Adventure Church will ask a judge to block the city of Fresno’s pending purchase of the Tower Theatre.
Following up on its vow to bring the city into its ongoing lawsuit, the church will file an amended lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court, attorneys said in a statement on Wednesday. The updated litigation will also name Tower Theatre owner Laurence Abbate individually.
The church will seek a preliminary injunction, which could put the brakes on the sale.
In its statement, the church said it wants the city to stop “wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.”
“Adventure Church regrets that as a result of the irresponsible decision of … four Councilmembers, the people of Fresno will foot the bill not only for the City’s defense, they also will pay to defend private defendants, including the Tower Theatre owners who walk away from the deal with a multi-million dollar windfall, also funded by the City of Fresno taxpayers,” attorney David Emerzian said.
Emerzian did not say when the amended lawsuit will be filed. The city has set a 45-day escrow to close the deal.
$6.5 Million Purchase
Last week in a contentious 4-3 vote, the Fresno City Council approved the purchase of the theater and surrounding properties for $6.5 million. The church attempted to buy the property in 2020, but the sale was held up by legal entanglements with a restaurant that leases part of the Tower property.
Under the terms of the deal, the city will take over the legal defense of the Tower Theatre and its tenant, Sequoia Brewing Company. The restaurant, which sued the theatre in a contract dispute, will be allowed to buy the property it leases for $1.2 million.
The city will provide Sequoia Brewing with financing for the purchase through a 30-year, below-market-rate loan of 3.5%.
Adventure Church rents the theatre building for Sunday services.
Protesters have engaged in weekly demonstrations at the theater since January 2021, protesting the church’s attempt to purchase the iconic venue.
While many of the activists praised the city’s acquisition, Mayor Jerry Dyer continues to express his doubts.
Dyer is seeking counsel from his city manager and city attorney on the potential next steps.