Senator Theatre Auction Countdown: 3 Days

Senator-color-adAs the Wednesday foreclosure auction approaches, we’re still amazed by city officials’ statements – is there hope that we all will come to believe these if they repeat it enough? Perhaps they actually believe it themselves?

Consider today’s Sun article by Chris Kaltenbach.

  • City officials are continuing with the “no one wants to buy it at auction” mantra.
    “several city officials have said it is unlikely anyone would be willing to pay more than $1 million for the Senator given current economic conditions”
  • Perpetuation of the myth that the theatre has been closed:
    “I’d like to see the Senator back open regularly as quickly as possible.” – Councilman Bill Henry
    We wish someone would have told the folks who have been volunteering at The Senator for the past FOUR months!.. Not to mention us, since we’ve been listing special events and films scheduled to place at the theatre!
Mayfair Theatre owned by Balto. City sits in ruin

Mayfair Theatre owned by Balto. City sits in ruin

At least they’ve finally come up with something of an answer to the fact that the Mayfair Theatre fell to ruin under city ownership:

Kimberly Clark, executive director of the Baltimore Development Corp., says comparing the Senator’s fate with the Mayfair’s is comparing apples and oranges. “Our goals are much different for the Senator and the Mayfair. Our goal is for the Senator to remain open, to be a viable theater and be the anchor for the community.”

Apples & oranges?

Let’s see. The Mayfair Theatre was a historic theatre in Baltimore City (the oldest!) and The Senator Theatre is a historic theatre in Baltimore City… The city took ownership of The Mayfair and they plan to do the same with The Senator.

So, we are supposed to believe that their goal is to keep The Senator open and not become a symbol of urban decay as has The Mayfair Theatre?

Yet, have we been given any proof as to why they are so certain that their goal for The Senator will be seen through?

It’s been stated several times that there are parties interested, not in the auction, but in responding to the BDC’s subsequent RFP (Request For Proposals) process – yet none of them will say who these parties are or why we should feel at ease knowing they are interested.

On top of that, if the lure of the RFP is that an entity could lease the theatre, rather than purchase outright… Isn’t that something of a subsidy? The city sure doesn’t get their $1 million back right away… And, wasn’t the reason that changing the ownership to a community-based non-profit operation was labeled NOT VIABLE was that it would require government subsidy??? Yeah, that’s the way we remember it, too (no community stimulus, eh?).

Anyway, we’re back to the same ol’ government transparency questions that arise time and again. If the city/BDC are so sure about this, why not tell us the reasons? Otherwise, we’re left to mull the situation over (and over) trying to make sense of it all.

Some speculations suggest that:

  • The theatre’s weakened state is being exploited to the benefit of some official and/or official’s friend.
    We’ve already seen this subject in Baltimore news recently – And questions about recent CHAP actions could raise eyebrows (officials have yet to answer why these were acted on now rather than after the new owner’s intentions).
  • Officials recognize the significance of The Senator,
    know it has to be saved,
    want the concerned community to believe that indeed it will be saved,
    but HAVE NO proof to give us.

We find neither of these very encouraging.
Can you think of other reasons? Use the Comments form to let us know!


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