Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

Senator Theatre's operators get OK on renovation

Operators of the Senator Theatre won approval from the city's historical preservation board Tuesday to renovate the North Baltimore landmark and expand it with three new screens and a wine bar.

The city's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation approved plans to preserve the iconic, single-screen theater on York Road and to construct two additions that would house a total of three additional theaters and a wine bar with cafe seating.

The additions, which would have stadium-style seating, would accommodate 120 people in one theater along Rosebank Avenue and a total of about 110 people in two other theaters behind the wine bar, which would have an entrance on York Road.

The key approval from CHAP, which requested an additional review of building materials and colors, puts Kathleen Cusack and James "Buzz" Cusack of the Senator Limited Partnership a step closer to their goal of completing the project in about nine months. The Cusacks were selected to run the city-owned venue.

Kathleen Cusack told the commission that the partnership was reviewing bids from subcontractors, working with the Maryland Historical Trust on design elements, and finalizing plans for financing that will include federal tax credits.

"We are very eager to move forward with this project," Kathleen Cusack said.

The developers also have applied for state tax credits that Cusack said were critical to the project. In addition, they are awaiting approval of a $700,000 city loan. That matter was approved by the city's Board of Estimates on Wednesday morning. The board also finalized a lease agreement under which the Senator's operators will pay the city $3,000 per month.

The latest plans were criticized by former Senator owner Tom Kiefaber, whose family owned the theater for more than 70 years before it went into foreclosure in 2009 and the city bought it.

In a letter emailed to CHAP members shortly before Tuesday's hearing, Kiefaber decried plans to convert the theater, saying they would create "a cramped and substandard four-screen film multiplex."

Kiefaber said he was advised by his lawyer not to attend the hearing. A peace order signed by a Baltimore district judge in July prohibits Kiefaber from contacting Kathleen Cusack, who alleged that he assaulted workers at the Senator on July 14.

During Tuesday's hearing, the commission also approved final plans for a three-story office building on a parking lot in the Mount Vernon neighborhood. The structure, which would have first-floor shops and 20,000 square feet of office space on the upper floors, is proposed by property owner and developer Kingdon Gould. Construction could get under way this fall, said Joel Cherington, a consultant for Gould Property Co.


Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad