June 25, 2010

Ladmark Bethesda Theatre faces foreclosure

After efforts to revitalize the debt-ridden Bethesda Theatre failed, the historic Wisconsin Avenue landmark is to be auctioned as a mortgage foreclosure Tuesday. The 1938 theater, owned by the Bethesda Cultural Alliance, has a $4 million debt, said Steven A. Silverman, director of the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development.

The department, a board member of the alliance, is tasked with financial and operation support of the theater. The alliance was formed by the Bozutto Group after the theater reopened in 2007 following the developer's $12 million rehabilitation of the theater. Bozutto rehabilitated the theater in conjunction with development of The Whitney, an apartment complex above the theater, and the alliance includes Bozutto executives.

Silverman's team recently began to solicit a management company to contract with the alliance to run the theater. The alliance met Monday to review 12 proposals but none appeared to be in a financial position to absorb enough of the debt, he said. He added that after foreclosure, there will be an opportunity "to either work with the successful bidder or work with the bank to keep it open as a viable theater." SOURCE: Gazette

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