FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – An appeals court has ruled in favor of a Fresno bar when it comes to the sale of the Tower Theatre to the Adventure Community Church.
A ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the Sequoia Brewing Company has halted the sale of the theatre for now.
People who are opposed to the church permanently moving into the theatre say this ruling buys them more time to try to get the Fresno City Council to act.
“This is a great victory for Sequoia, it’s a great victory for the Tower District community, and it’s a great victory for just plain rule of law,” said Jaguar Bennett of the Save the Tower Theatre Committee.
Bennett says the sale of the theatre to Adventure Church would negatively impact not just Sequoia Brewing Company, but the entire nightlife district and community.
The ruling details the back and forth between Sequoia and the theatre. Court documents show the owners of Sequoia say their lease shows a right of first refusal, meaning they believed it would allow them to purchase the Tower Theater properties if it ever went up for sale.
Court documents say the owners of the theatre started the process of selling the property to the church before letting Sequoia know they wanted to sell.
Now, the judge has placed a ‘lis pendes’ on the property, which means litigation is pending.
Attorney and legal analyst Charles Magill says while it’s a temporary halt, it could stop the sale entirely. Magill says he thinks there are ways the owners could work it out.
“If it was just for the property they were located at, and the parking lot surrounding their property because they need that for their business, then this could still sell, the city would just have to sub-divide it to honor that contract,” explained Magill.
In the meantime, Bennett says he’d like to see more action from the city council. He says even without the sale, the church meeting at the theatre every Sunday is still an issue.
“As long as adventure church continues to meet here, in violation of zoning laws, the work is not quite finished,” Bennett said.
We did reach out to the Adventure Church’s pastor, but he told us he did not want to provide a comment at this time. It will likely be months before this case is back in front of a judge.