Monday, August 24, 2009

Mixed Unity's Peace Walk in Silver Spring

Pictures from Mixed Unity's Peace Walk in Silver Spring on August 22, 2009. The purpose of the Walk was to express messages of peace and non-violence and to honor the memory of Tai Lam. Participants marched to Pyramid Atlantic's store on Georgia Avenue from the bus stop at the corner of Piney Branch Road and Arliss Street where the Montgomery Blair High School student was murdered in November 2009.

More pictures at

Lee Development close to deal on Silver Spring project - Washington Business Journal

Monday, August 24, 2009, 10:52am EDT

Washington Business Journal - by Sarah Krouse Staff Reporter

Lee Development Group is at the one yard line in its years-long negotiations with Montgomery County to build a Fillmore Music Hall in downtown Silver Spring.

For the last six years, Lee Development Group has been working with County Executive Isiah Leggett on a deal that would give the county land for a 32,000-square-foot Fillmore music center run by Beverly Hills-based Live Nation in exchange for the county’s approval of a future mixed-use development directly behind the development between Georgia Avenue and Fenton Street.

The developer says a deal is imminent.

“We’re saying 30 to 60 days, but hopefully, we’re closer than that. We have several meetings over the next couple of weeks and are wrapping up the details,” said Bruce Lee, president of Lee Development Group.

The deal seems simple — a developer gives the county land and is promised future approval — but the swap is unprecedented in Montgomery County and since the mixed-use project could be years off, Lee wants to be sure it will get the same approval in the future that it would if the project was before the planning board today.

“Basically our mixed-use plan would be within the setback and boundaries of the current zoning. A deal like this that deals with future development has never been done in the county before, so a process had to be created. It’s really creative thinking for economic development. There is so much support on all fronts to get the music hall moving forward, that the deal makes sense,” Lee said.

The music hall will rise behind the historic facade of a 1949 J.C. Penney store that fronts Colesville Road. Lee has demolished the interior portion of the building that was vacated in 1989 and, once it gets the green light from the county, will redevelop it into an approximately 1,000-seat venue for concerts, comedy acts, films and art festivals.

The county will own the site and lease it to Live Nation. Live Nation could be reached for comment.

The two- to three-story music hall, once eyed by the Birchmere and 9:30 Club, will host up to 2,000 people for standing room events and join the emerging arts corridor along Colesville Road that is already home to the Round House Theater and the AFI Silver Theater.

The state and county will each contribute $4 million to build the center.

There are no final plans for Lee’s future mixed-use project, though an April 1 presentation to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission envisioned a 7-story, 215,000-square-foot office building on Georgia Avenue and a 14-story, 139,000-square-foot hotel behind the music center on Fenton Street.

Despite the drawn-out and, at times frustrating process of finalizing the deal with the county, Lee said the project is important to his family’s company.

“We’re a long-time family business in Silver Spring. We’ve been here for generations and we believe in doing what’s right for the area.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Silver Spring's Fillmore negotiations drag on, developer hoping for deal in 30 to 60 days

By: Alan Suderman Examiner Staff Writer August 20, 2009

A Montgomery County developer said he expects to reach a deal with the county within the next 30 to 60 days to build a long-awaited music hall in Silver Spring.

County Executive Ike Leggett announced a deal two years ago with California-based Live Nation that would bring a Fillmore Music Hall to a former J.C. Penney store site on Silver Spring's Colesville Road. The deal would preserve the historic facade of the store, which has sat empty for nearly 20 years. Leggett pushed the County Council last year to approve $4 million in funds and special land-use rule changes that were supposed to pave the way for a deal with the developer, Lee Development Group.

But the path to the deal has been long, and Lee and Leggett are still trying to hammer out a deal, with the sticking points in their debate being kept private.

"We're almost there," said Bruce Lee, head of Lee Development Group.

Lee said his company is being asked to donate a "very valuable" piece of land before it has created a plan to build up the rest of the adjacent property it owns. In return, Lee said he wants assurances that the current county's rules for development won't change when his company decides to develop the rest of its property.

"We're not asking for additional density, we're not asking for money," Lee said. "We're not asking for anything outside the box."

The county official who is Leggett's point person on the project could not be reached for comment.

The Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board, which supports building the Fillmore, has complained about the negotiations' lack of openness. Chairman Darian Unger said he is pleased to hear that a deal may be close, adding that his group has spent a long time waiting on "pins and needles."

Efforts to get a live music hall in Silver Spring date several years, first with the county unsuccessfully trying to get Alexandria's Birchmere Music Hall to open a second venue in Silver Spring.

County Councilman Marc Elrich, D-At Large, who voted against the zoning changes, said he and other council members were told last year that approval for the project was "critical" and "couldn't afford delay." He said it's "frustrating" not to have heard any updates on the project since.

Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg, D-At Large, said it was "troubling" that the project hadn't moved forward faster and that the County Council would have a "robust conversation" about the project if a deal isn't reached soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bringing the Blues to Silver Spring!

The DC Blues Society brought its 5th Annual Fish Fry 'n Blues 'n Bikes to Silver Spring for the first time this year. Hosted at the American Legion Cissell Saxon Post 41 on Sligo Avenue, the popular event attracted folks from throughout the metro Washington region. Guests were treated to excellent food, a motorcycle contest, eleven blues bands, and hours of dancing. The Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. was pleased to have assisted in finding a location for this wonderful event.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Benches on the Block in Downtown Silver Spring

A large and enthusiastic crowd was on hand to witness the unveiling of the "Benches on the Block," a project of Arts on the Block in partnership with Downtown Silver Spring and Pyramid Atlantic.