Adventure Church to File Lawsuit Against City of Fresno Over Tower Theatre

Photo: Tower Theatre/Facebook

FRESNO, CA (KMJ) – Adventure Church sends e-mail, Wednesday, announcing the organization’s intent to file lawsuit against City of Fresno and other entities over the sale of Tower Theatre.

On April 21, 2022, Fresno City council voted to purchase the Tower Theatre, despite the likelihood of a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

Council voted 4-3 in favor of buying the historic Tower Theater at a cost of $6.5 million.

Councilmembers Arias, Esparza, Maxwell and Soria voted in favor, while Council Members Bredefeld, Chavez and Karbassi voted against what had become a controversial proposal.

David Emerzian, Partner at McCormick Barstow LLP, part of the legal firm representing Adventure Church sent the following release, received Wednesday, April 27, 2022 by KMJ:

Many of you have reached out to my client, Adventure Church, Inc., and my office. Please allow the following to serve as an official statement on behalf of Adventure Church, Inc.:

“Adventure Church was extremely disappointed, but not surprised, with the reckless decision made by Fresno City Councilmembers Arias, Esparza, Maxwell and Soria last Thursday to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to interfere with a private contract between Adventure Church and the Tower Theater owners. The four Councilmembers’ decision is even more troubling because to make the deal happen, they also voted to fund a private $950,000 loan (payable over 30 years) to Sequoia Brewery at a below market interest rate of 3.5%, to reimburse the Tower Theatre owners and Sequoia Brewery owners close to $500,000 in attorney fees and costs, to pay, one of the Tower Theatre owners, Laurence Abbate $8,000 a month to continue managing the Tower Theatre, and perhaps worst of all to indemnify and hold harmless the Tower Theatre owners, including Mr. Abbate, and the Sequoia Brewery owners, in any litigation that Adventure Church must pursue to protect its rights from the actions of the Tower Theatre and Sequoia Brewery owners and the four Councilmembers. Perhaps most shockingly, before voting to interfere with Adventure Church’s contract to purchase the Tower Theatre, the City of Fresno acknowledged that:

(1) City of Fresno staff had not reviewed nor provided the Councilmembers any Tower Theatre financial information such as budgets, financial statements, revenue reports, or balance sheets; and

(2) neither the four Councilmembers nor City staff have developed any plan to fund the ongoing operations of the Tower Theatre. Not only did the vote of the four Councilmembers inject the City into Adventure Church’s ability to serve the community, they also approved one of the most financially reckless decisions in the history of the City of Fresno.

Adventure Church can only believe the Councilmembers based their decision on the misplaced vitriol a small group of misinformed community activists have levelled against Adventure Church as a largely Latino, non-denominational Christian church that provides religious and community services with open arms to all members of the Tower neighborhood regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or an individual’s past.

Unfortunately, the inexplicable decision of Councilmembers Arias, Esparza, Maxwell and Soria over the opposition of their colleagues Councilmembers Bredefeld, Chavez and Karbassi has forced Adventure Church to pursue litigation against the Tower Theatre and Sequoia brewery owners, as well as the City of Fresno.

Adventure Church intends to file an Amended Complaint for damages naming the Tower Theatre Owners, including Mr. Abbate individually, the City of Fresno and Sequoia Brewery. After filing the Amended Complaint Adventure Church will immediately seek a preliminary injunction to stop the City of Fresno from purchasing the Tower Theatre and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.

Adventure Church regrets that as a result of the irresponsible decision of the 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.”

Listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern.