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Historic Tower Theatre is For Sale. Neighbors are Concerned About Possible Buyer.

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The Tower Theatre, the namesake and anchor of the Tower District in Fresno, is for sale, and neighbors are concerned about rumors of who the new owners may be.

A flyer from KW Commercial, a real estate broker, lists the asking price as $6.5 million.

According to buzz on social media, Adventure Church may be the buyer. The church already conducts Sunday services at the theater.

Neither the theater — owned for years by the Abbate family — nor the church responded to GV Wire’s request for comment.

Real estate databases show Tower Theatre Productions as the current owner.

Posts on social media raise concerns about the church’s perceived attitude toward the LGBT community and its potential impact on nearby businesses that sell alcohol.

Could Church Ownership Reduce Tower Visitors?

“Bars and nightclubs can’t move in next door to your church or school for very good reason. Likewise, the reverse should not be true either.”Tyler Mackey, Tower District Marketing Committee

For Tyler Mackey — executive director of the Tower District Marketing Committee — the concern of a church-owned Tower Theatre isn’t about ideology as it is about practicality.

“It would not affect existing conditional use permits for liquor that surround (the theater). But should any of those guys attempt to sell, they would not be able to sell their liquor license, which would devalue their businesses,” Mackey said.

Generally, liquor is not allowed to be sold if it is near a church.

“Bars and nightclubs can’t move in next door to your church or school for very good reason. Likewise, the reverse should not be true either,” Mackey said.

Mackey is also concerned that if a church owned the theater, it would not hold as many cultural and arts events that draw tens of thousands to the Tower District and its businesses.

“Even a thousand church parishioners would not have the same economic impact,” Mackey said.

Not About a Church Nor Ideology

Several comments on social media are concerned about a perceived LGBT-bias the church may have. Some of that may be based on an item found at Gay Central Valley, but GV Wire℠ has not been able to independently confirm the sale or details about the church’s policies.

The Tower District is known for its LGBT-friendly events, including a gay pride parade and the Pride Film Festival. Mackey concedes, though, that the owner of the theater has a right to determine what types of programming or shows are presented.

“If an organization comes in — an entertainment company, a totally legitimate entertainment company — decides that they want to come in and buy the theater, but they’re not interested in hosting Reel Pride … That’s their right,” Mackey said. “We don’t own the theater.”

Mackey said the church’s views are irrelevant. He has doubts the area at the corner of Olive and Wishon avenues is even zoned for a religious institution.

“It actually bothers me very much that this situation has the potential to break the community. This is a moment for unity. This is a moment for the community to come together and unify behind the municipal code,” Mackey said.

Councilman Miguel Arias is aware of the concerns. He says the city is exploring if the church would need a conditional use permit and other factors related to a possible sale.

Mackey would prefer an entertainment company purchase the theater, but said he does not want to stand in the way of the Abbate family selling.

“Financially, this may be the end of their rope. And it’s not for us to block a sale per se, because this could be a desperate … we don’t know what their financial holdings are. We don’t know what their burden is. And we should not be here to judge,” Mackey said.

Mackey has started a Facebook page “Save the Tower Theater.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email