Hurwitz Takes Another Swing

I.M.P. chief Seth Hurwitz isn’t giving up his hopes of opening a concert venue in Silver Spring, Md., despite a non-binding letter of intent between Montgomery County officials and Live Nation to develop a Fillmore-branded venue at the site in question.

Hurwitz raised the stakes November 5th by sending county exec Isiah Leggett a detailed – and competitive – letter of intent of his own to build and manage a venue in an abandoned JC Penney building in redevelopment.

Leggett rejected the letter the following day, telling Hurwitz that the county is obligated to negotiate exclusively with Live Nation after accepting its letter of intent.

Hurwitz counters that the LOI is explicitly non-binding.

"I.M.P. respectfully disagrees with the conclusion that our proposal is too late or that the County is obligated by law to negotiate exclusively with Live Nation," Hurwitz wrote to Leggett. "The County’s letter of intent with Live Nation is non-binding.

"The letter itself expressly states that neither the County nor Live Nation ‘shall have any binding contractual obligation or liability to the other regarding this matter (including, without limitation, any obligation to negotiate concerning this matter) unless and until formal documentation has been … fully executed and delivered by the parties in their sole discretion.’"

The site in question was the subject of a long negotiation between Montgomery County officials and owners of The Birchmere.

The talks ultimately failed, and soon after the county announced it had accepted the non-binding LOI from Live Nation for a Fillmore. The same day, the Birchmere announced its plan to build instead at the University of Maryland campus in College Park.

Hurwitz delivered a proposal for the site to Leggett, who held a press conference two days later to announce the county’s intention to strike a deal with Live Nation.

With the inclusion of some $8 million in public redevelopment funds at stake for the project, Hurwitz believes the county is obligated to hold an open, competitive process and consider any "superior" offers. Like his.

I.M.P.’s latest offer to Montgomery County includes $15,000 per month rent, double the amount offered by Live Nation. It also includes purchase option rights of at least $10 million or 75 percent of market value compared with LN’s $8 million; a 50/50 share in naming rights royalties, food service and a reduction in the city/county subsidy of $2 million.

It also proposes a capacity of 1,400, down from the 2,000 capacity Live Nation offers.

"We believe your reputation as a fair-minded decision maker entrusted with carefully spending taxpayers dollars suggests you would want to be apprised of an industry-leading, locally based company that shares your goals of making that property a luminous destination for music lovers, a magnet for other businesses, and the pride of Montgomery County," Hurwitz wrote.

The longtime promoter, who operates the Merriweather Post Pavilion in addition to Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club, insists he is not taking an adversarial stance with the county but rather is a resident and local business owner with an interest in how the county spends taxpayer dollars and conducts public business.