Baltimore Westside Superblock Developers Granted 3rd Extension Despite Ignoring Preservation Agreement

Baltimore Brew‘s  reports that the City BOE has granted a four month extension to the controversial West Side project, allowing more time to complete their financing and search for tenants, after M.J. Brodie  of the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) stated headway was being made.  On the other hand it appears they ignored Johns Hopkins, executive director of the historic preservation group, Baltimore Heritage who says the “Superblock” developers have not been honoring an agreement on historic preservation.

Considering the recent concerns over the current condition of The Senator Theatre, the portion of the article regarding the planned restoration of Read’s Drug Store, the site of a 1955 Civil Rights sit-in, may be most interesting – and worrisome:

Separately, the city said it would proceed with installing a temporary roof on the Read’s building, whose interior timber framing has partially collapsed from years of water leakage.

The roof, however, is not expected to be installed until late spring or early summer, leading CHAP commissioner Larry Gibson to wonder whether the building itself might fall down. “Demolition by neglect is a specialty in this city,” he said.

An engineering consultant said that was unlikely because the steel beams and exterior masonry walls appeared to be in satisfactory condition. The temporary roof on the city-owned building would cost about $550,000.

Although the engineering consultant makes it sound like demolition is unlikely, it’s hard to ignore that the neglect led to Read’s roof collapse and it’s much more costly to reconstruct as opposed to preventative maintenance/repairs, especially when you’re talking about proper restoration to an historic structure.

The Senator Theatre, Dec. 12, 2011So, while it’s hoped that the City and The Senator’s current operators will see the wisdom of making an honest and visible effort to reverse the effects of deferred maintenance, once again, I encourage those who understand the significance of the internationally recognized Senator Theatre, the last historic, operational movie house in Baltimore City, to sign this online petition:

Let those in control that it’s not just a handful of “historic theatre nuts” (or “sore losers” as some of us have been labeled) who are disappointed with the year-long decline which can no longer be ignored. Former mayor/governor/state comptroller understood the importance of history and our historic buildings. Now the rest of us need to stand up, for the Senator and for Baltimore’s historic Westside.

-Tom Harris


SENATOR Theatre RFP: CHAP Hearing on August 10

Friends of The Senator (FOTS) has been alerted to a hearing called by Baltimore City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) that will review the plans proposed by James “Buzz” Cusack (who rents & operator The Charles Theatre) and his daughter, Kathleen Cusack for renovations intended for the historic Senator Theatre.

Details from the August 10 Agenda via the CHAP web site:

3:00 PM Senator Theatre

(Baltimore City Landmark-Exterior)
(Baltimore City Landmark -Interior pending)
(CHAP Special List-Interior)
Plan: Rehabilitation of exterior and interior-Concept.
City of Baltimore, Owner.
The Senator Theatre, LLC. (James Cusack and Kathleen Cusack, principals), Lessee.

Eddie Leon, Staff Presenter.
The hearing will be held in the Phoebe Stanton Conference Room of the Department of Planning, 8th Floor, 417 E. Fayette Street.

We’re informed that anyone can view the plans in advance by making an appointment with the CHAP office.
(410) 396-4866
(410) 396-PLAN (7526)
Fax: (410) 396-5662

FOTS strongly encourages anyone concerned with the future of the theatre, particularly the planned renovations, to attend this hearing if possible.

SENATOR Theatre: Red Carpet Premiere of SAFEHOUSE Tonight!

Friends of The Senator Present:

Come Join Us Friday, December 4th
for a red carpet premiere evening!

Baltimore native Johnny Alonso’s action packed movie
SAFEHOUSE makes its Baltimore Premiere!
Watch the video promo here!

Tread the Red Carpet with Baltimore’s famous faces,
Johnny Alonso (Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill),
Jonathan Ruckman (The Wire), Sheila Cutchlow (The Wire),
MMA Fighter/Stuntman Orlando Gonzales (Smalltimore)
and many many more local actor faves.

The show’s co-stars include Thomas Calabro (Melrose
Place) and Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco, Sopranos).

Actors, Actresses, and Models: bring your resumes
and headshots! Local Directors, Producers, casting
Directors galore will be in attendance.

Please dress to impress for this Glam Event!

Reception 7:00 pm
Screening 8:00 pm

Movie Admission $10

Stay over for the After Party!

Movie and Party Admission $20

Click here for additional information
and VIP price levels.

SENATOR Theatre: WTMD / TU Proposal Best Fit?

Dear Friends,

Towson UniversityAs you probably know by now the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) has received proposals from four organizations that desire to be the next occupant of The SENATOR. While we have yet had an opportunity to review the details of the proposal (waiting on the BDC to release them), the descriptions of that submitted by Towson University’s publicly supported radio station, WTMD, appear to echo many of the main points we’ve been advocating for The Senator:

  • Use of the theatre as a multipurpose venue
  • Let’s face it, folks. A single screen theatre in this day/age just can’t cut it as a first run movie house. We all have fond memories of seeing new feature films at The Senator, but the modern day financial and contractual realities have shown this model to be no longer feasible.
    That said, film and perhaps even a premiere or more are still in the cards down the road, but to make the most use of our beloved landmark theatre other programming must (and should be) included.
  • Community events
    These have been an integral part of The Senator’s history, although in the past they’ve been limited by the restrictive rules associated with being a first run movie house. Now that those bonds have been cut we have seen and hope to see many, many more!
    Note: stay tuned for announcement of the 19th Annual Holiday Double Feature & Food Drive!

As for the other proposals, see our “Senator Theatre RFP Proposals Info” page for highlights drawn from media accounts.

The bottom line, as we currently see it, is that the WTMD/T.U. proposal is the only one that is a viable contender against the Cusack’s. Their plan proposes to alter the existing auditorium and includes addition of two eateries flanking the theatre which could potentially have a negative impact on existing local businesses. Theatre patrons would be encouraged to stay on the property rather than explore neighborhood businesses. This should be food for thought for the local business owners and the Govanstowne Business Association (GBA).

Now, we would like to know what you think!

Tom Harris, FoTS Ambassador

SENATOR Theatre RFP: 4 Seek Winning Bid

Updated Nov. 23, 2009

The BDC’s Request For Proposals (RFP) closed yesterday at noon.

According an article by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach of The Baltimore Sun, here are the known contenders:

The fourth party is not yet public, but is expected to be revealed Monday.

Particular points of interest to us in this article:

Kim Clark, executive vice president of the BDC, said Friday that there would be a public presentation of the proposals…
“The worst case would be if the public falls in love with one of them, and that one is not financially viable,” she said. “In my mind, that would be horrible.”

. . .

Cordish, who has repeatedly said he “would run the theater as a public service or a trust,” confirmed that he filed a proposal, but did not provide any details.

Last we heard, publicly, from the Cordish group they stated they would only step into the BDC process “if the city is stuck“. Everyone is entitled to change their mind, of course, but the fact that no details are offered causes nearly as much concern as the secrecy of the fourth proposal submission. We will be very interested to see what the Cordish Company has in mind!
. . .

Cusack… would keep the Senator as a single-screen movie theater. But he would also add a restaurant on its north side… and a crepes shop on its south side.

“I’m also talking to a children’s-services provider… about using the auditorium for children’s activities from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., when the theater is closed.” According to Cusack, a triangular area in the southern part of the property contains enough space for another screen… operating it would require a partner who would use that space for other purposes, such as art education.

While the thought of keeping The Senator a single screen movie house sounds wonderful, it’s been shown time and again that the model doesn’t hold up in this day and age… Can a private owner keep it going by renting the spaces out to restaurateurs and educational programs?

Stay tuned & as always, feel free to chime in here and/or on Facebook!

American Ca$ino begins with special screening tonight @ The SENATOR Theatre

Join us Thursday, November 12th at 7:30pm
for a premiere screening to benefit:

The Community Law Center

~ Official Selection ~
Tribeca Film Festival

When you are in Wall Street’s casino,
you play by their rules.

A Leslie Cockburn Film

American Ca$ino

“You’ll never hear an economist explain
derivatives again without thinking of
the woman who walks away from
the camera, weeping, or children’s dolls
splayed out on the floors of
empty homes.”
David Edelstein – The New Yorker

“The lesson of this story: if enough money
is involved, greed trumps morality.”
Stephen Holden – New York Times

This compelling documentary, filmed in Baltimore,
examines how the Wall Street meltdown has
affected the working class.

Admission is $10
(cash only)

Click here for the official movie website

Click here for a New York Times movie review

A panel discussion follows the
feature presentation, with panelists

Robert J. Strupp
Director of Research and Policy
Community Law Center

Anne Balcer Norton, Esq.
Director, Foreclosure Prevention
St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center

Elizabeth Jacobson
former Wells Fargo top producer
of subprime mortgage loans

You must be 21 years of age or older
to purchase alcoholic beverages.
The Senator seats 900 and ample tickets
will be available at showtime.

“American Ca$ino” begins its regular run at The Senator
on Friday, November 13th, for one week only!

Regular Showtimes:

Friday, November 13th & Saturday, November 14th
6 pm, 7:45 pm, 9:30 pm

Sunday, November 15th
2:30 pm, 4:15 pm

Monday, November 16th
6 pm, 7:45 pm

Tuesday, November 17th
6 pm only

Wednesday, November 18th & Thursday, November 19th
6 pm, 7:45 pm

Friday, November 20th
6 pm, 7:45 pm

Missed The Killers Live from The Royal Albert Hall premiere @ The SENATOR Theatre?..

Well, you can still experience
The Killers
in concert
on a huge 40 foot screen & exceptional surround sound!

The Killers Live from The Royal Albert Hall

Now showing thru Wednesday, November 11 @ The SENATOR Theatre!

On July 5-6th, during their 8-country European festival tour, the multi-platinum VMA Award-winning, Grammy-nominated band  performed two historic nights at the legendary Kensington venue.

The Killers Live!
Killers fans will appreciate how faithful LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL is to the band’s sight and sound onstage.

Moreover, the songs cut across all four of the Killers’ album releases,
from their debut Hot Fuss
(”Somebody Told Me,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Mr. Brightside,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine”);
to Sam’s Town
(”For Reasons Unknown,” “Bling (Confessions Of A King),” “Sam’s Town (acoustic),” “Read My Mind,” “The River Is Wild,” “Bones,” “When You Were Young”);
to Sawdust
(”Shadowplay,” “Sweet Talk”);
and Day & Age
(”Human,” “This Is Your Life,” “The World We Live In,” “Joy Ride,” “I Can’t Stay,” “Losing Touch,”
“Spaceman,” “A Dustland Fairytale”).

Friday, Nov. 6th & Saturday, Nov. 7th: 8 PM & 10 PM
Sunday, Nov. 8th”: 8 PM
Monday, Nov. 9th – Wednesday, Nov. 11th: 7:30 PM

Admission $8 (cash only)
You must be 21 years of age or older to purchase alcoholic beverages.
The Senator seats 900 and ample tickets will be available at showtime

The Killers Official Web Site
Live from The Royal Albert Hall trailer in HD

LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL was produced by Jim Parsons and directed by Dick Carruthers, whose credits include The Who Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2000), and long-form live performance DVDs with Oasis, Noel Gallagher, Keane, Van Morrison, Kaiser Chiefs, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith, White Stripes, and many others.

The SENATOR Theatre: World Premiere of The KILLERS Live at The Royal Albert Hall!

Killers-Live@RoyalAlbertSpectacular visuals on the big screen
with amazing surround sound!

On July 5-6th,
during their 8-country
European festival tour,
the multi-platinum
VMA Award-winning,
Grammy-nominated band
performed two historic nights
at the legendary Kensington venue.

Killers fans will appreciate how faithful
is to the band’s sight and sound onstage.
Moreover, the songs cut across all four of the Killers’ album releases,
from their debut Hot Fuss (“Somebody Told Me,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Mr. Brightside,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,””Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine”); to Sam’s Town (“For Reasons Unknown,” “Bling (Confessions Of A King),” “Sam’s Town (acoustic),” “Read My Mind,” “The River Is Wild,” “Bones,” “When You Were Young”); to Sawdust (“Shadowplay,” “Sweet Talk”); and Day & Age (“Human,” “This Is Your Life,” “The World We Live In,” “Joy Ride,” “I Can’t Stay,” “Losing Touch,” “Spaceman,” “A Dustland Fairytale”).

WORLDWIDE PREMIERE: Thursday, Nov. 5th – 8 PM

Friday, Nov. 6th & Saturday, Nov. 7th – 8 PM & 10 PM
Sunday, Nov. 8th – 8 PM
Monday, Nov. 9th – Wednesday, Nov. 11th – 7:30 PM

Admission $8

You must be 21 years of age or older to purchase alcoholic beverages.
The Senator seats 900 and ample tickets will be available at showtime.

Click here for The Killers’ official website
Click here to watch the trailer on YouTube

SENATOR Theatre Halloween Weekend Events!

Friday, October 30th

Halloween Costume
@ The Senator

Baltimore’s Got Talent!

On stage & on the big screen!

If it’s your dream to perform in the spotlight on
The Senator’s stage, it’s time to make it happen!

Join us Friday, October 30th for
our Karaoke @ The Senator contest finale.

All Karaoke performances take place on stage in
the spotlight accompanied by The Senator’s legendary
sound system. Live video of each performance will be
projected in real time on The Senator’s giant screen.

Featuring the latest state
of the art Karaoke system with touch screen song
selection & over 65,000 songs to choose from.

The Senator’s five week Karaoke contest finale
will be Friday, October 30th with an evening
of “Costume Karaoke”.

First place winner $200 – Second place winner $100

Plus prizes donated by area businesses &

Doors open at 7:00 PM
Karaoke at 8:00 – til?

Admission $5 at the door

Bring your ID! You must be 21 years of
age to purchase alcoholic beverages.

Karaoke @ The Senator is presented in
conjunction with Brown Entertainment

* * * * *

“There’s No Place Like The Senator!”

Join us on
Saturday, October 31st for our 13th annual
FREE Fall Fest community screening.

Celebrate the 70th anniversary of two
1939 cinema classics,
The Wizard of Oz & The Senator Theatre!

Presented by:
The Friends of the Senator Theatre

The Wizard of Oz
(1939 – G – 100 min.)

Judy Garland

Doors open at 12:30pm

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
The festival begins with our
traditional kids costume parade across the stage.

1:30 – 3pm.
Free screening of “The Wizard of Oz”

* * * * *

Join us on
Saturday, October 31st at 10 PM

for a Halloween horror double feature!
Special guest appearance by cult sensation
Chainsaw Sally!

Chainsaw Sally and Jimmy O will introduce
the 10 PM feature,
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

Leatherface Lives!

Tobe Hooper’s
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
[1974 – R – 85 min.]

Five friends visiting their grandpa’s old house
are hunted down and terrorized by a chainsaw wielding
killer and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.


The Dead Walk The Earth!

George Romero’s
Dawn of the Dead
[1978 – R – 120 min.]

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies
that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia
SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his
television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a
secluded shopping mall.

Admission $6

* * * * *

Join us this Sunday, November 1st

The Senator Theatre
& Park Vibe

D’Jembe Jazz Jams

Get in on it or all up in it!

Click here for a YouTube clip
of a previous jam session.

Join us from 6 pm – till…

“D’Jembe Jazz Jams” are free form and
open to the public.

Limited percussion instruments provided.
Join us and join in!

Visit for further information and
help spread the word!

SENATOR Theatre Premiere – Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage

Join us
Thursday, October 29th
@ The Senator Theatre
for a premiere screening!

From the creators of the award winning website
Black and Married With comes a
ground breaking documentary set to challenge
negative stereotypes surrounding marriage
and parenting in the black community.

Couples and experts discuss topics such as the
image and portrayal of black marriages and families,
the effect the Obamas will have on marriage in the
black community and the importance of parenting.

Doors open at 7:00pm

Admission Free

* * * *

~ = < [ Friends of The Senator Theatre ] > = ~

If you know of individuals or groups interested
in helping The SENATOR achieve the vision of becoming
the area’s premiere community-based non-profit multipurpose
arts, education & entertainment venue,
please put them in touch with us
as soon as possible!