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Senator to close for renovations for at least six months

The historic art deco palace in north Baltimore known as the Senator Theatre has closed — for at least six months.

When it reopens around Christmas time, it will have three new theaters, a restored main auditorium complete with comfy chairs, and a tapas café with outdoor seating, all part of a $3 million facelift that is now underway.

The theater closed this week, showing its last film for the spring, “The Hunger Games,” on Thursday, said Kathleen Cusack Lyon, who co-owns the theater with her father, Buzz Cusack.

Lyon said the movie palace, built in the 1939 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be receiving long-awaited restorations and renovations as created by local design architect Alex Castro. When it reopens, after an expected six to nine-months of construction, it will have smaller theaters for classic films, one of which will seat 120 and two others seating 75 and 70 patrons each.

A new café, to be operated by the owners of Tapas Teatro next to The Charles Theatre in the Station North Arts District, also owned by Lyon and her father, will serve small plate foods and beer and wine in a space formerly used as “the popcorn room” and a now-closed dry cleaners, a Senator employee said. Outdoor seating will be available as the weather permits, Lyon said.

“As far as we’re concerned, it will be a one-of-a-kind theater, a deco theater built in the 1930s and still operating as a movie theater,” Lyon said. “What will make this truly original and a huge asset to the city is that it will be an art deco movie palace that is still playing movies, one of the only ones left in the country.”

Ticket prices will rise a dollar to $10, she added.

Lyon and Cusack received a $300,000 state sustainable communities tax credit from the Maryland Historical Trust this year for the renovations.

The Senator was sold to the city at auction in July 2009 for $810,000 after financial straits by its former owner.


As Baltimore officials continue to attempt to tackle the city’s vacant housing crisis with at least 16,000 abandoned homes, here’s a tale of a Baltimore rowhouse gone bad.

The city’s Board of Estimates this week wiped out all liens, interest and penalties for the vacant and blighted three-story rowhouse at 1816 N. Warwick Ave. in Coppin Heights, a total of $46,714.

That’s because Coppin State University officials say they are planning to add the site into a 10-acre project for a new academic building in west Baltimore.

“The release of liens on the property will make it financially feasible for redevelopment and prevent tax abandonment,” the board’s agenda item states, and the five members, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Comptroller Joan Pratt, City Solicitor George Nilson and Department of Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx, approved it.

Coppin State officials will now purchase the building for $12,300. A Google Maps picture of the address shows a typical Baltimore vacant, boarded-up rowhouse located on an alley with all of its windows broken out and another vacant, boarded-up dwelling next door. State assessment records show 1816 N. Warwick Ave. is owned by Mark Manelli who lives in Reisterstown. Its value is listed at $3,000.


Groundbreaking for the Highland Inn, a new restaurant owned by Milton Inn Executive Chef Brian Boston, is expected to take place Monday in Howard County.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Council Chairperson Mary Kay Sigaty and members of the Howard County Economic Development Authority will join community members at 12857 Highland Road, off of Route 108 near Ellicott City at 11:30 a.m.

The al fresco, casual restaurant is scheduled to open this summer. The farm-to-table menu will feature entrees, steaks and sandwiches in the price range of up to $30. The 191-seat restaurant will be located in a 150-year-old farmhouse that is being gutted and renovated and will include two original countryside and equestrian-themed murals by local artist Sam Robinson. The restaurant is expected to create 75 new jobs.


The new Federal Hill development set to open in July at 1111 Light Street this week hit 100 percent leasing, officials at MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services said.

The milestone was hit at the 24,000-square-foot Class A mixed use building with tenants M&T Bank, 7-Eleven, Betamore, BTS Software Solutions and Red Owl Analytics.

“Federal Hill was the perfect place for a project of this nature, given its close proximity and ease of access to the central business district, its existing amenities, and its overall walkability,” said Arsh Mirmiran, director of development at Caves Valley Partners, the developer. “We’re pleased that we are matched with tenants who believe in the neighborhood as much as we do. These are exactly the types of leaders and companies we envisioned would find the building attractive and couldn’t be happier to welcome this family of companies to 1111 Light Street.”

The development is located across the street from the historic Cross Street Market.
MacKenzie’s Meghan Gill Roy, Jonathan Di Virgilio and Scott Wingrat represented the landlord in the leasings.


Tidbits: BOMI International recently awarded Manekin LLC’s Ruth Gambino the designation of real property administrator for property management. An assistant property manager for eight years, Gambino helps oversee the management of 36 South Charles St., the 25-story, Class A, high-rise office building in downtown Baltimore. She is also a member of the Building Owners and Managers Association and formerly served as property management coordinator at Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse. Gambino joined Manekin in 2007 … Look for a new Walgreens to open in the coming months on the ground floor of a new parking garage on Ashland Avenue on the East Baltimore Development Inc., site in Middle East … The nonprofit housing advocacy group CPHA will hold a public forum on the proposed closing of city recreation centers on May 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at War Memorial Plaza. Mayor Rawlings-Blake has proposed some closures and privatization efforts of existing centers as part of citywide budget cuts.

One comment

  1. Interesting article. The Senator was never a “palace”. A tapas cafe w/outdoor seating? Or a creperie? Or a wine bar? Depends on which article one is reading I suppose. The Cusacks are/were seeking Over $3 miilion dollars and the project is currently over $4 million dollars. Neither Mr. or Ms. Cusack own The Senator Theatre. The Senator closed the day prior to the day they announced closing (unannounced)The Cusacks are not responsible for The Senator having been added to The National Register (for the record)The Cusack have stated they are continuing with a “first run films only” policy. Alex Castro has yet to asknowledge his association with The Senator project publicly.The Cusack have never owned The Charles Theatre. Karzai bagged his interest in The Senator porject a long time ago. The storage area attached to the main building han’t been a dry-cleaner for well over 20 plus years.
    The $810,000.00 isn’t actual dollars spent by the city.