- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Birchmere music hall’s plans to open a second venue locally are back on track after a deal was announced yesterday with the University of Maryland.

The Birchmere agreed to open a 500-seat music hall in College Park as part of the university”s redevelopment of its East Campus.

Under the deal, the Birchmere would build and operate a stage for singers and music groups in partnership with the University of Maryland”s School of Music.

The university”s other projects on the campus with developers Foulger-Pratt/Argo include residences, offices, a hotel and retail.

“Our goal with the East Campus development is to give the community more entertainment, retail and restaurant options, and the Birchmere will be a key part in this effort,” said Douglas M. Duncan, University of Maryland vice president for administrative affairs.

Mr. Duncan tried to broker the deal to bring the Birchmere to Silver Spring while he was Montgomery County executive. Mr. Duncan, who was executive from 1994 to 2006, left county government last year and joined the University of Maryland in March.

Birchmere and county officials negotiated for nearly five years to open an $8 million music hall in downtown Silver Spring at 8656 Colesville Road, the site of the historic J.C. Penney”s building.

The Birchmere is a nationally recognized music hall in Alexandria whose performers have included Herbie Hancock, Lyle Lovett and Arturo Sandoval.

A new Birchmere music hall would mean the University of Maryland is succeeding where Silver Spring and Montgomery County failed.

In July, the county and the Birchmere announced negotiations had broken off after they failed to reach agreement on contract terms.

The proposed Silver Spring site would have been across the street from the American Film Institute”s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and the performing arts Round House Theatre.

The College Park home for the Birchmere would be part of a 2.6-million-square-feet mixed-use redevelopment on the university”s East Campus.

Bryant Foulger, principal in Rockville company Foulger-Pratt Cos., said the Birchmere would be an “anchor” for the redevelopment.

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