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Senator Theatre set to be sold to Cusack

For sale: Baltimore’s historic gem, the Senator Theatre.

This marquee of the Senator Theatre told the story in 2009 when then-owner Thomas Kiefaber announced that the historic building would close its doors.

The Baltimore Board of Estimates on Wednesday will vote on the sale of the theater at 5904 York Rd. to James “Buzz” Cusack and Kathleen Lyon for $500,000.
Cusack and Lyon, a father and daughter theater management team who also own the Charles Theatre in the Station North Arts District, are also seeking approval of a $700,000 construction loan request from the board for renovations at the Senator that total $3 million.

“It’s a great building. It’s a great neighborhood, and it’s going to be great,” Buzz Cusack said Tuesday.

The city’s spending board approved a rental agreement with the Cusacks on Aug. 25, 2010, after the theater had been bought by the Baltimore Development Corp. at a foreclosure auction.

The former owner, Thomas Kiefaber, whose family had once owned and operated the Art Deco-style Senator, has a restraining order against him that was posted by a Baltimore City District Court judge last month.  Kiefaber was arrested outside of the Senator in mid-August and charged with trespassing and harassing workers.

The theater is under renovation through March 2013.

The Senator opened in 1939. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

State records show the assessed value of the theater is $350,000. Cusack said Tuesday that he and Lyon were paying more than the assessed value after “a lot of conversations with the city.”

“The city is just not interested in having another building,” he said, of the Senator, currently owned by taxpayers.

Cusack said ownership will also help gain financing for the renovations. Three new screens will be added, for a total of four, at the Senator, as well as a restaurant.

“It does provide collateral for lenders,” he said.