By Chris Kaltenbach firstname.lastname@example.org
5:34 PM EDT, March 23, 2009
Baltimore's 1st Mariner bank, which holds a mortgage of some $900,000 on the 70-year-old North Baltimore landmark, announced earlier this month that it would be foreclosing on the theater, after owner Tom Kiefaber had missed several months of scheduled payments. Kiefaber closed the theater March 15, saying he could no longer meet payroll.
"That's cutting it close," said Laura Thul Penza, an architect and member of the Senator Community Trust, a community group looking to raise the $70,000-plus needed to bring the mortgage current and call off the auction. "We are in the process of planning fund-raisers. There's always hope."
C. Larry Hofmeister Jr., an attorney representing 1st Mariner, confirmed that the auction would be called off if the loan is made current.
Sean Brescia, a local manager and concert promoter who has been working with Kiefaber, said the Senator owner is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Such a filing would forestall foreclosure by putting the Senator's finances under court control.
"We won't hesitate to go the Chapter 11 route, if that is where we need to go," he said.
Both Kiefaber and the trust hope to find either a non-profit capable of operating the Senator in the black, or a private investor willing to buy the theater and keep it operating, most likely as a cultural center.
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