- This temporary sign must be what pushed the Fillmore over its budget. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
What wasn't entirely clear on Wednesday is as clear today as this morning's weather: The Fillmore music hall in Silver Spring is $3.2 million over budget, and Montgomery County is footing the entire bill.
A letter from David Dise, director of the Department of General Services, to County Executive Ike Leggett — dated Aug. 18, the same day I interviewed Dise and reported on the cost overruns — calls the total project budget of $11.2 million "a reasonable price," noting that the original estimate of $8 million was eight years old and "had not been escalated and which was based upon preliminary design work."
"Ironically," says Diane Schwartz Jones, the county's assistant chief administrative officer, "the hard costs of the project came in very close to that $8 million."
Unfortunately, that figure was meant to include soft costs, too, like design and engineering. And now someone — guess who! — needs to make up the difference. According to Dise's letter, the county has found nearly $2.7 million in Department of Recreation projects that are either below budget or were canceled. Live Nation, the Fillmore's lessee, will front the remaining $725,000, which will be subtracted from their already generous rent of $3.26 million over 30 years. That brings their monthly rent down to about $7,000 — for, it bears repeating, a 23,000-square-foot rock club.
Jones notes that the project budget includes a contingency of nearly $1 million, that the assumed interest rate on the project's debt is lower than expected, and that the state sales tax has increased from 5 to 6 percent. "There are fiscal assumptions that are different and we're going to run those," she says, "and I think they're going to show that this is a very, very positive project."