The Board of Estimates agreed to sell the Senator Theatre to its current operators, despite the objections of its former owner and his supporters.
The deal for the theater, which has been under city control since 2009, would sell the property to James "Buzz" Cusack and his daughter and business partner Kathleen Lyon as Senator Theatre, LLC, who were leasing the property.
The city will provide a $700,000 loan for the project and will hold its $500,000 mortgage. The overall cost of rehabbing the 1939 art deco building is expected to be $3.49 million, and Senator Theatre, LLC has already placed $950,000 in equity into the building.
Comptroller Joan Pratt was the only board member to vote against the sale, and opposed the initial agreement that lead to the lease two years.
"I just think the deal is too generous," Pratt said.
The board consists of Pratt, Mayor Stepanie Rawlings-Blake, City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, City Solicitor George Nilson and Department of Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx Jr.
After the meeting, Rawlings-Blake spoke to the news media and said she thought the deal was good for the city and its residents.
"It was a good deal because it’s a historic landmark that needs to continue to be a viable cultural icon for the city, and I think the Cusacks have a plan that will make that happen," Rawlings-Blake.
Following the meeting, Cusack said the deal was needed to get the financing in place so they could finish the project.
"It will be very nice, it’s going be four theaters and a restaurant," Cusack said.
During the meeting, the theater's former owner Tom Kiefaber objected to the theater being sold to a private company without a public meeting first being held. He said the financing for the project didn’t make sense and question the theater's viability with a new multi-plex opening in Towson.
"They violated a number of legal agreements, they violated what they said to the board before, and if you note, they didn’t respond to any of the legal issues that I brought up, they just simply cut me off at a certain point, which frankly was expected," Kiefaber said. "I just think this thing is probably heading to the courts anyway and it’s important to get these things on the record."