FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno is citing a city church for renovations to a historic building in the downtown area. Photos taken by City Councilmember Miguel Arias show what is left inside Hardy’s Theater on Van Ness, the oldest theater in Fresno.

Arias says the city code enforcement cited Universal Church for making changes without a permit. The city has not issued fines and is completing the inspection.

“When I was walking in, I wasn’t sure what to expect – but it was heartbreaking to see it mostly gutted,” said Christopher Rocha with the Historic Preservation Commission.

The building, listed on the local historical register, became the Hardy’s Theater in 1931.

Councilmember Arias represents the district. He says he noticed the construction but wasn’t aware of any plans. He alerted code enforcement, and during the inspection saw most of the seats and second floor were gone.

“People were taken back by the significant demolition that has been done. essentially the whole interior has been demolished except for crown molding that’s left,” Arias said.

Arias added that the church plans to add in an elevator and two housing units for the pastors.

“This is unchartered territory for us as a city. We are looking at every single option with outside counsel.”  

The church has 30 days to submit permit proposals to the city. Eyewitness News is yet to receive a response from the church.