Thursday, February 7, 2008

leggett's blogger briefing: it's business time

WHAT'S UP THE PIKE: State officials afraid FTA could kill Purple Line; Bethesda delegate wants to save Silver Spring from "public drunkenness" following Fillmore events; Blake High seniors get out the vote.

This is part TWO of a series on County Executive Ike Leggett's meeting with Silver Spring bloggers this week about the Fillmore. Yesterday, we talked about the County's lease with Live Nation.

At Monday night's "blogger briefing," County Executive Ike Leggett suggested that the block of Colesville Road between Georgia and Fenton - recently christened "Skid Row" by Silver Spring, Singular - will never catch up with its neighbors without a project like the Fillmore.

"There is not a single block of land in any business district in Montgomery County - unless there's a downturn in the market, which there is now - that is not being developed," says Leggett, noting that the former J.C. Penney building has been vacant for eighteen years. "If it was economically viable for someone to jump up and do it . . . it would've happened."

Currently lined with small, independent businesses in historic buildings on unassembled lots, the 8600 block of Colesville has been unwelcoming to developers, explains Leggett. In addition, the Lee Development Group, whose signature Lee Building at Georgia and Colesville sat empty for three years after opening, has become conservative about building on the site.

"You have to create something with a public-private partnership," says Leggett. "If it does not go through, what you see now is what will remain there."

"They're [Live Nation] a business group. They're doing it for business, we're doing it for business," he adds. "They see a vibrancy in the Silver Spring area . . . the fact that there is not a similar venue in Silver Spring suggests there's a good market share."

Where's I.M.P. headed after this? so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

A week after County Councilmembers Marc Elrich and Marilyn Praisner railed against the County's deal with Live Nation to operate a music hall on Colesville Road, the County Executive Leggett's office isn't smarting from any blows handed to them.

"At the Council meeting last week, for all its dramatics, people said 'this is a good deal'," says Patrick Lacefield, Leggett's spokesman.

Leggett emphasized that finding the best deal wasn't as important as keeping up appearances. Word of Live Nation's interest in Silver Spring has been public since last July, and the County Executive reiterated that I.M.P. Productions' counter-offer for the venue came on September 24, six days after the County signed a Letter of Intent with Live Nation. That night, the County Executive held a previous "blogger briefing" with Henry, Jen and I at which no mention of the letter was made. When I pointed out that the agreement was not made public until a press conference on the 26th, Leggett insisted that the deal was "no big secret" to people in the music industry.

"There's a developer, a music person out there saying 'we can get you a better deal," says Leggett, referring to I.M.P, owners of the 9:30 Club in the District. "The only question that has developed is 'could we get a better deal?' The answer is, 'yes, if we want to undermine the County's credibility'," he continues. "It's not worth doing that."

I.M.P. is currently looking at other sites in Montgomery County, says Silver Spring regional director Gary Stith, though he was not clear on where. According to I.M.P. spokeswoman Audrey Schaefer, the company had originally considered locating in Silver Spring as early as 2000.


Anonymous said...

If they want to revialize Silver Spring all they need to do is get rid of all those hobos that harrass you like it was Downtown Baltimore. Thats why the upscale customer base doesnt venture outside of the DSS compound. I bet if they shut down the Metro station they would be gone very quickly.

WashingtonGardener said...

And THIS ugly comment above is why anonymous commenting should not be permitted. If you can't sign your name to it - keep it to yourself.