Theater owners expect resolution of dispute

January 12, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A Govans construction company has filed court papers to foreclose on the historic Senator Theater, but one of the theater owners says cinema buffs need not worry about the future of the city's last remaining art deco movie palace.

"My partner and I fully expect for this situation to be resolved in the near future," Thomas A. Kiefaber, a member of the partnership that owns the 53-year-old York Road theater, said yesterday. "We have taken steps toward satisfying the debt."

"The debt" amounts to more than $562,000 owed to Lawrence Construction Co. by Mr. Kiefaber and his partner, J. Hollis B. Albert III, court records show. The construction company initiated foreclosure proceedings last month against the partners for failing to satisfy the January 1992 obligation.

The Senator Limited Partnership put up the theater as a guarantee on the payment owed on the construction of a commercial building across the street from the theater. "We're running late," Mr. Kiefaber said. "That's basically what it gets down to.

T. Bruce Hanley, a lawyer representing the construction company, declined to comment other than to say he too hoped the dispute would be resolved quickly.

Lawrence Construction Co. was contractor for a 17,000-square-foot "superstore" built in 1991 by the Senator Theater owners for the Staples office supply chain. The store was built on part of a parcel near the theater on York Road that Mr. Kiefaber and Mr. Albert acquired when they bought the Senator in 1988.

Mr. Kiefaber said his partnership's problems stem from a delay in obtaining financing to pay off the remaining debt on the Staples building. Lawrence Construction had set an Aug. 1 deadline for that payment.

"We don't expect [foreclosure] to happen," Mr. Kiefaber said. "The Senator Theater operation itself is a very strong one. We are the highest grossing theater in three states and we don't expect that situation to change as a result of this. If we do not resolve our indebtedness with Lawrence Construction Co. then it could eventually result in change of ownership of the facility, which is why we fully expect it to be resolved and to do that fairly quickly."

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