We will attempt to follow information gathered regarding the four respondents to the BDC’s RFP for The Senator and their proposals here. Source links will be included where available.
Expect updates as we find/are directed to them.
Last update: January 6, 2010, 8am (commentaries by T. Harris, FoTS Ambassador)
The Lofts at The Senator
Developer/Operator: JR Owens, president of JR Owens Corp.
Tom Harris (FoTS Ambassador): As was pointed out at the Jan. 5th public meeting, he’s not interested in anything but saving the theatre and he believes that means building a mixture of apartments and retail space around the sides and back of the theatre. Personally, I found the concept renderings detracted from the beauty of the theatre and frankly, as another attendee noted, this plan leaves out the heart of the matter and the theatre itself- what should go on inside the theatre.
- “Dual aim” to bring new people into the Senator’s neighborhood via 24 rental apartments & “stopping the decay” of local business by continuing first-run movies – MD Daily Record
- A native Baltimorean who manages dozens of rental properties in Mount Vernon
- His design would maintain the facade, the front entrance & the interior of the theater while constructing apartments in the rear of the building with parking beneath. – MD Daily Record
- “I grew up living up the street from the Senator. … Destroying the theater or not using it as a theater would be negative to the community” – MD Daily Record
- The Cusack’s stated at the Jan. 5th public meeting that they would continue to show 1st run films at The Senator, not make it an art house theatre.
T.Harris (FoTS): As much as I’ve loved seeing 1st run movies at The Senator and have dearly missed that, I cannot buy into the belief that, given the financial realities and contracts involved with 1st run exhibition, the Cusack’s would fare better than Keifaber. For that matter, recent news stories have shown that even the multiplexes have not been doing well! My fear is that in a few years time, we’ll be revisiting the threat of The Senator closing. I wish it otherwise, but I think a more viable plan is called for.
- Single Screen.. Perhaps double
- The Senator to be kept as a single screen theatre – Balto. Sun
- Plans to reduce the main auditorium to 760 seats in order to construct a new additional 120 seat auditorium. Apparently this was misreported – the seat reduction would be due to replacing the existing seats with larger, “more comfortable” ones.
“If you have a second screen and you have a movie that isn’t making a lot of money, you can move it there and put something else on the main screen.” – Kathleen Cusack
– MD Daily Record
- Plan to flank The Senator with a crepes shop and restaurant, similar to the situation at The Charles Theatre. – Balto. Sun & MD Daily Record
Note: Rumor According the public presentation on Jan. 5th, the crepes shop would be installed where the current ladies room is located.
- Cusack consulted Alex Castro, an architect who worked on the Charles’ renovation & building design for the American Visionary Art Museum. – Balto. Sun
The Theatre Project PUPKIDS, Inc.
Developer/Operator: Noch-Noch Productions (Enoch Cook III)
Tom Harris (FoTS): In short, while a well intended mission and open-arms policy toward a multitude of programming make this a nice idea, I don’t believe this plan, alone, would support the theatre’s future. There was simply not sufficient evidence of theatre management, scheduling or financial expertise given in the presentation.
- Wants to rent, not buy The Senator – Balto. Sun
According to his Jan. 5th presentation, Mr. Cook intends to rent with the option to buy later.
- Proposes live performance & “cinematic offerings in the style of vaudeville revue-type show” in hopes of attracting interest in puppetry & puppeteers – MD Daily Record & Balto. Sun
- Will also be receptive to “all manner of live performances, reflecting his own background as a theatre manager for Baltimore’s Arena Players and an equestrian clown” – Balto. Sun
- Mr. Cook teaches theatre management at Coppin State – Balto. Sun
WTMD at The Senator
Developer/Operator: Senator Theatre Redevelopment, LLC (Towson University, Robert L. Caret, president)
General Contractor: Whiting-Turner Construction
Tom Harris (FoTS): I believe this plan to be the best fit for The Senator’s future. It adopts the vision that has proven itself time & again in other historic theatres across the country. That of a nonprofit-owned, community-based, multipurpose arts, education & entertainment venue. The diversified programming would attract more than just movie-goers (yes movies, including the occasional 1st run are included!) to North Baltimore, exposing local businesses to a multitude of potential new clientele. The biggest problem I see is overcoming what some residents fear is a “college-town invasion”, but those who paid attention to the sampled daily programming would see that it caters to a much wider audience. Note: Mr. Harris is employed by TU, but not by WTMD and has had no input whatsoever in the WTMD/TU proposal.
- Towson University’s member supported radio station at 89.7FM is part of the University Advancement – WTMD
- Transform The Senator into “a multiuse film and concert theater that would also house the station’s studio and offices. Film retrospectives, gala premieres and themed movie festivals would be showcased in the same place as musical artists” – Balto. Sun, echoed inMD Daily Record & The Towerlight
- Would also include
- Children’s programs and fundraisers for community groups – Balto. Sun
- Multimedia creations of TU’s Electronic Media & Film students and College of Fine Arts, bringing their “exciting” work to a larger audience and provide “a much more ‘real-world’ experience for talented kids.” – Balto. Sun & echoed in The Towerlight
- WTMD’s video presentation from the January 5th public meeting:
- CLARIFICATION NEEDED:
- TU’s Director of Marketing, Ellen Stokes has been involved in the proposal & sees it as a way to open up University programs to the community & increase their visibility. She sited a series of family-oriented morning science lectures sponsored by the Hackerman Academy of Mathematics & Science named Saturday Science, a program that currently performs each Saturday on the TU campus.“If we could move that kind of activity down to the Senator, [they] could reach more people,” Stokes said. “You’ve got a known destination; people know the Senator. They know how to get there and they know where to park.”“The University’s metropolitan mission is all about getting into the community and sharing resources with the community, and it’s just a wonderful embodiment of the University’s mission.” – The Towerlight
- University officials said last week the station would anchor a venue that would feature everything from film festivals and possibly film premiers to school choir performances, educational activities and live concerts for music lovers in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
– Baltimore Messenger
- “We look forward to keeping it a community gathering place, a place that’s open all day, every day,” said Marina Cooper, spokeswoman for Towson University. – Baltimore Messenger
- If selected, it is estimated that it would be 18-24 months before The Senator would reopen under TU management. – The Towerlight & Baltimore Messenger
- LINK: WTMD blog announcement & comments
NOTES: BDC & Baltimore City Official comments
- The Senator’s survival is “extremely important not just to that area of Baltimore, but the city as a whole.”
“The Senator has always been, and we hope it continues to be, an anchor in that area of the city. We just have to put some lipstick and hair spray on her.”
Kimberly Clark, BDC Executive Vice President – MD Daily Record
- “What I’d like to see go in there is something that continues to keep the Senator Theatre the economic heart of the York-Belvedere area.”
“It has been our anchor business.”
Baltimore City District 4 Councilman Bill Henry – MD Daily Record