Call for experts to guide Senator Theatre RFP process

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Subject: Call for experts to guide Senator Theatre RFP process

Dear Honorable Mayor Rawlings-Blake,

As a friend and admirer of Baltimore's legendary Senator Theatre, it's encouraging to learn that you and your mayoral administration represent a new generation of municipal leadership, ushering in an era of transparency, trust and integrity.

The future of the renowned Senator Theatre will be determined on your watch, and your legacy as Mayor will be intertwined with the rich history of "Baltimore's Premiere Showplace," as the redevelopment process for the landmark theatre comes to fruition. In this historic instance, you have a fortuitous opportunity, as Mayor, to lead the city's evolution above and beyond a nagging perception that casts Baltimore in a negative light, as hostile to a progressive view of historic preservation as the foundation of enlightened economic development policy.

A controversy is brewing, though, over The Senator Theatre RFP process, being conducted by The Baltimore Development Corporation(BDC) under a shroud of secrecy and back room intrigue. In the field of historic preservation nationwide, the BDC is well known for its outmoded stance regarding preservation issues and its leadership's repeated failures to recognize that the progressive economic redevelopment paradigm in historic cities like Baltimore shifted away long ago from the agency's failed conventional model.

It's therefore not surprising that the BDC's flawed Senator RFP selection process lacks the critical objective expertise and transparency required for a high-profile, historic redevelopment project that involves a million dollar investment in taxpayer funds. It is a situation that must be rectified.

A primary concern at this juncture is the BDC's refusal to seek the active involvement of objective historic theatre redevelopment and film exhibition professionals to contribute their invaluable expertise to the Senator Theatre RFP selection process. Experts who have led and completed similar successful historic theatre redevelopment projects in other cities must be utilized in the Senator RFP process in Baltimore City, or the outcome may prove disastrous for The Senator Theatre and an embarrassment to the professional credibility of all involved.

I concur with Baltimore Heritage, The Friends of The Senator (FOTS), The Theatre Historical Society of America (THSA) and the other historic preservation organizations that the BDC's stranglehold on the process is unacceptable, and their invalid methodology has tainted the integrity of the selection process. It is an alarming situation that must change, if the final decision that you are expected to endorse to hopeful constituents and the nation's historic preservation community is to have validity.

Your ascension to Mayor and your policy statements have raised hope for a systemic change in policy that embraces judicious historic preservation of Baltimore's irreplaceable built environment as the very basis of its economic and cultural viability. This dire situation with the Senator RFP process demands your personal attention, Madam Mayor, or the rising controversy may cast an unfortunate shadow over public perception of your new administration's leadership and resolve.


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