Fillmore Plans Unveiled

The proposed Fillmore music hall in Silver Spring, Md., may be a step closer to construction with the announcement of an October groundbreaking and unveiling of venue plans including an adjacent hotel complex.

Lee Development Group hopes to have the Fillmore ready to open in September 2011 if a “very expedited, aggressive” approval and construction schedule go off as planned, according to LDG President Bruce Lee. “A lot is still changing as we speak,” The Gazette of Laurel, Md., quoted him saying.

Negotiations between the developer and Montgomery County officials to bring a music venue to Silver Spring have been ongoing across seven years and two concert promoters – first, the Birchmere and then Live Nation, which eventually struck a deal to manage the venue.

Fillmore plans are to go before the county’s Planning Board March 1 with public hearings expected over the summer. Lee told the paper that approvals and building permits for the plans would be expedited into “massively complex and condensed” six-month timeline.

The conceptual plans reportedly include a three-floor music venue with maximum capacity including standing room of 2,000 people and an option to install seating for events including community meetings, business conference, comedy and children’s performers.

In addition, LDG plans a 189-suite hotel and 224,000 square feet of office and retail space next to the Fillmore site, which Lee agreed to give to Montgomery County in exchange for development approval, according to the Washington Business Journal. The controversial arrangement was finalized four months ago and the transaction is to be completed when the Fillmore is.

The construction budget for the Fillmore is $8 million, the combined amount being provided by Maryland and Montgomery County taxpayers. Once the Fillmore is constructed, the land donation will officially be made and Lee will have 15 years to complete the adjacent hotel and office project.

That project will have to go through the same approval process with the Fillmore as a single project, according to the Gazette.

However, it will not be built until market conditions improve and tenants leased.

“Instead of taking two years to get through approval and another to get building permits, we could walk into the permitting office once we have a tenant,” Lee told the paper. “Montgomery County has a reputation of not being business-friendly and taking too long to go through the process. This allows us to be more competitive because we can move more quickly.”