SENATOR Theatre RFP: CHAP Hearing Results

UPDATED (Aug. 13, 2010): Scans of CHAP Staff Report used at the meeting – see bottom of this post.

Yesterday’s CHAP hearing on The Senator Theatre was quite positive!

I want to thank everyone who attended!

It was encouraging to see so many show and endure the wait (the hearing was scheduled for 3pm, but I don’t think we actually got started until nearly 4?), especially the young man who addressed the committee stating (paraphrased):

“I think I may be the only one here not affiliated with some group.”
“I don’t know of anywhere else this [programming plan] has been successfully with an historic single screen theatre, so I hope the City will bring in experts from places where they successfully done something like this.”
“I want to bring my kids to see movies at The Senator, but I need it to be here for a while for that to happen.”

Our overriding concern for expert top-to-bottom evaluation of the building was taken into account and added to the conditions for moving forward with detailed renderings and further study of proposed changes. This was a huge relief! Our suggestion that Tom Kiefaber be included in such an inspection, because of his intimate knowledge of the building and systems was also taken.

Quick rundown of changes proposed by Alex Castro and Joe Adamczyk on behalf of Senator Theatre, LLC (James “Buzz” Cusack and Kathleen Cusack – renters/operators of The Charles Theatre & expected to be likewise at The Senator):

  • The crepe shop is now slated to occupy what is currently (largely) office & storage space. It is no longer destined for the ladies’ areas.
  • The mens’ lounge, while largely preserved would lose significant space as the north wall is proposed to be moved southward about 4ft to accommodate the revised crepe shop location.
    Part of the concern here is that the lounge is within CHAP’s protected areas & the lounge would appear as more of a hallway than a lounge. Either way, the star & moon in the mosaic floor is expected to survive.
  • No new passageways from the rotunda… Restoration was the word of the day for that area (And overall for that matter – for which I am thankful to hear!).
    Tom Kiefaber noted to the committee that an expert inspected the mural recently & suggested that the resulting suggestions for expert restoration be considered.
  • Two new storage closets to be placed against the auditorium’s back wall, right below the mezzanine level’s skyboxes.
  • The proposed Tapas restaurant facade is currently proposed to be 8ft closer to York Rd. “Further study” of this proposed extension was added as a condition to passage.
    It also raised concern about commemorative sidewalk blocks that would be affected. The committee agreed that relocation of the blocks (or alternate plan to save them) be a condition of approval.
  • A 2nd auditorium on the south side with stadium seating is now a ‘front-burner’ plan.

I hope to scan & post the handout we received at the end of the hearing that shows some additional views of the proposed additions/changes. In the meantime, the pre-meeting copy is here (PDF).

Thanks to CHAP chair Mr. Donald Kann and all of the commissioners who were present (I thought the two newest commissioners were especially on the ball, Ms. Anath Ranon and Mr. Tom Liebel).

My thanks to all of the CHAP staff, particularly Ms. Kathleen Kotarba and Mr. Eddie Leon for their cooperation and help in keeping me informed and answering my never-ending volleys of questions.

-Tom Harris

Related mass media reports:

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Tom, I thought they said that the plan was to move the tapas restaurant facade 4 ft closer to York Rd., not 8 feet? Am I misremembering?

    I also didn’t hear them say that saving the sidewalk blocks was a condition of approval, just that they should “try” to save them (which Kathleen Cusack indicated was their desire anyway). It sounded to me like project approval would not be contingent upon saving the sidewalk, since it is not part of the protected landmark area. Did you hear something different?

  2. Stu,
    The 4ft move is to take the Mens’ Lounge north wall southward. They want to extend what will be the restaurant addition 8ft toward York Rd. The concepts description I obtained from CHAP (see “pre-meeting copy” link above) just before the meeting states: Move present front facade to property line, approx. 8′.

    We’ll know for sure once the meeting result papers are sent out (I was told all attendees who signed in will receive these as long as an address was included), but my recollection was that there was a motion to add condition to approval that an alternative to destruction of any blocks be considered, because while the blocks are NOT under CHAP protection, they significantly contribute to the history of the property.

    This CHAP hearing was only to approve the Cusack team’s basic intentions so they could move forward with producing detailed plans that will have to be brought back for final CHAP approval (and then state & federal historic tax credit approval).

    So, my impression is that this sidewalk ‘condition’ was just CHAP’s way of saying we really think you shouldn’t ignore the blocks.

    And yes, my recollection was also that Kathleen Cusack and Alex Castro said they had already considered plans to relocate affected blocks.

  3. […] and Kathleen Cusack’s Senator Theatre, LLC project) officially announcing the results of the August 10 CHAP hearing. Each of the attendees to the hearing was to receive this this document by […]

  4. What are you planning to do for your seating? Our company specializes in the historic renovation of theater seating. We recently completed the Carpenter Center in Richmond VA as well as Dock Street Theater in Charleston SC.

    If restoration is not your plan, we can provide you a wide selection of new seating to choose from.

    If you have any questions or I can be of service please give me a call at 800-803-8880.

    Craig Lane
    Red Hill Distributors, Inc.


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