FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) –On Sunday morning, demonstrators gathered outside the Tower Theatre to celebrate. On Thursday, the Fresno City Council approved the purchase of the historic site following months of legal battles.

“It’s been a long 15, almost 16 months that we’ve been out here,” said Laura Splotch with the Save the Tower Theatre Committee

“We really feel this is a very positive step forward,” added Jaguar Bennett, another committee member. 

The sale of the theatre sparked controversy for more than a year after Adventure Church tried to buy it. That deal was put on hold due to legal action.

“We’ve been pursuing this sale for a year and three months now, doing everything above board, but there’s just a small group of people who do not like Adventure Church,” pastor Anthony Flores said. 

Photo of the Tower Theatre in Fresno’s Tower District.

The City is buying the property for $6.5 million. Councilmember Gary Bredefeld cast one of the three votes against the purchase agreement, saying it was a waste of taxpayer money.

“In this city, with rampant crime, we should be hiring more police officers. Not creating financial schemes that will cost the taxpayers potentially tens of millions of dollars,” Bredefeld said at the council meeting on Thursday.

But demonstrators say it was the right thing to do.

“It should’ve been done a while ago but there were lots of legal issues,” said Splotch. “If they had to rezone to actually use it legally, they would change the whole face of Tower. This is a bar, entertainment district. And we want the Tower Theatre as a community theatre where we can have events, plays, concerts.”

“The Tower District is such an essential, financial asset for the city. This is our premiere tourist destination –the nightlife, the live music, the theatre, the bars, the restaurants,” said Bennett.