years and continues, in part, to involve control of the three-person LTI board. Last year, the LTI demanded a sharp increase in the STC’s annual maintenance fees from $70,000 to $480,000.

No trial date is set, but both parties have three weeks to submit findings of fact. Meanwhile, settlement talks continue.