Fresno’s Tower Theatre is being bought by a local church, creates social media backlash

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FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno’s Tower Theater is changing hands. Adventure Church is in the process of purchasing the site and the property is currently in escrow.

However, some Tower District residents and businesses are objecting to the move. They want the same Tower Theatre to return when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The Tower Theatre opened in 1939. One of the most photographed landmarks in the city, it is the centerpiece of an arts and entertainment district home to bars, restaurants, shops, galleries, and nightlife.

“There is something to be said for the fact that one Friday night you can have a rock concert, and the next Friday night you can have a jazz musician, and the next Friday night a burlesque show,” said Tower District Marketing Committee’s Tyler Mackey. “It brings this diversity of all cultures and puts it into this melting pot in Fresno that we tend to be so proud of.”

Mackey says the Theatre plays a vital role for area businesses by bringing visitors to the Tower District.

“Those people then filter into the nightlife, the businesses, the restaurants, the bars. It creates diversity and keeps people coming to the tower and rediscovering it.”

The sale of the Tower Theater created a storm on social media, some accusing outsiders of trying to take over a place where they find safety and acceptance.

“We’re accepting of all people in the Tower District,” said Mike Briggs, a Tower District realtor, radio personality, and former city and state representative. “All backgrounds and all interests and all religions.”

Briggs says the development plan for the Tower District was first created in the 1980s.

“Which says where bars can go, where churches can go, where schools can go, whether you can have a home in your business.  The guidelines are very specific. If the Tower Theatre were to sell to whatever business that required a conditional use permit, the people of the Tower will have a chance to step up and add input on it. It’s not automatic.”

Adventure Church was contacted for comment on this story but had not responded at the time of this story’s filing.

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April 29 2021 12:00 am

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