SILVER SPRING, MD (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Representatives from Maryland, Montgomery County, property developer Lee Development Group (LDG), and Live Nation were in Silver Spring for a ground breaking ceremony at the future site of a new Fillmore Theatre, which is slated to open in 2011. On hand to turn the earth were Live Nation's D.C. President Ted Mankin, Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown, Lee Development Group President Bruce Lee and County Executive Isiah Leggett, along with several hundred onlookers.
Despite this auspicious event, the new Fillmore is not without controversy. Last month, it was revealed that the project is already $3.2 million over it's initial projected budget of $8 million, a fact that has brought a lawsuit against the project from Seth Hurwitz's I.M.P.
Among the allegations made in the lawsuit is that the money being spent to cover cost overruns at the venue, $2.6 million of which is being covered by the Montgomery County, with Live Nation picking up the rest, has been misappropriated. According to the lawsuit, the County is not authorized to spend more than the $4 million originally pledged without further approval by the County Council and is further prevented from commencing construction on the project until all funding has been approved.
The lawsuit also contends that the County Administration has deliberately concealed the cost overruns, and pushed up the construction timeline at the venue in order to prevent a budget review of the project. The cost overruns were officially announced on August 10, after the County Council had recessed for a seven week hiatus. Hurwitz also alleges that the groundbreaking was pushed up to September 2nd in order to conceal construction that had already commenced at the venue and to ensure that the project was underway before the County Council reconvened on Sept. 24th.
Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for the county, took exception to some of I.M.P.'s allegations. He pointed to a provision in the County Charter which allows the County Executive to transfer unused money from one project to another, which would appear to undercut IMP's allegations.
Lacefield also noted that the overruns were included in an estimated budget, which was approved by the county's Director of General Services on August 6th. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers