County, state and federal officials met under a blazing sun Thursday morning, to break ground on a new music venue in the heart of downtown Silver Spring.
"Today is a continuation of a journey and a continuation of revitalization," said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, who also acknowledged former County Executive Doug Duncan, for his role in the project. "One of the challenges for revitalizing Silver Spring has always been this block. Other places have thrived, but [Silver Spring] will not be complete until we get this job done."
The ceremony marked an important step in an eight-year journey to create Fillmore Silver Spring, an entertainment space that will further mark the city as a cultural and arts destination. And it comes just three days after an official groundbreaking of the new Silver Spring library on Wayne Avenue and Fenton Street.
The project has been slated to receive $4 million each from the state of Maryland and Montgomery County, for a total of $8 million. An additional $3.2 million will be added to the project, which to some in the county has been seen as overrun.
"The $8 million was before the design was finalized," said Patrick Lacefield, a county executive spokesman.
He explained that the original estimate was eight years old and did not account for inflation or increased construction material costs.
"The $3.2 million more is being covered by other county projects that were under budget," Lacefield added.
These include two county recreation centers and a pool.
Live Nation, a California-based promoter who will manage the business, will contribute an additional $2 million of money toward utility and maintenance costs for the building.
The project is expected to bring in more customers for the restaurants and businesses in the area, much like the arrival of the American Film Institute (AFI Silver) and Round House theaters across the street.
"We're ecstatic," beamed Wayne Christopher, a consultant with Rapid Mortgage Company, affiliated with Thai Flavor, a restaurant adjacent to the new venue. "It is definitely positive for our business, and it is a deciding factor in terms of whether or not we stay or go."
During construction, there will be a 90-foot covered linear walkway in the front of the building facing Colesville Road to allow pedestrians to walk through as usual as well as to protect the front façade of the building.
"We've gone through all of the proper channels, including traffic studies, and everything has gone through," said Bruce H. Lee, president of the Lee Development Group.
The Fillmore is set to open in fall of 2011 and will play host to musicians from all over the country as well as showcase local talent. The music hall will retain the original façade of the former JC Penney building on Colesville Road and will have an audience capacity of 500 to 2,000. It will also serve as a venue space for other county events. Twenty percent of the project is expected to involve minority businesses.