Met Mortgage to sell theater

Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. said Thursday it has signed an agreement to sell the historic Metropolitan Performing Arts Theater to Spokane residents Mitch and Cindy Silver.

The Silvers have offered $808,000 cash for the theater at 901 W. Sprague Ave.

The sale won’t be final until an auction for the property has been conducted through U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Metropolitan Mortgage filed for bankruptcy protection in February.

Robert Delaney, Metropolitan’s associate corporate counsel, said the Silvers’ offer was the only one the company received for the theater, which is called the Met. But he added, “there are people out there we’re aware of who have expressed interest” in owning the Met and “there very well could be” additional bidders for the property.

Silver, however, said he isn’t aware of any other potential bidders, and he and his wife have begun making plans to operate the theater.

Metropolitan Mortgage’s chief restructuring officer, Bill Romney, said in a statement the company is “excited that a local party has stepped forward to purchase this unique and historic building.”

Metropolitan filed a motion asking for court approval of the sale yesterday. The company expects to receive a court order by mid-September setting up the auction date.

The Silvers first surfaced in April as potential buyers of the Met. The couple own Silver Collector Car Auction in Spokane, a successful vintage car auction business that specializes in exotic and collectible vehicles, as well as Ruby’s on Silver Lake resort.

Mitch Silver said Thursday the couple doesn’t intend to change the theater much, including keeping the same fees the Met now charges.

However, the Silvers will operate it as a for-profit company, and so “would like to see it doing significantly more business,” he said.

Silver said he’s exploring bringing in performances to keep the theater in use five or six nights a week.

“We’d like to see more music performances in jazz, blues and folk. I’ve got lots of irons in the fire,” he said.

During its ownership of the theater, Metropolitan Mortgage subsidized the operations by about $200,000 a year.

Metropolitan bought the former State Theater in 1986 for about $450,000 to $475,000, Delaney said. The company spent another $750,000 renovating it.

Metropolitan “would have loved to have gotten more (for the property) based on what we paid for it and what we put into it, but that’s the offer,” Delaney said.

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