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

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Reporter Gets Something Right on Senator Theatre!

Adam Bednar of the Messenger, move to the head of the class! A reporter finally got something right on The Senator Theatre. (Sorry to be so snarky, but local media reporting on this issue has been largely dismal.)

Mr. Bednar caught one of the key issues that came up in Senator Conway's meeting last night: even other agencies within Baltimore City government don't like the CHAP board's recent action to list the interior of The Senator on its Special List.

A quote from the article:

Where one city agency sees protection others see interference.

During a meeting Wednesday at the Senator Theater about the historic theater’s immediate future it was clear that the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation made an unpopular decision to place the theater’s interior on a special protective list.

Tom Kiefaber, the owner of the Senator Theatre, Kim Clarke, executive vice president of the Baltimore Development Corporation, and State Senator Joan Carter Conway all called the addition of the Senator to CHAP’s Public Interior Special List a roadblock to the financially troubled theater being sold. Kiefaber owes First Mariner Bank, the mortgage holder, $950,000.

“We thought the CHAP designation was unnecessary and ill timed,” Clarke said.

The special list is a stopgap measure that requires any owner of the theater to seek CHAP approval before it can alter the building’s interior while the Planning Department and the City Council consider whether or not to name it to Baltimore City’s Public Interior Landmark List.

“I perceive (the designation) as a barrier to get the dollars we need for the property,” Conway said.

Kiefaber, during the CHAP hearing last week and during Wednesday’s meeting, said CHAP’s actions scared away two parties that were interested in buying the Senator earlier this year.

Had those negotiations come to fruition, the entire debate about whether public dollars should be used to secure the theater would be moot, Kiefaber said.

The article goes on to note that Councilman Bill Henry, who was not at the meeting, is still in favor of the CHAP actions. Henry claimed he was too busy to come to last night's meeting, but was found just after the meeting at the neighboring Zen West restaurant hanging out and getting a report from other city officials.

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