SILVER SPRING, MD (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The fight for a new concert facility in Silver Spring Maryland isn't over yet, at least if Seth Hurwitz has his way.
The dispute centers on a parcel of property in Silver Spring that had been the focus of long-term negotiations between the Montgomery County officials and the Birchmere Music Hall to develop a new performance space. The deal came apart last summer and Live Nation swooped in with big dreams about building a new Fillmore on the site, sending a non-binding letter of intent to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett.
Not so fast says Seth Hurwitz. Hurwitz, the promoter for IMP, which runs Nightclub 9:30, The Merriweather Post Pavilion, and launched the Virgin Festival in Baltimore has now sent his own letter to the County, pitching what he hopes will be seen as a better deal.
According to the Washington Post, Hurwitz is offering 15,000 a month in rent, double the $7,500 that Live Nation has offered. Additionally, Hurwitz has said that IMP would contribute $2 million to the project, covering 25% of the money that had been slated from state and local taxes to pay for the development of the site. "We believe your reputation as a fair-minded decision maker entrusted with carefully spending taxpayers dollars suggests you would want to be apprised of an industry-leading, locally based company that shares your goals of making that property a luminous destination for music lovers." Hurwitz wrote in the letter.
Despite these tempting inducements, Leggett took little time in setting aside Hurwitz offer. The post reported that Leggett responded to Hurwitz LOI the following day, stating that the county would "not negotiate with other parties" and that "It would be inappropriate for the county to enter into an agreement with one operator only to subsequently decide to engage in simultaneous negotiations with a second proposed operator this would be unacceptable."
Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for the county, told CelebrityAccess that while no formal invitation for a submission of bids for the site had been issued, that it was not a legal requirement for the county to do so and that in some cases, the County realizes better results from negotiation with specific parties rather than inviting bid submissions. Lacefield also said that it would be a sign of bad faith to break off negotiations with Live Nation now and that the county was under a legal obligation to continue.
CelebrityAccess: What prompted the latest LOI? Was it something that you had been anticipating or did something in the scenario change to make such an offer seem like a viable strategy?
Seth Hurwitz: It was really no different than being told a deal was "done" with a competitor on a show you were working on, only to find out that it was not confirmed, and that they were in at a ridiculously low offer that you could easily beat.
I did what I always do in those cases…make an offer.
The difference is that shows involve a manager & agent who can arbitrarily decide to play a 7-11 if they so choose. This deal involves a publicly elected official spending millions of the taxpayers money, and in a severe budget crisis, no less.
CelebrityAccess: Has there been any response from county officials regarding your LOI beyond Mr. Leggett's letter?
Hurwitz: They are insisting it's a done deal when, in fact…and I do mean legal fact….it isn't.
CelebrityAccess: Do you have any sense of why Mr. Leggett seems so directed towards Live Nation?
Hurwitz: Well that's the big puzzle. Thankfully, others are now asking the same question.
It's odd behavior for sure. I suppose he has a reason, but he's certainly not sharing it.
The whole bit about it not being appropriate to talk to other people when you're in the middle of a deal with someone else…is he really saying that's what happened with the Birchmere? That he waited until that deal was over before talking to Live Nation?
Is that even possible, time-wise?
CelebrityAccess: Presuming your offer was accepted, can you give us a sense of what kind of venue you would like to build there? Do you have a fallback option under consideration for developing a new venue if this site does go to LN?
Hurwitz: It certainly won't be another 9:30. In fact, it will be anything but that.
We haven't gotten into the creative process yet, as we're just trying to open the door for that now.
As far as other venues, we are always exploring that, but that criteria will always be based on market needs, and not to create a "portfolio of venues".
CelebrityAccess: What do you believe would make your organization a better alternative to another Fillmore in Silver Spring?
Hurwitz: Well, it's pretty well known that we don't have enough dates for people that want to play 930. Some end up going to Baltimore now because of that.
We will have the luxury of choosing the right venue for the right act, as opposed to simply trying to buy everything you can on that level for one venue.
But I can't speak to what they would've done, as I haven't really heard anything besides chandeliers & apples. This would be the first time that they haven't just stuck the name Fillmore on an existing venue, so who knows.
We compete hard for market share, but I think our track record speaks for itself on how we've achieved that. We try to do a better job. I will let history speak for itself.
The county has everything to gain and nothing to lose by opening this up to competitive proposals. All we're asking for is an opportunity to be heard.
Then let the best company and the best deal win.
Not sure why they wouldn't want that as well.
– CelebrityAccess Staff Writers