Competitors for The SENATOR Theatre Narrows To Two

Both Investigative Voice and WBAL Radio are reporting that both the J.R. Owens and Noch-Noch Productions proposals have been eliminated from consideration in the Baltimore Development Corporation’s (BDC) RFP process that will decide the next owner of The SENATOR.

Investigative Voice quotes their source as District 4 Councilman Bill Henry, while WBAL interviewed BDC President M.J. “Jay” Brodie.

Many who attended the BDC’s Public Meeting earlier this month are probably not surprised at these developments. Given reactions to the presentations the general sense was that the competition would come down to the Cusack’s Senator Theatre, LLC and WTMD/Towson University’s WTMD @ The Senator proposals.

And yet, as it has been pointed out, while they were the most comprehensive presentations there were many questions including why the Cusacks feel so adamant that The Senator could survive returning to first run movies when, for years, many have pointed out to former owner Tom Kiefaber that the era of single screen movie houses is long past. Many of us long for those days, but agree that it is no longer financially feasible.

Crepe shop, restaurant or not, the track record of historical theatres in the US shows that unless you have a large corporation behind you (like with the Uptown in DC) the best chance of survival is to be turned over to a non-profit.

While WTMD offers non-profit ownership (and therefore various funding sources not available to privately owned businesses) many feel it still needs to show it will have the staff capable of running and maintaining the theatre, as well as pull off their multi-purpose venue style proposal. And yes, while FoTS feels WTMD is the best fit for the future of The Senator we agree these points must be demonstrated.

And, both parties still have questions to be answered when it comes to suggested renovations to the historic building itself.

All these questions and more we understand were recently submitted to the BDC, by the appointed Advisory Panel, to be forwarded to the two remaining bidders. While the deadline for the Cusacks and WTMD to respond is not publicly known, given the comment by Mr. Brodie that a decision could be reached by February 10, it follows that said deadline would be several days prior to that.

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