Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Buzz Cusack Recuses Himself - But Who Is Mr. X?

Last night, the Baltimore Sun's web site reported that Charles Theatre owner James "Buzz" Cusack will recuse himself from any CHAP (Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation) meetings about The Senator.

In another Senator development, a potential buyer who sits on a city board considering landmark status for the building's interior has said he will recuse himself from any discussion of the theater's fate.

James "Buzz" Cusack, who operates the five-screen Charles Theatre, said he will not participate in any debate over the landmark status proposal made by the city's Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation (CHAP).

Earlier this week, Kiefaber said the board's proposal to place the Senator's interior on a list of protected properties, which would restrict changes a new owner could make, threatened to decrease the building's value and scare off potential investors.

If I understand correctly, this changes very little of substance beyond possibly public perception.

Mr. Cusack may not be going to public meetings about The Senator, but who knows what is going on behind closed doors? If Mr. Cusack was involved in the initial discussions that started this CHAP attempt to slap these restrictive controls on the interior of the building, a move that looks very much like a city government attempt to fix the auction price and scare away potential bidders, the damage may be already done. And the Sun did not report that Mr. Cusack won't still bid on The Senator at auction, so I assume he is still possibly interested.

Still, let's assume for a moment that Mr. Cusack is not the prime mover behind the CHAP move. He may not be. My gut tells me that he's not the heavyweight player we're looking for in this questionable move by city government. So who is Mr. X? Who is behind this?

Let's assume for a moment that it's really one of the CHAP commissioners and that it isn't Mr. Cusack. Who do we have left? Does anyone know if any of these people might have a motive to fix the auction of The Senator?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Embry is head of the Abell Foundation---a group that has invested millions in the city.
I'm sure Abell money would be used as part of the city package.

April 09, 2009

Blogger Laura Serena said...

I'm not disputing that the Abell Foundation has invested millions in the city. I do think, however, that sometimes wealthy people and foundations are more interested in making things over in their own image than in funding what is really needed. If Abell money is going to be used as part of the city's package, why wouldn't they avoid a foreclosure auction and help keep The Senator open in the first place? Why wouldn't they help the family that has been protecting and preserving The Senator for 70 years? Instead they're going to enable someone else to take over, who may not do as good of a job? It doesn't make sense.

April 10, 2009


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