Public Meeting called to discuss fate of The Senator Theatre

19 May

2009 050

May 19th, 2009-

A public meeting has been scheduled at The Senator Theatre off of York Rd in Baltimore to discuss the theater’s current situation and the city’s part in all of this. From The Senator’s own website:

Senator Calls For Meeting @ The Senator!

The media has reported in error that Baltimore
City now owns The Senator Theatre.

It has also been misreported that The Baltimore
Development Corporation [BDC] will soon choose the
new owner or operator of The Senator Theatre and
determine its future entertainment programming
through the RFP process.

It is our understanding that the ownership of the
landmark Senator Theatre will be determined by the
outcome of an upcoming public auction, expected to
take place later this summer. The successful bidder
at the public auction will own The Senator.

In an effort to separate fact from fiction regarding
The Senator Theatre and its uncertain future,
Maryland State Senator Joan Carter Conway,
who represents the 43rd third legislative district,
has called for a public meeting at the theatre
in response to constituent concerns.

The public information session will take
place at The Senator Theatre on
This Wednesday Evening, May 20th at 6pm

Please help to spread the word!

Senator Conway has invited City and State economic
development representatives to attend. Representatives
of Preservation Maryland, Baltimore Heritage, The
Baltimore City Historical Society, The Commission for
Historic and Architectural Preservation [CHAP] and the
media have also been invited, along with North
Baltimore business and community leaders
concerned about The Senator Theatre.

Scheduled government economic
development representatives include:

– Clarence Snuggs, Maryland’s Deputy Director of
Housing and Community Development, representing
Raymond Skinner, Secretary of Housing
& Community Development.

– Kim Clark, Executive Vice President of The Baltimore
Development Corporation, representing 1st Deputy Mayor
Andrew Frank, Neighborhood and Economic Development.

Topics to be discussed include:

– The State of Maryland’s financial investment in The
Senator Theatre. – State of Maryland’s position in
Baltimore City’s upcoming foreclosure proceedings.
– City of Baltimore’s purchase of the 1st Mariner
mortgage note secured by The Senator Theatre.
– Baltimore City’s public auction process intended
to transfer ownership of The Senator Theatre.

The Senator has become known as “The People’s
Theatre”. Apart from the theatre’s inaugural opening
in October of 1939, the upcoming transition from 70
years of continuous family ownership and operation is
a pivotal event in the renowned theatre’s rich history.

Please mark your calendars and encourage your family,
friends and neighbors to attend the upcoming meeting
at The Senator. For further info visit senator.com or

For further information visit www.senator.com
or senatorcommunitytrust.org

The latest details regarding the ongoing saga of Baltimore’s Senator Theatre have been hard to decipher as of late. I’ve been intending to write a piece ever since the York Rd theater, one of Baltimore’s historic landmarks, closed down as a first run attraction back in March. I attended the first Town Hall meeting, which was conducted only a few days after the theater closed its doors. Varying reports have been flying around via the media and local news outlets as well from people close to Tom Kiefaber(still the theater’s current owner) and The Senator.

It was recently reported that Baltimore City had fronted the money to buy the Senator and then ownership would be transferred to someone interested in running it as an entertainment venue. The Senator’s own website  has attested to the fact that this isn’t accurate, and that while the City has stepped forward, currently, the Senator will still go to auction in a few months. So, far, the only thing that has transpired is that the city’s Board of Estimates voted to spend the money to buy-out the loan the Senator has with First Mariner.  To complicate matters, the city’s CHAP(Comission for Historical and Architectural Preservation) recently voted in favor of a legislation that will prevent siginificant changes to the interior of The Senator. Kiefaber and others have been concerned that with these restrictions, The Senator will be a harder sell for someone who wants to keep it running as an entertainment venue.

While it seems that watching The Senator get turned into a thrift store or a laundromat have been evaded, its coming down to the point where we face two scenarios: museum or functioning, flourishing theater. Since the close and the cessation of first-run films, The Senator has been running a series of classic films, concert films and even a mini-horror convention(complete with guests and indie premieres). From Night of the Living Dead to A Star is Born to The Yellow Submarine–currently playing– The Senator has been putting its giant screen and spacious interior to good use. I think it would be ideal to see the theater continue in a similar vein-running classic films, hosting community events and fundraisers, and premiering smaller independent and local movies. Whats the likelihood of this happening?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ll be in attendance on Wednesday evening, and will report back on the whole thing. Here’s hoping to many long years of The Senator doing what it was intended for: providing a venue for entertainment and film. Hopefully it won’t all be smoke and mirrors and blame games like the last meeting proved to be.

For a more detailed account of the situations so far, check out astrogirlguides, a blog that in recent months has covered fairly thoroughly the ongoing tale of The Senator’s woes.

 

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One Response to “Public Meeting called to discuss fate of The Senator Theatre”

  1. Friends of The Senator May 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm #

    We’ve been trying to keep on top of this as well. Nice to hear from a another Senator Friend! And, yes, we hope this meeting is more fruitful – see you there!

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