The owners of the local brewery and restaurant filed a lawsuit, saying their lease agreement with the theater's owners gives them the right to buy their property if it's up for sale.
NOW: Lawyers for @SequoiaBrewCo have just e-filed an injunction to stop the sale of the Tower Theatre to Adventure Church.— Corin Hoggard (@corinhoggard) February 13, 2021
As I’ve reported before, Sequoia ownership says their lease agreement gives them the right to buy the property if it’s for sale.
If the legal action is successful, it could block the pending sale of the Tower Theater to the Adventure Church.
Community members have protested the potential sale, saying the diverse and LGBTQ-friendly district would lose a valuable entertainment venue if the building is sold to a church.
In a statement on Friday, the Tower District Marketing Committee said it "stands in solidarity" with Sequoia Brewing Company.
The Painted Table, an events company that is housed in the building next to the theater, has also expressed interest in buying the building, and said it supports Sequoia Brewing Company's legal action.
This week, the dispute has attracted the attention of celebrities, including comedian Sarah Silverman and Fresno native and Tony-award winning actress Audra McDonald.
RELATED: Fresno native Audra McDonald tweets support for Tower Theatre amid ongoing controversy
Silverman made claims about the church's position on LGBTQ issues and tagged other celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Chelsea Handler, asking for their support or even if someone else would want to buy the location.
McDonald replied to Silverman's tweet, calling for the theater to be 'saved'.
My hometown. I practically spent every day of my childhood across the street from this theater. The Tower district is one of the most iconic districts and yes one of the most LGBTQ friendly districts in Fresno. It holds such a special place in my heart and it must be saved. https://t.co/IMNP5CMk6D— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) February 10, 2021
A GoFundMe started on Thursday will pay for the legal challenge by the Sequoia Brewing Company, and McDonald has already donated to the fund.
The agreement also calls for the parcel to be split, though, so the church could potentially still buy the theater property and split off the portion where Sequoia Brewing is.
Action News reached out to them for a response on Friday evening, but haven't heard back yet.
The historic Tower Theatre, located on Wishon and Olive, is located in the heart of Fresno's Tower District, which is named after it.