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Baltimore Officially Sells Senator Theatre

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- After several years of financial problems and controversy, the city officially sold the historic Senator Theatre to its current operators Wednesday.

Monique Griego has more on their plans to update it.

The Senator is currently closed for renovations. Wednesday, the new owners said they plan to keep its historic integrity while adding more screens.

A throwback to the way movies were, Baltimore's historic Senator Theatre prided itself on being one of the last single-screen movie houses. But in recent years, financial problems almost turned its lights out for good.

"I've been here through its glory, its demise and hopefully glory again," said Anne Costlow.

Ann Costlow, who owns a business in the neighborhood, has followed all the theater's ups and downs---the most recent of which came Wednesday, with the city selling the site for $500,000 to its current operators, James Cusack and his daughter Kathleen. They've already started renovations.

The Cusacks plan to use city and bank loans, plus historic grants, to pay for $3 million in upgrades, including three additional movie screens and a wine bar.

"We think it's going to bring a tremendous amount of business just to the corridor. Lots of people around," said Costlow.

Back in 2009, the city bought the theater after its previous owner, Tom Kiefaber, went into foreclosure. Wednesday, he showed up to fight the sale.

"It was something that belonged to the citizens until this morning's hearing," said Kiefaber. "They had an obligation to go to the citizens in order to get their opinion."

Despite the controversy, people can't wait for this Baltimore landmark to be brought back to life.

"It just brings back memories from the good old days," said one resident.

"We just love this theater and it will be great to see it up and operating," said another.

The Cusacks say the Senator should reopen next March or April.

Kiefaber, the previous owner, was recently accused of harassing the Cusacks. He faces several charges.

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