FRESNO, California (KGPE) – The controversial Tower Theatre sale reached the courtroom Wednesday as a Fresno County judge issued a temporary restraining order, halting the sale to Adventure Church.
J & A Mash and Barrel, the owners of Sequoia Brewing Co. requested the order about two weeks ago. Attorney’s representing them argued the sale violates their lease with the Tower Theatre’s owners. They say the lease gives them the right to buy the property if it’s up for sale and required them to be notified.
“What we asked the court for today and received was just to slow down the process to allow our rights to be considered because we felt that they weren’t being considered that the church and the landlord had obviously been negotiating since August and didn’t disclose this to us until the middle of January,” said attorney Kimberly Mayhew.
An attorney for Tower Theatre Properties argued the lease does not give Sequoia Brewing Co. the right to refuse the sale, saying the right to refusal was made an “option” under the previous tenant.
Judge Rosemary McGuire granted the temporary restraining order and encouraged all parties to come to the table to find an agreement to move forward. She scheduled another hearing for March 17 and says she will allow limited witnesses to testify.
Judge McGuire says the hearing will allow the court to determine the rights under the lease and wants the hearing is done within a day.
Wednesdays halt to sale was a small victory for Tower District residents who have protested the sale for months.
“We are quite cognizant that this is a first step in a long road ahead,” said Save the Tower Theatre Demonstration Committee board member Kaitlyn Nichols.
The community has raised more than $40,000 to support the legal efforts of Sequoia Brewing Co.
“The one positive of all of this is seeing a community come together to honor what this space has been for us and we will continue to do so with vigor and appreciation for what this space has meant for all of us,” said Nichols.