Downtown hotel 1

An artist’s rendering of the downtown hotel and conference center project, as viewed from the northwest corner of Patrick and Carroll streets.

UPDATE: After about an hour of debate on the topic of the downtown Frederick hotel and conference center on Thursday, the Maryland House and Senate passed a fiscal 2017 capital budget with funding for the project.

Republican delegates and senators, including some lawmakers from outside Frederick County, questioned the appropriation. The measure was supported by budget conference committee members and Democratic lawmakers from Frederick County.

Original story below:

ANNAPOLIS — A committee of Maryland House and Senate lawmakers worked out their differences in a capital budget bill that supports $16 million in bond and grant funding for a downtown Frederick hotel and conference center.

The conference committee, made up of five senators and five delegates, approved three budget amendments relating to the downtown hotel project at a meeting late Wednesday afternoon.

The first amendment gives the city of Frederick $1 million in grant funding for next year. The remaining two amendments pre-authorize $7.5 million grants in both 2018 and 2019.

Pre-authorizations are essentially requests to the governor to include money in his proposed budget, said Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange Sr., D-Anne Arundel.

The conference committee’s move comes as a bill to seek about $19.8 million in bond funding for the project through the Maryland Stadium Authority is stuck in General Assembly committees.

Earlier in the legislative session, delegates Barrie S. Ciliberti, William Folden and David E. Vogt III and Sen. Michael Hough — all Republicans — voted not to support that bill. Delegate Kathy Afzali, also a Republican, abstained.

Sen. Ron Young and delegates Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young, all Democrats who represent the city of Frederick, supported and filed the bill.

That bill would have been the largest chunk of public funding for the conference center, which is now projected to cost about $69.8 million.

Under current plans, about $44 million will be paid by the developer of an attached full-service hotel, Plamondon Hospitality Partners.

Last week, a rift again formed between members of the delegation after a similar conference committee for the state’s operating budget considered an amendment that would have steered $200,000 to the project. That move was vigorously opposed by Republican delegation members.

Funding found

On Wednesday morning, the House of Delegates passed the state’s $1 billion capital budget. The conference committee introduced and voted in favor of the Frederick conference center amendments around 5:30 p.m.

In letters sent Wednesday, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, Frederick Mayor Randy McClement and the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce asked lawmakers to find capital money for the project.

DeGrange said their support showed its economic importance to the county.

“We try to help where we can,” he said.

The first $1 million grant proposed by the budget conference committee comes with requirements that would need to be met before the money is released, according to the amendment.

None of the money can be spent until a memorandum of understanding outlining terms for development and financing of the project is signed by the Maryland Stadium Authority, county executive and County Council, Frederick’s mayor and Board of Aldermen, and the private developer of the property, according to the amendment.

The signed agreement must be sent to the General Assembly’s budget committees, which can comment. That money would be available when the requirements are met.

The amended capital budget with the conference committee’s changes could come back to the House and Senate floors as soon as Thursday morning.

Lawmakers react

“I’m delighted. I think it’s the most important economic development opportunity we’ve had in Frederick in decades,” Lewis Young said Wednesday evening after hearing confirmation of the amendments.

She and Krimm had been working with delegates to free up money for the project, as Ron Young was working with senators, the lawmakers said.

“We were looking for a partnership with the state. And I think this is that partnership,” Krimm said.

Young said he had been working on a funding commitment for some time, and was happy to see the money included Wednesday. He questioned any opposition.

“It’s unusual. We’ve had all kinds of senators and delegates saying to us that this is the first time that they’ve seen part of a delegation trying to turn down money to help their county,” Young said of those who opposed the Stadium Authority bill.

Hough said he will fight the committee amendments in the Senate.

“It is a complete slap in the face to the Frederick County delegates and the constituents that we represent in the county, and it is an ugly power play for corporate welfare dollars,” Hough said Wednesday. “I will resist it, and my hope is that the governor will veto this corporate welfare.”

Maryland budget secretary David Brinkley was at Wednesday’s meeting. He wouldn’t say whether the governor’s office backs the project, but said “the governor is supportive of certain economic development” and will consider the forthcoming memorandum of understanding as they write the 2018 budget.

The proposed hotel would be on the property at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St., which is currently owned by a business entity formed by members of the Randall family. The Randall family also owns the parent company of The Frederick News-Post.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(80) comments

bosco

One has to ask how the Young$ will benefit from this, along with the Randall$ and Plamondon$, as well as burgessdr and arlohemphill. If a downtown hotel project is a viable business plan, why can't it stand on it's own merits without the Young$ clamoring for tax dollar$ to prop it up? If a downtown hotel is really all that vital, build it - but not with public money.

Another thought, if public money is not involved in the process, as many try to claim,why is it necessary to raise it to the state level?

arlohemphill

This is such great news! I wish we got the total amount of requested funding, but this is a start. What a big win for everyone and every business in Frederick!

KellyAlzan

The updated title is misleading.

As stated in earlier today's story - this needs to be approved by the governor. The republican governor.

That, and read Lenny's comment....

jill king

If only that were true. $16M spred out over three years that the entire FC delegation approved last year is a drop in the bucket of a multi hundred billion dollar budget. Besides, the gossip out of Annapolis is that Hough doesn't know his place. But then again, most of the people that comment here never have or will cast a vote for him.

KellyAlzan

Hi ugh has nothing to do with my initial comment, Jill.

And furthermore:
The Republican governor can veto projects in the capital budget bill. The budget bill was passed early enough that any vetoes could be overridden before the end of session.

jill king

You do understand what a veto override is don't you? Probably not, since you have declared victory every step of the way and think anyone here cares about a hotel in WV enough to link it ad nauseam.

mrnatural1

Has anyone offered a reasonable explanation as to why it makes sense for the government to support one private business over another?

Or why government should be involved in private enterprise at all?

If this hotel/conference center is good idea it should not need any government assistance (aka corporate welfare).

arlohemphill

This is an economic development project - similar to stadiums, bridges, highways, etc. The hotel will have tremendous benefits for all of the businesses downtown. This type of public-private partnership is very common and very good for our community as a whole.

jill king

35-11 Senate, 120-16 House. Approved!

jgrose79

So the post isn't liberal? That's what my liberal friends tell me. Yet take a look at who's helping them out. Ron, Karen and Krimm. Go figure. I find it hilarious that all these liberals who are ignorant enough to support Young's anti gun stance feel betrayed by him. The man is ignorant. He will not listen to reason or his constituents, he does exactly as he wants when he wants. God forbid he change his opinion based on information and data. I'm not for this hotel by any means but I find it funny because you pay for what you get. What you paid for is a liberal senator who has no problem handing out your hard earned tax dollars to businesses or to programs many of us already disagree with. Follow the money and you find that he pays back donors to his campaign. Ron will probably get a free room at the hotel for his lady friends.

DickD

Sadly, you speak the truth.[thumbup]

MAVRICKinc7

SO, the public really hasn't been included in this latest decision to spend their money toward more corporate welfare. Wonder how many favors did the Young DYNASTY have to call in to get the Randall family assets on the trading real estate market? The point I'm making is that the citizen population of Frederick and Frederick County had no cards in this game to play with, or even pay the ante just to get in the game other than to note this DEAL was not of their making and the rich get richer. Once again, how does this hotel and conference center help Frederick County with the support of our County's elected leadership? What's to be gained other than incurring more public debt for the next 20 years and nothing to show for giving up tax dollars through TIF strategies?

Burgessdr

no public debt, no public debt, none, notta, why cant you all get that

arlohemphill

How do you mean the public hasn't been included? These budget decisions have been very public and have included several hearings where members of our community have been able to testify. I have written several letters OF STRONG SUPPORT to the delegates and to the Governor. I can't think of how the public could have been more included...

petersamuel

Someone called DeGrange pops up in this story. Anyone heard of him/her? Position?

petersamuel

MY MISTAKE: he is referenced as Anne Arundel delegate explaining stuff.

Burgessdr

Samuel said the project was in shambles after he, WE'ir and Patty Crankicles slayed the evil hotel dragon with their testimony. Altered reality.

Frayou

I'd rather see this public money support a new aquatic center for the county use, Butterfly Lane. (Separate from the new Urbana YMCA). County can't seem to find the will or money for this project, but government leaders have no problem sponsoring business welfare for an overprice upper class hotel for downtown that I suspect will be under used. What is wrong with this picture??

richardlyons

[thumbup] Good point this money would be better spent on an aquatic center at the Hargett Farm property, not further enriching two wealthy families.

DickD

[thumbup] Absolutely right!

Burgessdr

no public money, no public money, none, notta, why cant you all get that?

arlohemphill

Marriott is a mid-market hotel, perfect for business travel. A new aquatic center would be a great recreational asset to our community, but would not grow our economy like this project will. Downtown Frederick has so much to offer and this hotel will capitalize on that.

Frayou

I grew up in Frederick. Downtown was once the center of the county, both government and shopping. I remember a time traveling from Thurmont on old Rt. 15 on Fridays to either eat at McCroys or the Snow White Grill before going to the Tivoley Theater to watch the latest Disney movie while family paid bills & shopped. This is now the past. Things have changed. No longer the mega center for the county. Suggest we are living in the past holding on to s time no longer present. Suggest we are attempting to provide business support in itself. For what purpose at tax payer expense. Overpriced shops & restaurants?

valerie_dale

Personally, I support this project for a number of reasons. I have friends who are in both camps of support and opposition. I also believe we should all be able to agree to disagree on certain topics and issues without getting into the politics of personal destruction.

BlueDawn666

What are your reasons??....also what are the politics of personal destruction?

DickD

Then quit stealing my tax money!

MAVRICKinc7

This is all about political persuasion. Otherwise why are the Republican guard so intent in having this financial strategic manipulation and crossing swords with the usual Democrats who don't seem to run of out ways to spend public dollars, soley because they are the MAJORITY stock holders in the State of Maryland and underwriting corporate greed, much the same way the Republican hoard, use and abuse what was once "due process" and is now reduced to a game strategy used and abused by both sides to gain market share in all things we have come to ACCEPT as the same corruption and DONE DEALS that the PUBLIC is invited to watch, but without any imput that hasn't otherwise been designed and scripted to conclusion BEFORE the public even shows up to listen in on what has already been decided from behind closed doors strategies, while the public remains in the back of the bus and has for decades of lying by OMMISSION and strategic story lines produced by the FNP as the SILENT PARTNER in this matter of strategic indebtedness.

DickD

Help the County, what a lie, it will not even help the City. It will help the Plamondons and Randalls with corporate welfare, that is all. I am very disappointed in Ron Young and his wife Karen. Next time he will be getting two votes less.

arlohemphill

This will help the city greatly. I can't wait for groundbreaking to begin.

joelp77440

Yea baby!

jthompson

While there is no longer serious debate about the need for some sort of social safety net for the "truly needy", there is considerable debate over its appropriate height and width. I am glad to see that many others, from both ends of the political spectrum, share my view that the net should not be so high and wide to accommodate millionaires.

BlueDawn666

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][love]

jthompson

During my tenure as a public servant, I usually stood alone in opposition to these Robin-Hood-in-reverse taxpayer giveaways to the wealthy. From those thrilling days of yesteryear: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36163-2004Dec4.html

BlueDawn666

So is this a done deal Mr. Thompson, is there any to fight this now? What is your advice?

jthompson

Maybe, maybe not. The deal still has to get by the Governor. During the 2014 campaign the proponents of the hotel/conference center raised substantial political campaign contributions for Gov. Hogan's opponent, the-Lt. Gov. Brown, in exchange for Brown's promise to provide state money for the project. As I understand it, last year Gov Hogan's staff reminded the proponents of this and more or less told them to get lost. We'll have to see what finally comes out of the budget.

BlueDawn666

Interesting..and thank you for your input, you have given me much to think about. That was what I was thinking myself that this isn't quit a done deal...Hogan still needs to sign off on it...this was such an under handed way to do it.

KellyAlzan

this method is assuring Ron Young that he wont be senator the next election. Just like Ba'Lane - the nursing home deal sealed his fate. If it wasn't for the nursing home scandal, Ba'Lane has a strong shot at the CE seat.

Ronnie young is following in his son's footsteps.

BlueDawn666

Speak your mind and hear from a group of concerned citizens
Welcome All Frederick County Residents

April 15, 2016
6:30-8:30p.m.
Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ
11 W. Church Street, Frederick, MD
right side of church entrance- follow signs- to the Community Room

Everyone is encouraged to ask questions and join the discussion. Together, we can work for the best future for our beloved Frederick!

We have identified the following areas of public concern:
COST TO TAXPAYERS The estimated $31 Million dollar cost will burden city, county and state taxpayers. No County input has been sought but County taxpayers are on the hook. Project does not reflect the priorities of the citizenry.

FAULTY PROJECTIONS The studies used to justify the project are questionable. Lack of adequate airport or train services means Frederick will not attract as many new visitors/ or conference planners, as projected. Tourism numbers do not account for the number of day-visitors. The proximity to Baltimore/DC, plus the high room rate excludes government conference goers due to travel/per diem allowances. Research indicates there is a regional/national glut of conference centers.
Contact us for more information or visit us on ttps://www.facebook.com/groups/1498307467136953

On Jan Gardner's website "Nothing is more important than creating an environment in local government where people can participate and make a difference." She went announced that she supported this deal without County participation!
If this was a good deal, they would not be resorting to sneaky backroom tactics....

Please visit these Face Book pages for more details

FoFC Downtown Marriott Watch
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1498307467136953/

The Frederick Chronicles
https://www.facebook.com/The-Frederick-Chronicles-489681077776883/

BlueDawn666

UNFAIR HOTEL TAX The plan to raise the Frederick County Hotel tax makes all other hotels contribute to the cost of new competition.

HARMFUL TO COMPETITORS Hotel/Conference Center, 2 restaurants, 2 bars and a café will cannibalize business from other privately financed business competitors.

TRAFFIC NIGHTMARES-THE CITY PAYS No traffic studies have been done but plans include a change in traffic patterns on Patrick Street at an additional estimated cost of 1 million to the city. City dwellers have concerns about property values, quality of life, traffic congestion, and infringements on Residential on street parking.

DESIGN AND SCALE The massive design and scale of the plan dominates the gateway to the Cultural district.

HISTORIC RESOURCES LOST Demolition of Bireley Tannery and unknown changes to the Frederick News Post building.

PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS The risk to the public is being ignored. The hotel/conference center site contains toxic industrial waste, which has not been adequately tested, reported, or remediated.

arlohemphill

BS. This hotel is a great asset to our city and competes with no one. Do you seriously think that a destination event that would come to downtown Frederick would also consider a Holiday Inn in behind a strip mall? The markets are totally different. This hotel will drive commerce to all the downtown businesses and provide an excellent focal point for the the historic district's continuing redevelopment and growth. It's a win win for everyone in Frederick.

BlueDawn666

Pre-authorizations are essentially requests to the governor to include money in his proposed budget, said Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange Sr., D-Anne Arundel....some of us seem to have reading comprehension problems...they are requesting that the governor include money in his budget...doesn't mean he is going to...

made up of five senators and five delegates, approved three budget amendments relating to the downtown hotel project at a meeting late Wednesday afternoon.....okay so what these five senators and five delegates approved three budget amendments ...but these ten people are not the final vote.

Hough said he will fight the committee amendments in the Senate...and I pretty sure others will too.

“It is a complete slap in the face to the Frederick County delegates and the constituents that we represent in the county, and it is an ugly power play for corporate welfare dollars,” Hough said Wednesday. “I will resist it, and my hope is that the governor will veto this corporate welfare.”...and as a Republican governor he should veto corporate welfare..cause we all know how much Republicans hate welfare...so no this isn't a done deal..far from it.

DickD

This corporate welfare makes me totally disgusted. Now I side with the Republicans and what Hough is saying is how I feel.

jwhamann

No TV screens in the windows and all window frames must be made of wood. Otherwise it will spoil the charm of the Historic District.

cctjr64

Well more taxpayer money being wasted, but we still have not heard anything about what is going on with Montevue/Citizens.

jill king

Good news! Now it skips the silly bought local delegation rules and moves for approval.

Comment deleted.
BlueDawn666

LOL....[lol][lol][lol]

DickD

Jill is an alderman for the City.

Dwasserba

Geez. Zombie Hotel, takes a hit, takes a hit, but keeps on coming

LeonardKeepers

they do not need this hotel and convention center in downtown frederick really they just do not need the hotel.

arlohemphill

yes, we do need it. It will be a tremendous asset.

FrederickFan

Worst case scenario for the Frederick County Republican Delegation: They look like silly after accepting $1,500 bribes from the guy who owns the FSK Holiday Inn to kill the project, they vote against it and therefore against the best interests of all existing Frederick County businesses, and it ultimately passes anyway thanks to forward thinking Democrats!

Positive

Agreed! That's exactly what happened.

KellyAlzan

"Pre-authorizations for grant funding are essentially requests to the governor to include money in his proposed budget."

I cant see the republican governor signing off on this.

And we will send him opposition letters

jill king

Says the guy that only supports economic development in WV. It seems this is the same identical monies (except for Amendment 1) that the entire delegation supported in 2015.

BlueDawn666

Yeah we will, many of them....

BlueDawn666

bpw@maryland.gov....this is the email to send letters of opposition to.

DickD

Jill, as an alderman of Frederick, I can understand your support, but this is corporate welfare, which should never be condoned.

KellyAlzan

Jill I'm it sure who you're referring to as "...a guy....", or in generl who you're referring to,

But I have mentined the harpers ferry hill top hotel. I'm not in support of the harpers ferry hotel.

My point is that there have been plans to replace the existing abandoned hotel with an $80 mil resort / banquet center.

They are targeting the same clientele as the proposed Frederick hotel conference ctr.

Harpers ferry is a straight easy drive with no traffic lights to access. This hill top hotel has a view to die for. Incredible view. Harpers ferry is not far enough away to NOT be a competitor to the proposed downtown Frederick hotel.

Think about it - choice of a company award banquet in downtown Frederick next to a man made creek, or on a hillside cliff overlooking (2) major rivers and a national park. People from DC will choose harpers ferry; they already do, go there on any weekend and you'll see.

Frederick needs to realize their downtown hotel won't be the only game in the area.

gary4books

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Burgessdr

Samuel said the project was in shambles after he, WE'ir and Patty Crankicles slayed the evil hotel dragon with their testimony. Altered reality.

KellyAlzan

its just an amendment. Its still not happening

jill king

IT HAPPENED!

gary4books

Dragon? I saw a windmill.

mrnatural1

Why is the government involved in what should be private enterprise?

Will they do they same for anyone else who wants to build a hotel?

If not, why not?

What makes this project so special?

If it is such a good idea, the developer should be able to get private financing.

If s/he cannot get traditional financing, perhaps it's not such a good plan after all.

How about existing hotels that will be hurt financially from this proposed hotel? Will they be given government assistance to compensate them for their losses?

If a project cannot stand on it's own, without government assistance (aka "corporate welfare") it deserves to never get off the ground.

Presumably, any money from bonds will cost less than regular financing which means higher profits for the developer. Where does that money go?

These are just a few of the many questions that should be asked and answered.

KellyAlzan

And not just existing hotels, but how bout places like Ceresville Mansion, and how bout the local fire depts. that rent out their banquet rooms?

arlohemphill

Not the same market. AT ALL.

bosco

mrnatural asked "What makes this project so special?" Answer - Randall$ and Plamondon$ along with their lapdogs the Young$

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] We'll find someone better to vote for next time. The Young dynasty needs to end.

jgrose79

The republicans are running a really good candidate against Ron next election. I don't think Ron stands a chance after many of his actions.

DickD

Just mark it down as greed of the Plamondons and Randalls with some kind of payback for the Youngs. If Ron wanted to represent the City, not the County, he should have run for Mayor, not Senator.

richardlyons

Exactly. The rich get richer.

MAVRICKinc7

Goes back to the owner/developer to cut their over head and construction cost.

arlohemphill

This project is so special because historic downtown Frederick is a vibrant, compelling visitor destination that currently lacks a good hotel and convention center to capitalize on its appeal. There are zero existing hotels in this market. The type of clientele that would consider downtown Frederick for meetings and/or tourism will simply not otherwise choose a Holiday Inn behind a strip mall or something alongside a highway. Those will remain good budget venues for family visits and truck drivers, but will never attract the type of person who wants a walkable, shopable downtown experience.

Burgessdr

What about Peter Samuel's recent LTE about ding dong the wicked witch is dead?

petersamuel

Never claimed she was dead, Donald, just pretty badly beat up. Maybe she's up for more beating?

Burgessdr

$16 million authorization is hardly "in shambles." We heard that after the opposition testified last week that the Senators rolled eyes and snickered with a couple of WTFs thrown in, and and one comment about Larry, Moe, and Curly. They particularly laughed at the 5 year old girl whining over and over Its not Fair, Its not Fair.

2cents

Wouldn't a project of this size be more suitable and accessible somewhere on route 15 or route 340.
Wouldn't a smaller hotel in scale with the homes here be a better fit

arlohemphill

NO! A hotel like that would not attract the same market. This is a downtown hotel, which appeals to business travelers and tourists alike wanting easy access to restaurants, shops, bars, theatres, coffee shops. A downtown hotel is a destination venue. A hotel alongside a highway caters only to local needs.

public-redux

Oh, dear. Think of all the extra snow we're gonna get downtown now. Terrible.

KellyAlzan

Give it up.

Not happening

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