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This is part ONE of a series on County Executive Ike Leggett's meeting with Silver Spring bloggers this week about the Fillmore. Tomorrow, we'll look at how the County came to its decision - and why one block of Colesville Road's sat fallow for almost twenty years.
With the Fillmore a sure thing for Downtown Silver Spring, County Executive Ike Leggett explained what we can expect in the coming years at a meeting late yesterday evening with members of the Silver Spring Blogging Collective. Leggett, who was joined by spokesman Patrick Lacefield and Silver Spring regional director Gary Stith, spoke to Henry from the Silver Spring Scene, Jen from The Penguin and myself at the Silver Spring Regional Services Center at Wayne and Georgia.
Despite calls that Montgomery County has hidden its selection process for an operator for the proposed venue on Colesville Road from the public, Leggett noted that previous County-funded projects were often less visible. "I think we benefit by greater transparency," he says. "In the past, it hasn't been as open . . . [but] we're talking about a community-use facility."
In its twenty-year lease, international concert promoter Live Nation is also required to make several concessions to Montgomery County. When the venue is not booked for an anticipated 70 to 150 events each year, community groups will be allowed to use it. In its marketing, the music hall must refer to Silver Spring as its location, not Washington D.C. It's a major concession for company whose venues have names like "The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater" or "The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza."
so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .
"If you're an important act on the West Coast and you're told 'we have a venue in Silver Spring, Maryland,' you'll say 'where'?" says Leggett. "The answer is 'just outside Washington, D.C.'"
An Arts and Entertainment Advisory Committee will be formed to oversee the Fillmore and other venues in Silver Spring. Last summer, Silver Spring, Singular envisioned command performances based on community whims, but the committee will have considerably less power.
Henry argued that the committee would be mainly composed of older residents out of touch with current music. Leggett joked that the committee would demand that Live Nation "go and book Wayne Newton for a week to make the over-50's happy," but emphasized their limited capabilities. "It's an advisory committee," he says. "It doesn't have the authority to mandate anything . . . they want to create and maintain good will [with the community]."
"Live Nation made it clear: nobody's telling us what acts are gonna play," adds Gary Stith.
The Lee Development Group is giving the building and the land under it to Montgomery County in exchange for the rights to develop adjacent property. In addition to the $2 million Live Nation has pledged for renovating the former J.C. Penney building, the County and State of Maryland are each giving $4 million. That money will be taken out in a bond, not from County revenues, says Leggett, meaning the only actual costs incurred are for yearly interest.
Montgomery County will make over a million dollars from the Fillmore each year, compared to less than half a million in its previous failed arrangement with the Alexandria-based Birchmere.