The Fillmore Silver Spring breaks ground!

Montgomery County News Release
For Immediate Release: 9/2/2010

Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Fillmore Silver Spring; Opening Set for 2011

The latest star in Silver Spring’s arts and entertainment crown was forged today when The State of Maryland, Montgomery County, Lee Development Group and Live Nation held a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the long-awaited new music hall, Fillmore Silver Spring. Several hundred people gathered on the construction site off of Fenton Street, behind the historic J.C. Penney façade on Colesville Road, as County Executive Ike Leggett, Maryland Lt, Governor Anthony Brown, Lee Development Group (LDG) President Bruce Lee and Live Nation’s DC President, Ted Mankin turned the first shovels of dirt to begin construction of the Silver Spring Fillmore set to open in the Fall of 2011.

“This music, entertainment, and community-use venue is the right project, in the right place, at the right time for the County and State in general and the Silver Spring community in particular,” said Leggett. “The Fillmore is an investment well worth making. It activates a vacant storefront and makes money for the County and the State from the start. This exciting venue will create jobs and stimulate more Silver Spring business activity – as well as deliver great music. That’s especially important in today’s economy.

“And, being right across the street from the American Film Institute and down the street from Discovery Communications, we are looking to create a synergy that will result in premier entertainment happening in Silver Spring rivaled by few other places,” added Leggett.

“This is a long-awaited and exciting day in Silver Spring and across Montgomery County. Governor O’Malley and I applaud the tireless efforts that were put in to making this project a reality and we are proud that the State contributed $4 million,” said Lieutenant Governor Brown. “We both look forward to joining our neighbors in Montgomery County at concerts as soon as this new venue opens. This project will help promote the arts in one of the state’s most diverse and dynamic communities. Perhaps more importantly, it will create new jobs and continue to build on the tremendous economic progress that has made Silver Spring a statewide and national model for livable, sustainable community development.”

“We are proud to be part of this partnership and to support this important economic development and entertainment project,” said LDG’s Bruce Lee.

The Fillmore Silver Spring will have a capacity of 500 to 2,000 and will feature crystal chandeliers, hardwood floors, dark painted red walls, historic rock art posters – and the iconic barrel of complimentary apples at the door. It will be inspired by the original Fillmore in San Francisco, which launched the careers of such rock, soul and jazz legends as Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Miles Davis, and Otis Redding.

For additional information on The Fillmore Silver Spring project, go to

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Media contact: Montgomery County, Patrick Lacefield, 240-777-6507

Curtain closing on Old Blair Auditorium project

Silver Spring, Maryland

Curtain closing on Old Blair Auditorium project
County jeopardizes renovation by deciding not to fund facility

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer | Wed Jan 20, 2010

Click here for to go to the Old Blair Auditorium Project website

oldblairs012010w_rgbbMontgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett did not fund the renovation of the Old Blair Auditorium in his capital budget released Friday, putting state funds allotted for the long-vacant Silver Spring facility in jeopardy and leaving a community in need of arts space still wanting.

In 2005, a $600,000 state bond bill was awarded to Old Blair Auditorium Project Inc., a nonprofit residents group dedicated to renovating the facility, which has been closed since the 1999 relocation of Montgomery Blair High School. However, the bond is contingent on the county matching the $600,000 in its Capital Improvements Program for 2011-2016.

Leggett left out funds for the Old Blair Auditorium in his recommended CIP submitted Friday. Now, unless there is an extension, the bond bill will expire at the end of this year, forcing rehabilitation efforts of the auditorium to start from scratch.

“The county government hasn’t stepped up to take ownership of the project,” said Stuart Moore, president of Old Blair Auditorium Inc. “… It’s a county resource, this space that’s sitting there that was once used for something beneficial now is just rotting and the county is letting it continue to rot.”

In May 2008, Calverton-based architects Grimm and Parker met with residents, county officials and Montgomery County Public Schools officials to plan the auditorium’s renovation in the event that further funding would be provided. The facility would be renovated into a 750- to 800-seat, two-floor auditorium with four classrooms in the rear of the facility and cost up to $8 million depending on the design. The auditorium is located on the campus of Silver Spring International Middle and Sligo Creek Elementary schools.

The space would be available to students of those schools, as well as county arts and theater groups who could rent out the space.

“It would have been so flexible in terms of putting on different scale and size things,” said Greg Lewis, executive director of the performance group Washington Revels, which has administrative offices on Dale Drive near the Old Blair Auditorium. Washington Revels, usually featuring 50 to 100 performers in each of its productions, travels across the region looking for performance venues and often holds smaller rehearsals in their offices or outside due to a lack of available space.

The design meetings held last year were part of a $25,000 feasibility study spearheaded by Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring.

“It’s time for the county to step up for responsibility of this asset,” said Ervin, who wondered why funding for the auditorium wasn’t included at least in the back end of the 2011-2016 CIP. “It’s been left empty for a decade now, at a time where we need extra classroom space and afterschool space.”

Leggett’s CIP proposal called for $3.9 million in capital construction, $110 million more than what was approved last year. The CIP budget relies largely on borrowed money, and low interest rates and low construction costs due to the economic recession made this a good time to take on construction projects, Leggett said last week. The county’s operating budget is facing a $600 million deficit.

“We had a lot more requests than money to give out,” Leggett spokesman Patrick K. Lacefield said of the CIP.

The bond bill was extended in the 2008 General Assembly, thanks to support from Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park and Dels. Sheila Hixson, Tom Hucker and Heather Mizeur, all Democrats from Dist. 20 in Silver Spring. Facing the loss of $600,000 dedicated to the auditorium’s renovation, Old Blair Auditorium Inc. and state legislators will push for an extension again this year, Raskin said, but “we have limited leverage in the absence of a local effort.” The state is facing a $2 billion shortfall.

If the state funding is lost the building will continue to deteriorate, leaving middle and elementary school students adjoined to the auditorium without space and a potentially vibrant performance space without an opening curtain.

“It could be rented out virtually every day,” said David Ottalini, an Old Blair Auditorium Inc. board member. “How much money have we lost by not having space available for rent?”