Save Tower Fresno
(July 22, 2022) AND IT IS COMPLETED! The City closed escrow on the Tower Theatre today according to a press release by Council members Arias and Soria. View the press release here. Our deepest gratitude goes out to everyone in the Tower District community, near and far, who supported the #SaveTower movement with your presence at demonstrations, donations, letter-writing, signatures, and advocacy at city council meetings and to people all over the city. We are a community of our own choosing and who live life by our own lights. Together we burn bright!
The city ownership of the theatre will create zoning carveouts for a wide variety of assembly (including commercial assembly, religious assembly, and public assembly) at the Tower Theatre, accessible to the ENTIRE community equally, with no one group operating in perpetuity, WHILE preserving the rest of the zoning and liquor licensure of the neighboring businesses.
Next steps: The City will need to work out how to best to manage the theatre as a positive investment for the City of Fresno. We will be advocating for community involvement and oversight of the running of the theatre for the benefit of the entire community - including arts non-profits.
(May 2, 2022) Mayor Dyer announced that he does not have the power to veto the City Council's purchase of the Tower Theatre. The City's deal will now likely go through. Escrow on the deal is set to be 45 days.
(Apr. 21, 2022) City council voted 4-3 to complete the purchase agreement for Tower Theatre. The deal includes purchasing the theatre for about $6.4 million, an interim management agreement with Tower Theatre Productions for one year ($100,000), and indemnification from lawsuit for the theatre owner and Sequoia Brewing Company. Sequoia's parcel will be separated from the block and sold to the Brewing Company. Adventure Church has said they will pursue legal action, but as of yet a suit has not been filed.
We're fighting to save the Tower Theatre and the Tower District
The Tower Theatre, an original 1930s Art Deco movie palace beautifully restored as a performing arts center, is the anchor of Fresno’s Tower District, a vibrant queer-affirming mixed-use community centered on nightlife, the arts, and anything-goes nonconformity.
Adventure Church has been trying to buy the Tower Theatre since late 2020. So far they haven’t succeeded in buying the theatre, but the church has been holding Sunday services at the Tower Theatre, in violation of City of Fresno zoning ordinances.
If Adventure Church succeeds in buying the Tower Theatre, if the theatre is rezoned for use as a church, or if the church continues to operate illegally in defiance of zoning law, this will harm Tower District bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, which are the foundation of the neighborhood’s economy, property values, arts scene, and community life.
We are raising awareness, communicating to our city leaders, and advocating for Tower District zoning
that supports our neighborhood's arts, culture, nightlife, and community.
Why we've been fighting:
1. Under Fresno City Zoning ordinances, community, and religious assembly are prohibited at the Tower Theatre. However, Adventure Church holds Sunday services at the Tower Theatre, in violation of zoning law, and the City of Fresno refuses to enforce the zoning law. In effect, the church has obtained a de facto rezoning of the property, without any of the public hearings, comments, or scrutiny involved in a legal rezoning process.
2. If the Tower Theatre is rezoned for use as a church, this will create a sensitive use area around the theatre. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control may forbid liquor licenses within 600 feet. City of Fresno ordinances is even stricter, prohibiting liquor licenses within 1,000 feet of a church. This wouldn't shut down existing bars, but it would prevent new bars from opening or transferring bars to new owners.
3. Prohibiting new liquor licenses within 600 to 1,000 feet of the Tower Theatre will be economically devastating to the Tower District. The heart of the neighborhood economy is bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and nightlife. This won't just affect bar and restaurant owners — this will reduce home values throughout the Tower District.
4. Adventure Church is a conservative, non-gay-affirming church out of touch with the community values of the Tower District. The Tower District is the one LGBTQ+-affirming neighborhood in the entire San Joaquin Valley. The Tower District has been the center of the queer, bohemian, nonconformist, arts, and music communities for decades because of the neighborhood's acceptance without judgment of all people. Since Adventure Church has been operating out of the Tower Theatre, they have attracted the presence of dangerous right-wing hate groups who claim they're defending the church. Hate has no place in the Tower District.
We greatly appreciate the support of Towerites near and far. Donations go toward insurance for our demonstrations, and for public awareness campaigns around this issue on a long-term basis.
Please note: Donations are managed by the Fool's Collaborative, a 501 (c) 3 which acts as our fiduciary sponsor.