Update: Anthony Flores tells local website that Adventure Church will buy Tower Theatre ‘no matter what’
A follow-up to my coverage this past week of the ongoing saga of the proposed Tower Theatre sale:
The pastor of Adventure Church says he won’t be dissuaded from his objective of buying the theater even after an appellate court on Wednesday reversed a lower court and ruled in favor of Sequoia Brewing, a tenant on one of the parcels making up the Tower Theatre property. The appellate court ordered the sale to remain on hold and declared that Tower Theatre ownership had operated in “bad faith,” for, among other things, overstating the sales price.
Appellate court orders Tower Theatre sale to remain on hold, says theater operated in ‘bad faith’
And: With the neighborhood so opposed, why would Adventure Church want to buy the Tower Theatre?
And: Syndicated Joe Mathews column gets it wrong about the Tower Theatre controversy. Why would the Bee publish it?
And: My Top 20 cultural events of 2021 includes the remarkable fight for the Tower Theatre
This declaration from Flores might dash the enthusiasm of those hoping for a quick resolution, but it looks like the issue will drag on. A jury trial for the Sequoia contract dispute is set for February 2023.
(Yes, a year from now.)
The complicated case ruled on by the appellate court on Wednesday gets down into the weeds of real-estate law, but the gist is that Sequoia Brewing’s efforts to block the church sale are still very much alive.
However, in a masterful display of managing expectations, pastor Anthony Flores told the San Joaquin Valley Sun after the ruling that he had expected all along for Wednesday’s appellate court decision to go in the brewery’s favor against theater ownership:
“At the end of the day we’ll win. I’m not worried. It’s just going to be a longer process. We’ll see them in court.”
Flores was also not deterred by the ruling, noting that Adventure Church will give Sequoia Brewing the opportunity to buy the brewery parcel if the church completes the sale.
“We’re going to buy it no matter what,” Flores said. “I’m not worried.”
For context, here’s the headline in GV Wire last July when the lower-court ruling went in favor of the church. The quote is from Flores:
My thoughts, Part I: I’ll tell you who should be worried: The people paying the legal bills. As The Bee put it: “In the ruling, the judges also said Tower Theatre’s owners are responsible for any relevant attorneys fees accumulated by Sequoia.”
How deep are the pockets supporting the theater and church? Are parishioners scraping pennies to pay legal fees? In the meantime, folks at the Save the Tower Theatre Demonstration Committee tell me some touring bookers and local arts organizations have avoided booking the Tower Theatre “as long as the issue of Adventure Church operating against the best interests of the neighborhood remains.”
My thoughts, Part 2: According to GV Wire, this is the second time a Fresno County Superior Court judge has ordered the lis pendens (literally “notice of pendency of action”) expunged from the sale of the brewery parcel — and the second time the appellate court reversed. Think our local judges have finally gotten the hint?
My thoughts, Part 3: It’s hard to know if the church’s determination is mere bluster — something that most pastors are quite good at — or some deep-pocketed, culture-war imperative coming from anonymous backers. But it has to help that the protestors are organized and vigilant. More than 1,000 people wrote letters to Fresno City Hall in 2021 protesting the sale and asking that the city enforce the zoning regulations that the church is currently breaking. Those kinds of numbers are impressive.