Fresno City Council votes to move forward with city purchase of Tower Theatre

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Tower Theatre is on its way to being owned by the city of Fresno.

Late Thursday afternoon, City council voted 4-3 to approve a $6.5 million deal.

The story of Fresno's Tower Theatre has reached a turning point.

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Adventure Church tried to buy the property in September 2020.

Neighbors said that violated zoning for the area and protested every Sunday.



The sale got complicated because Sequoia Brewing asserted a right in its rental agreement to buy its portion of the property.

The case is now hung up in court and the theater's owners and attorneys for the city believe the deal with Adventure expired.

But three hours of public discussion before the council vote veered into emotional comments.

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The city of Fresno has won a court ruling to get access to the Tower Theatre for an inspection and appraisal.



"We're here because two people inserted themselves into this deal from the jump and I can't wait for my day in court," said Anthony Flores, pastor at Adventure Church. "I hope you pass it today because I can't wait for my day in court to hold the city responsible for two reckless ideas that transpired."

"My wife and I chose Fresno because this city believes in its potential, strengthens itself with different cultures, and continually fights for optimism," said Josh Howk. "Safeguarding a historical cultural arts hub is an act of hope for this city."

A key part of the city's deal is that it would provide a legal defense for the owners of Sequoia and the theater, which Adventure is already suing for breach of contract.

"We've heard a lot of emotional arguments today and I think those are fair to put out there on the record, but what's important is to talk about the legal issues that the city is diving into," said David Emerzian, attorney for Adventure Church since February 2022.

"I'd like to hear from (Laurence Abbate) if there is, in his opinion, a pending sales contract with the church," said Councilmember Mike Karbassi.

City attorney Doug Sloan mentioned several pieces of evidence that Adventure's deal expired.

SEE ALSO: Tower Theatre dispute now includes legal action from City of Fresno
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For the first time, the city of Fresno is dipping a toe in the legal dispute over the fate of the Tower Theatre.



But three councilmembers voted against buying the theater at least partly because of the liability issues.

Even after the vote, Save the Tower Theatre protesters plan to be out in front of the theater again on Sunday, but not to protest; to celebrate.
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