Tower Theatre sale price, original deal revealed in legal battle

Action News has uncovered new information about the real estate deal, including the sale price that's been kept quiet for months.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- New details about the proposed sale of Fresno's Tower Theatre are coming to light during the fight over the future of the property.

Action News has uncovered new information about the real estate deal, including the sale price that's been kept quiet for months.

The fight over who will own the Tower Theatre spilled into public view in January 2021.

Protesters started gathering outside the theater to oppose a sale to Adventure Church.

RELATED: Police chief, mayor present at Tower Theatre protest to ensure safety

Neighbor and tenant Sequoia Brewing first got notice of the sale on Jan. 14.

"Sequoia responds and says, 'We've received your notice of sale, but we don't have the sale price. We need more information, mainly the sale price, to determine whether we want to exercise our option','" said legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "It's a legitimate request."

Lawyers for Sequoia say their lease gave them the option to buy at least their portion of the property, but they couldn't ever get a straight answer about the sale price.

They say an attorney for the theater's owners told them it was $6.8 million, but they never got documentation to prove that or the supposed $2.25 million price for just the parcel which Sequoia leases.

So they filed a breach of contract lawsuit.

Because of their lawsuit, they have what's called a lis pendens - a legal block on the sale of the theater property.

RELATED: Tower Theatre owners, Adventure Church 'conspired to conceal sale,' Sequoia Brewing Company lawsuit says

A judge threw it out in March, but an appeals court reinstated it and sent it back to the original judge.

Attorneys for the Tower Theatre's ownership file court documents arguing the judge should throw it out again, partly because she already ruled Sequoia was unlikely to win the breach of contract lawsuit.

Even if Sequoia's legal fight is successful, the church could potentially still buy the theater.

Attorneys said the theater's owners also offered to sell Sequoia its own portion of the property on March 9 and got no response, so Sequoia's owners gave up their rights outlined in the lease contract.

But legal analyst Tony Capozzi says the lease seems to require Sequoia's owners know the sale price before exercising their option to buy.

RELATED: Tower Theatre dispute now includes legal action from City of Fresno

They didn't find out until April 27 and offered to buy it less than a week later.

When they got their first look at the contract to sell the theater, they discovered the church agreed to pay $3.9 million in a contract signed in September, more than three months before anyone told Sequoia's owners.

"To me, they have a right to keep the lis pendens on the property because the litigation is still going on and I think they have a valid argument to make in court that they have a right to purchase this property," Capozzi said.

A judge is scheduled to decide later this month whether Sequoia has a good enough case to postpone the sale.

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