SAVING THE SENATOR — Four proposals to keep the movies playing at Baltimore’s historic Art Deco palace
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 06:57
By Alan Z. Forman
A variety of proposals to maintain Baltimore’s historic Senator Theatre as a first-run movie venue met with a mix of support and criticism from community leaders and area residents alike for being short on financial specifics at a “proposal presentation meeting” Tuesday evening at the Art Deco theater.
Located on York Road adjacent to Belvedere Square in North Baltimore, the 70-year-old theater has been under government control since the city took ownership of the property nearly a half-year ago after its long-term operator, Tom Kiefaber, whose family had owned the facility since its inception in 1939, defaulted on his mortgage.
Four proposals to take control of the theater from the city were presented for public scrutiny at the three-hour meeting, two of which met with general audience approval and two of which seemed to be universally criticized as being unspecific and weak.
A fifth prospective bidder, developer David Cordish, who had said previously he was interested in operating the theater as a nonprofit, as a public service, did not submit a final bid.
All four proposals would allow the Senator to continue operating as a movie theater, albeit with a wide range of ancillary uses ranging from the operation of a radio station to Sunday gospel services.
To demonstrate some of the proposed usages, Coppin State University Prof. Enoch Cook III, whose Noch-Noch Productions company envisions for the Senator an eclectic variety of theme-based film offerings mixed with all types of entertainment, presented one of his “team” members, a singer — who apologized for her voice not being up to par because she had spent the day singing at funerals and other venues — to show the various types of music he said the theater could feature.