Senator Conway’s Senator Theatre Meeting Reveals Bottom Line

[Updated May, 22: video clip added]

We’d like to thank all of the Maryland state and Baltimore city officials who actually came out to the meeting last night to answer questions about The Senator Theatre mess.

We especially thank Maryland Senator Joan Carter Conway for calling the meeting to help the community sort it out.

We encourage folks to read Astrogirl’s take on the overall meeting, but we’d like to convey what we saw as the bottom line, publicly brought to light last night, thanks to a question posed by Kathleen Harris to Tom Kiefaber about the meddling of Baltimore City’s Commission for Historic & Architectural Preservation (CHAP).

Mrs. Harris stood up and asked Mr. Kiefaber, if CHAP had kept their nose out of The Senator could all of this mess with Baltimore City, the State of Maryland and 1st Mariner been avoided?

The short answer: YES.

Why?
Because, as stated before, Mr. Kiefaber was already in negotiations with parties interested in purchasing the theatre (and keeping it as a theatre) when CHAP announced their intentions to impose their unprecedented controls on the interior of the theatre.

Within 24 hours of the CHAP announcement negotiations broke down, because the parties saw this move by the city as a sign that the city (or someone talking to the city) already had plans for the building/property and they weren’t welcome.

Even Kim Clark of the BDC (present as a city representative) stated,

“We thought the CHAP designation was unnecessary and ill timed”.

See/hear for yourself in this video shot by Astrogirl

So there you have it.

The city group meddled, not only without consulting with the current owner, but actually against his wishes and not once, but TWICE. BOTH times scuttling negotiations!

Which is why now the city now must:

  • Use $950,000 ($600,000 collateral already held for the 1st Mariner mortgage & $350,000 from the city’s Economic Development fund) to buy the 1st Mariner mortgage note
  • Take time/spend money to set up & widely advertise their own foreclosure auction.
    At which we hope a theatre-friendly individual/group will outbid the city. If not…
  • Have the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) spend time/money drawing up an RFP to try and find a buyer (or an operator who is willing to lease the theatre)

Sounds like an awful lot to have to go through (and a lot of money spent) when you consider none of it was probably necessary…

Had CHAP left alone (at least until we knew who the next owner would be).

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