BG FNP Hotel - MP

The former Frederick News-Post building at 200 E. Patrick St. is part of the property planned to be used to build the downtown hotel and conference center.

A game-changer for the city, an economic driver and a PR nightmare summed up Frederick Alderman Derek Shackelford’s comments about the proposed downtown hotel project before a unanimous vote Thursday on the latest agreement with developers.

Shackelford’s words rang out ahead of similar ones from Alderman Ben MacShane and Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak after board members spent nearly three hours hashing out the details of the new memorandum of understanding between the city and developers Plamondon Hospitality Partners.

The document maps out the public and private cost-share estimates and development details for the planned multimillion-dollar project slated for 200-212 E. Patrick St. It replaces an agreement that city officials and developers signed in December 2015.

The newly adopted agreement nixes a second level of parking, raises the total room number from 180 to 199, and includes a breakdown of mitigation costs for the historic elements of the site, among other changes.

New cost-share estimates are also different. The document shows a total $17.5 million of public funds coming jointly from the city, Frederick County and the state of Maryland. The previous agreement estimated $31 million. The reduction is a result of state legislators declining during the 2018 General Assembly session to authorize $11 million in future grants that officials were hoping to use for the second layer of parking.

Board members hosted a lengthy workshop in May where they discussed the intricate details of the proposed draft agreement and heard feedback from the public. The final document includes several changes to that draft, as well as a list of revisions clarifying details of the project that officials sent out hours before Thursday’s meeting began. Richard Griffin, the city’s director of economic development, said those revisions were based on comments staff members received from the aldermen and the public since the workshop.

The aldermen, staff members and developers also spent about an hour at Thursday’s hearing tweaking specific language in various parts of the agreement — most notably details of the historic mitigation of the site — before they were satisfied with it.

“Language is important,” Kuzemchak said while apologizing to the room for rehashing some of the same details officials had already discussed.

Proper historic mitigation is required for the former Birely Tannery building, which is slated for demolition, and surrounding site on the property. A working agreement with the Maryland Historical Trust maps out those efforts. If members of the trust do not sign the agreement, though, the new memorandum of understanding states the developers and other project partners will collaborate on their own mitigation plan based on its contents. Mayor Michael O’Connor said multiple times he does not anticipate the trust not signing the agreement.

Two former Historic Preservation Commission chairmen, Scott Winnette and Dan Lawton, had different thoughts on the mitigation agreement. Winnette argued against the simplified approach, saying that the agreement is not complete and includes only “archaeology and pictures inside the hotel.” Lawton suggested offering a program to provide funding to other historic property owners as part of the effort.

Winnette and Lawton were part of the modest crowd who attended Thursday’s hearing and offered feedback about the details of the agreement.

Proponents such as Downtown Frederick Partnership Director Kara Norman and Elizabeth Cromwell, president and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, expressed their support for the project in Thursday’s public comment session.

On the flip side, familiar project opponents including Anthony Moscato, chairman of the Frederick Preservation Trust, a local preservation advocacy group, downtown resident Peter Samuel and Middletown resident Jane Weir objected to details such as the chosen site, development process, lack of publication of details along the way, and historic mitigation plans.

Parking has also been a concern. The project is slated to include one level of parking with a total of 160 spaces. The city’s land management code reportedly requires the developers to include roughly 120 spaces for the hotel, which leaves about 40 for the public. Concerns about parking were so prominent in the May workshop discussions, though, that the agreement was altered to include a call for the partners to collaborate and create a future parking overflow plan.

As for the overall timeline for the project, Griffin said the developers are still working through the site plan, which will eventually go before the city’s Planning Commission. He said this process is a lengthy one and that the commissioners have not seen the official plans yet.

Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska.

(38) comments

AnotherFineMess

Why is it that the city tax payers will fund a public infrastructure 160 space garage where only 40 spaces will be available to the public? The lions share of the cost of that garage is the structure and foundation to support the hotel and not spaces that generate revenue? The hotel WILL cordon off spaces for valet parking and very few spaces will truly be available to the public.

Aside from the fact that rooms have increased and parking decreased the garage will never be able to pay for itself.

I’m not sure what infrastructure other than the foundation/garage is being funded by this debacle.

Why the Aldermen backed this guaranteed money loser is beyond me!

mrnatural1

Would this hotel project have happened without taxpayers propping it up?

If not, why not?

DickD

It is not surprising that the City would vote for it and how they spend their money is okay, but getting taxes from outside the City is not okay. We have plenty of needs for that tax money without subsidizing the Plamondons and Randalls. If it was a good investment, tax money would not be needed.

mrnatural1

Testify Dick! Spot on! [thumbup][thumbup]

sofanna

Be very careful who you vote for on June 26!

StrengthofLiberty

These two paragraphs are from a June 2108 Governing Magazine report entitle: A Glimpse Into the Future of P3's by Justin Marlow. Here are the first and the last paragraphs from that article. When you finish reading this material, take a look at NASBO - their report detailing passed state budgets for 2018.

"These are dark days for public-private partnerships. President Trump’s P3-focused infrastructure finance plan was dismissed by Congress as a dead-on-arrival proposal. Earlier this year, more than 80 organizations and trade unions signed a letter imploring the World Bank to stop supporting infrastructure P3s. One of the biggest in recent history, the Indiana Toll Road, fell into bankruptcy last year after a long and difficult ride."

"This latest wave of P3s leverages private-sector innovation to change how underserved populations interact with the social safety net. Perhaps more important, small changes at the margins, such as making these programs work more efficiently and effectively, could mean billions in state and local savings. The possibilities are endless. Where is the app to improve on-demand access to paratransit services? Or to help recent parolees find a job? Or to help better manage government fleet vehicle maintenance? Those may not be the most exciting apps, but they’re the P3s we need now more than ever."

This vote also gives us a chilling look to the future of single party rule.

DickD

What happens when a tax subsidized property goes into receivership due to bankruptcy? Would it be sold to the highest bidder with debts paid off from the residue? If so, where would the tax subsidies fit in - if at all?

mrnatural1

Good questions Dick. [thumbup]

jerseygrl42

Nothing of value for the taxpayers who are being fleeced 3 times with City, County and State money; this is plain and simple a money grab to enrich two families by people we elected to do the right thing on our behalf ...and this surely is NOT the right thing...they all ought to be ashamed but I think they have none

sofanna

Agree wholeheartedly. So much for "taxpayers will not have their property taxes raised to support this" idiotic project. This is a PRIVATE project to be funded by the individuals who originally proposed the project. As usual the public gets screwed.

shiftless88

Burgess; where does the public money come from? Taxes, of course. I keep asking "what if this fails?" and you continually dodge that question by pretending it cannot fail. If it cannot fail, then it does not need public money.

Burgessdr

It comes from taxes on the hotel. Anything can fail. But likelihood is small.

gabrielshorn2013

If the likelihood is small, where are all those investors waiting to get in on this “sure thing”? Answer: There aren’t any, so the developer (Plamondon) to try to mitigate his risk by waiting for that taxpayer funded honeypot. Also, there is plenty of PRE-CONSTRUCTION funding needed. You don’t get revenue for construction from something that does not exist. That funding is coming from state and county taxpayers.

shiftless88

gabriel; exactly! Burgess tries to make it seem like a sure thing but again, if it was a sure thing then a company would do it on their own. We are being used to mitigate risk and we have been screwed many times by this.

Burgessdr

Nothing of value? $800,000 per year in real estate taxes, $450,000 in hotel tax, $130,000 in employee income tax, $70,000 in Plamondon income tax, $400,000 in parking fees, $80,000 in ground rent, $150,000 in sales tax from restaurants, $150,000 in sales tax from shop, entertainment, makes $2.23 million in value.

gabrielshorn2013

Those revenues would also be paid to the city, county, and state if the hotel was privately funded.

KellyAlzan

Such taxes can be paid by an investor that is self-funded. And would not be replenishing public dollars.

Self Funded = no public dollars. All tax revenue can go to good use

Gov't Subsidized = tax revenue goes to pay-back public dollars.

Common Sense

gardenwhimsey

Decrease the number of parking places but increase the number of rooms. I guess all of the employees will be walking to work because there certainly not be anyplace for them to park.

Burgessdr

It is common practice in downtown businesses all over the country for employees to park offsite. Face palm.

KellyAlzan

its common practice for businesses to fund themselves.

mrnatural1

[thumbup][beam]

sofanna

SO WHAT!

threecents

Burgessdr, I think the point is that it will cause more congestion and/or the need to build a new parking garage off site. No?

Burgessdr

There are 150-200 spaces total available in All Saints and Carroll parking decks 2 blocks away.

gabrielshorn2013

Couple of things there don. First, what percentage of parking spaces in those structures are already taken up by current users? Second, I as well as most business travelers usually arrive the night before a meeting. You’re saying that business travelers will be willing to schlep two blocks, with bags and briefcase, through that neighborhood at night? I doubt you would have much repeat business from that traveler. Finally, those customers and employees will park as close to the hotel as they can, taking up spaces needed by the current businesses sand residents.

threecents

Come to think of it, perhaps parking will not be such a big issue. A point of having this downtown is that a high percentage of the guests will be able to walk to wherever they want to go. Hopefully, they will get to the hotel by cab or airport shuttle, right?

Burgessdr

Gabriel you might learn to be informed. The 2015 Walker parking study said there were about 277 parking spaces unused in the All Saints and Carroll decks. Since then Dept of Social Services has moved out of their building on All Saints freeing another 120 spaces for permit holders. That makes about 400 spaces available in those two decks. However, About 140 spaces need to be left for the general public. That still makes about 250 available. On top of about 150 in the hotel garage that makes FOUR HUNDRED SPACES available in close proximity to the hotel. I know you have a 1st amendment right to make say whatever you want, but how about doing your homework once in a while.

gabrielshorn2013

Thanks for inrorming me Don about the availability of parking in decKS 2+ blocks away that will never be used by hotel customers, forcing pre-existing businessesand residents to compete with hotel customers for parking. You offer a solution that is no solution.

Burgessdr

Gabriel you appear to be extremely lazy. People walk two blocks all the time without collapsing from exhaustion. In your alternate slothful universe there would have to be a parking garage on every block. Dumb idea.

gabrielshorn2013

Lazy Don? Hardly. However, how many hotels have YOU stayed at that had inadequate parking? The idea for a hotel is to enhance the customer’s experience. I highly doubt that it would get a good yelp rating. Keep on trolling Don, keep on trolling.

des21

I'm a reasonably fit man but there is NO way I am staying at a hotel that doesn't have adequate parking. People MAY (big may) stay at this place once and, if they can't find parking on site there is no way they will stay again. Sorry if you don't like that Don and call me whatever you like but that's a fact. "Face, Palm?" What are you, 12?

I give this place 5-7 years then bankruptcy. If city residents like Don want it so bad they can clean up the mess.

gabrielshorn2013

There should be one parking space per room, plus parking for staff. Unless the hotel is not expecting full occupancy. Where in the area are these people supposed to park? Parking is already tight in the surrounding area? Is the city going to be on the hook for another taxpayer funded parking deck when the residents of the area complain?

stefcfi

Depends on how long it takes for the "hotel" to go Section8.

Dwasserba

Also...weren't restaurants planned that would draw people who aren't staying there, but would prefer attached parking?

Burgessdr

City code says 120 spaces for 200 room hotel downtown

gabrielshorn2013

So, your goal is to meet minimum city requirements, rather than give travelers a positive experience? No wonder you want the taxpayer funded honeypot for this project. You’re already planning for failure.

Crusty Frederick Man 64

“ Ship of Fools”

gary4books

We may have to wait about that to be sure who is who. So long as the bed bugs do not get us first.

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