By Steve Kilar
The Baltimore Sun
5:53 PM EDT, April 23, 2013
A request by the former owner of the Parkway Theatre for a new condemnation trial was denied Tuesday by Maryland's high court.
A&E North LLC argued that the city should have paid to remove “automobile parts and other assorted junk” stored in the theater before the start of the 2010 condemnation trial.
During the trial, jurors would tour the property to determine its fair market value and A&E “hoped the theater would show better without the junk” — thereby resulting in a larger “just compensation” award for the city's taking of the property.
But the “trial court denied A&E's motion, and the theater was shown to the jury as is, with 'used auto parts and general rummage' piled up from the floor to the balconies,” according to Tuesday's opinion.
A&E claimed the compensation award was too low and the trial's outcome should be voided since the city did not pay to move the junk out of the theater before the jurors' tour.
The Maryland Court of Appeals found that A&E was not entitled to a pre-trial payment to remove the junk. Therefore the condemnation trial, which culminated with the jurors' determination that the building was worth $340,000, was valid.
The redevelopment of the Parkway Theatre, at the corner of North Charles Street and West North Avenue, has been underway for years. The city initiated the condemnation action at the end of 2008. In December, the city selected the Maryland Film Festival as the theater's new operator.
Jed Dietz, the film festival's director, said they are now negotiating with the city to buy the theater and two connecting buildings.
The film festival, partnering with the Maryland Institute College of Art and Johns Hopkins University, plan to open three-screens at complex with a total of 600 seats, Dietz said.
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