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Sad to report that The Ambassador caught fire around 12:30 this morning http://www.wbaltv.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/Crews-battle-fires-at-historic-movie-theater-row-home/–/10131532/15410282/–/dn95c2/–/index.html No word on the cause of it as yet.
RedDawg: A Balto. Sun article from Saturday was brought to my attention (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-kelly-parkway-20120321,0,6286973.column) this morning. It reminded me of another article about the theatre from Sept 2008 that may interest you, regarding the city taking the property from owner/renovator Charles Dodson: “BDC To Seize Parkway Theater On North Avenue” (http://www.examiner.com/politics-in-baltimore/bdc-to-seize-parkway-theater-on-north-avenue). In retrospect the comments as well as the article could raise an eyebrow or two.
I saw The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, there in 1980.
Hope? I guess you can… But consider today’s Baltimore Business Journal article, “BDC back Charles Theatre operator’s plan for Senator”(http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2010/04/19/daily32.html):
They continue the SAME programming model that got Kiefaber in trouble.
On top of that, it’s possible he may also get the $600,000 ‘guarantee’ the city had already invested in ownership of the theatre – perhaps more… That’s more public funding than Kiefaber ever got!
Sorry, but given all this – hope to me, would be for the mayor to say, “Thanks, but no thanks, BDC. Start over. And this time, get hands-on historic theatre preservation & exhibition expertise to make sure you do it right.”
The BDC would like everyone to believe they’ve done the right thing, but the justification in Brodie’s letter is a sham, IMHO. He cites John Bell, but doesn’t tell anyone what the man said. We now know for a fact his responses did not favor the only plan left on the table… The question now is will the BDC start over (as they should – with hands-on guidance from experts) or try to sell the mayor on the remaining plan, because that’s all they have in hand? View link
More than a dozen organizations attended Monday’s Pre-Proposal Conference, hosted by the BDC on the theatre’s 70th anniversary.
Attendance was not mandatory, so others may also be interested in submitting a proposal.
To see who we know did attend visit: View link
The BDC is expected to post answers, on their web site, to questions posed at the meeting (or sent to them by close of day on Tues., Oct. 6) by Oct. 13.
Kristen Mitchell has informed me that The Senator doors will open @ 9 AM Monday for the Pre-Proposal Conference and the BDC “will be providing some form of early morning refreshments!”
So, RSVP by Friday 10/3 and on 10/5 come early, tour the building, have a bit of a nosh and meet other parties interested in the future of The Senator!
The RFP “pre-proposal conference”, an informational meeting, will be held on the 70th anniversary of the theatre’s opening, October 5th. Next Monday, 10AM at The Senator Theatre.
Interested parties (or their representatives) should RSVP their attendance to:
BDC Senior Economic Development Officer
4 days to the auction.
The Senator is screening a digitally restored 35mm print of Akira Kurosawa’s RASHOMON!
Delivered unto the silver screen by veteran professional projectionist Bill Hewitt – A must see IMHO.
Baltimore: A City of Theatres short film (2 versions) http://vimeo.com/user1789788
Goes under the gavel in about 20 minutes… Hoping beyond hope (as I am for The Senator – auction 6 days away) that some theatre-friendly entity picks this up.
Alex Cooper Auctioneers, Inc., has the official auction info page now: View link
My thanks to Senator Joan Carter Conway for her handling of last night’s meeting. Many interesting discussion points were raised this time around.
I believe many who attended last night were stunned when my wife (after listening to a lot of the discussion) bluntly asked Tom Kiefaber if Baltimore City’s CHAP group had kept their noses out of The Senator, none of this mess with the city would have been necessary? And, the short answer was, “YES”.
Kiefaber stated he was in negotiations with 2 seperate prospective buyers when CHAP announced their intention to apply controls on the theatre’s interior. Within 24 hours, both negotiations evaporated.
So, now the theatre will go to foreclosure auction (as I recall the city solicitor stated) in about 2 months. Baltimore City plans to purchase the 1st Mariner note this Friday, May 22nd. City officials also promised that the would be widely marketed, but they do not expect anyone to bid more than the city’s minimum of $950,000.
IF that turns out to be the case, the next step will be for the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC) to formulate an RFP for a new owner or leasing operator.
The 1st Mariner auction is indeed canceled, however, as part of Baltimore City’s plan they will also hold a public foreclosure auction!
Instead of a $350,000 reserve, the city’s auction reserve will be $950,000.
Strategy Group recommendations were dated March 31. No response from city hall since then.
The auction countdown continues… Now only 8 Days left.
Public C.H.A.P. hearing is this Tuesday.
Anyone else find it odd that James “Buzz” Cusack is identified as a potential bidder for property and also serves as a commissioner on the Baltimore Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and that said group has an application (apparently not submitted by the current owner) which would designate the interior of The Senator as a â€œLandmarkâ€ and add it to their â€œPublic Interior Special Listâ€?
As I hear it, if approved, it would mean no owner of theatre could make changes to its interior without an okay from CHAP.
Does this sound fishy to anyone else?
The meeting was long and, I believe, lost focus.
Once I thought it over, there appears to be two things that must happen in order for The Senator Community Trust to still have a crack at becoming the non-profit owner & keeping the theatre off the auction block:
Everyone needs to contact Maryland elected officials (federal, state & municipal) and insist they convince First Mariner to delay the foreclosure so they can raise funds to bring the mortgage current ($70k).
Donations. They’ve set up their own site with a Paypal button (http://thesenatorcommunitytrust.org).
From what I understand, these have to be successful for egotiations with the city to continue.
Mr. Kiefaber has released a press release today:
“SENATOR THEATRE FORCED TO CLOSE, ROTUNDA TO FOLLOW"
So tonight’s meeting may also be our last chance to make a case to the city to save the place from the auction block.
Mr. Haas, I define a “vulture” as anyone who awaits the failure of another in order to make a profit off the remains.
As far as continuing the theatre as a first-run movie house, I’ll say up front I’m no theatre manager, but from what I’ve heard from many and I think Mr. Kiefaber has shown is that game plan alone is a recipe for failure. I agree with him and many others that the multi-purpose entertainment/education prospect is the way to go. Live performances, recitals and movies (new & old), etc.
I hate to see Mr. Kiefaber go. Say what you may, I think the man and his staff have done a Herculean job of keeping The Senator going this long. But he did agree to a city deal in which he would hand over the keys to a non-profit, which is key in differentiating this situation from the one in early 2007.
Tonight’s Town Meeting (7pm at The Senator) may be the community’s last chance to get 1) the straight story and 2) voice their opinion on the issues. If you’re in the Baltimore area tonight, come on over and hear/see for yourself!
My impression is that, although Kiefaber has already agreed to step down, a call for donations would attract more of the “Tom’s asking for money again” backlash.
Might be a different story IF the city had accepted The Senator Community Trust’s (SCT) offer to be the non-profit owner. They would need to raise serious cash and quickly.
New story today shows the vultures are already circling… Or, have they been, but this is the first anyone’s noticed? View link
BTW, everyone is invited to Monday night’s Town Hall Meeting at the theatre, hosted by the SCT at 7pm. If you’re in the area and care what happens to the place, this may be the last chance to have your voice be heard. Elected officials have been invited… Don’t know if they’re coming though.
Thanks for posting this, JodarMovieFan!
I’ve added some more news links to the Friends of The Senator blog this morning that provide more information.
After reading and comparing stories, I’ve begun to wonder if the city’s stance is actually what they’re attempting to project.
The owner publicly stated some time ago he’s accepted the city’s offer to pass ownership to a non-profit. A non-profit has stepped up, but the city says it won’t work… And appears to blaming the owner?!
I am heartened as well, vlad!
However, I am also careful not to be elated.
I heard early last month that the city formed a transition steering committee, but since there’s been no official news from them.
It’s my impression the the newly formed SCT LLC is a response by community leaders to the lack of any apparent action, knowing that the theatre’s debt is threatening imminent closure.
If these two groups can’t get together and agree on a transition plan that the city will approve ASAP, it’s likely the bank will foreclose and place the property on the auction block.
This has grown into a weekend-long event known as The Senator Sessions. Four sessions of performances with various groups/styles from Friday, February 13th through Sunday the 15th.
Full list of sessions, performers and links to tickets can be found here: http://www.senator.com/senator18.cfm
That is my impression as well, Mr. Haas.
In answer to the others:
I have word from his staff, gentlemen, that the man has forgone cashing his own paycheck for the past 20 weeks!
Anything else you’d like to insinuate?
I thought this was a site in support of theatres.
I’d like to thank those folks who have offered constructive opinions and suggestions.
I’m not familiar with how non-profits are run (but I expect an education is coming)…
And, I’ve never run a theatre.
From my perspective, Tom K. and his staff not only try to do whatever it takes to keep the place going (http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2008/03/17/story3.html?q=senator%20belvedere%20square), but they’ve given back to the community time and again by hosting charity events like this November’s annual double-feature holiday food drive that brings in loads of foodstuffs for the local GEDCO “CARES” Food Pantry.
He’s also partnered with local businesses in efforts to revitalize the area:
My impression is that by turning operation over to a non-profit group not only would the place would be eligible for the breaks that come with that, but the man who suffered donations in early 2007 for the sake of the theatre wouldn’t have to endure that again…
I mean, I can imagine at some point you have to get tired of trying to make people outside of the community see the worth of the place and what it represents. Especially when some of the area’s narrow minded media and officials make it into, “Oh geeze. Tom’s got trouble with The Sentor again, anybody wanna save him?” and don’t see it’s not about him or the just the building. Anybody think the neighborhood or local businesses will be better off without it? I’ve never felt that he’s asked for a personal bailout. He’s tried to ensure the doors stay open so that everyone can continue to benefit from its presence.
Anyway, at this point in the game I won’t be surprised if it’s The Senator’s hardcore fans and community, rather than anyone with deep pockets or ‘connections’, that will help determine if the doors remain open long enough to even see the a summer 2009 title hit the screen.
I can’t speak for the younger generation’s tendencies to mall multiplexes, but nieces and nephews I’ve introduced to The Senator “experience” are among the theatre’s biggest fans even though they live ½ hour or more away.
Frankly, The Senator is the only place I’ve never had a problem trying to watch a film. I’ve encountered repeated nuisances on up to outright ridiculousness during screenings at the area multiplexes.