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A Fresno County judge will decide whether to block the sale of a portion of the Tower Theatre.

Judge Rosemary McGuire will hear a request from the owners of Sequoia Brewing Company to place an injunction on the sale of the building they lease from the owners of the Tower Theatre.

Judge Rosemary McGuire (Image: SJCL)

The owner of the theater is in the process of selling its property — including the iconic theater and other buildings on that block that are leased to restaurants — to Adventure Church.

The restaurant/brewer alleges its lease gives them the first right to buy the building, something that has been denied.

The hearing is set for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

It is unclear what happens to the rest of the sale if McGuire grants a preliminary injunction.

Protesters — several from the Tower District community — opposed the sale since news of the church’s pending purchase became public last month. Some are concerned about the effect the church will have on surrounding businesses that sell liquor and drugs. Others say the church is not a proper fit for the neighborhood.

Real estate broker Jared Ennis has told GV Wire℠ in the past that escrow — the legal period between the preliminary sale and when it becomes final — is supposed to close by mid-February.

Fresno County Assessor Paul Dictos says paperwork for the sale had not been filed in his office as of Friday morning.

Amended Lawsuit

In an amendment to the lawsuit filed Wednesday, J&A Mash & Barrel, LLC — the corporate entity owning Sequoia Brewing Company — added Adventure Church as a defendant and two new causes of action, fraudulent concealment and tortious interference with a contract.

The church has been renting the theater for events for the past several years, and for weekly services since last May.

According to the lawsuit, Sequoia has the first right of refusal to purchase the building housing its Tower District restaurant, currently under lease through 2022. When it found out about the sale, the restaurant demanded information about the sale. It has been attempting to exercise its right since at least Jan. 25.

“Despite these demands, Landlord refused to provide Plaintiff any information about the offer of Church or the agreement between Landlord and Church,” the suit said.

Regarding the church’s role, the suit says, “Church thereafter conspired with Landlord to conceal from Plaintiff their negotiations and agreement to purchase the Premises.”

In addition to seeking a restraining order, the lawsuit requests damages “to punish” both the Tower Theatre owners and the church.

A different judge, Gabriel Brickey, is listed in court documents to hear the lawsuit itself. The next date, a case management conference, is scheduled for June 24.

GV Wire℠ reached out to the theater owner and its attorney, but did not receive an immediate response.

3 Responses

  1. Jim

    It seems to me that Sequoia should be required proof of ability to purchase this property for them to be able to exercise their right.

    Reply
    • William

      Agreed Jim in the current local anti-restaurant climate by City of Fresno its unlikely they have a lender willing to lend money to restaurants that are barely staying above ground and drowning in debt.
      Sequoia Breweey should have to provide the courts a line of credit extended for the purchase . This will show they in good- faith do plan on purchasing the building and are not just trying illegal stalling of a real estate transaction.
      The other glaring issue is Sequoia Brewery is part of the same APN number as the theater and entire corner. The city would have to subdivide the property unless Sequoia Brewery coughs up $ 6.5 million for the entire corner as is. Put up or shut up.

      Reply
  2. Kernel

    If you want to re-write the terms of the ROFR, then take it to court. I am sure that the intervening time it takes to go through discovery would give J&A Mash plenty of time to come up with the money. Nothing in the lease makes any mention of showing ability to purchase. Besides the entire point would be moot in about twelve days if they could not meet the terms. I wonder too about the market value of the property after discovery drags on for years.

    Reply

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