Anyone who wants to weigh in on the details of an agreement between the city and developers Plamondon Hospitality Partners regarding Frederick’s proposed downtown hotel and conference center can do so Thursday before members of the Board of Aldermen vote on it.

At a lengthy special workshop in late May, the proposed memorandum of understanding attracted dozens of speakers who put in their two cents on not only the agreement itself but also the project as a whole. The agreement is one element of the proposed multimillion-dollar hotel and conference center slated for 200-212 E. Patrick St. and will replace the most recent one city officials and developers inked in December 2015. It is set to come together with both public and private dollars, with the lion’s share coming from the developers, with the city, county and state pitching in the remainder.

The agreement set for a vote Thursday maps out the public and private cost share estimates between the city and the developers, as well as development details for the project, which has been one of the most talked-about city projects in the last several years.

A few changes were made to the agreement based on feedback from the aldermen and members of the public at the workshop. They included the following:

  • Adding the formula for calculating ground lease rent.
  • Committing the city and Plamondon to develop a historic mitigation work plan and to continue working with the Maryland Historic Trust.
  • Committing Plamondon and the city to carry out the general intent of the city’s purchasing policies and procedures and providing opportunity to a range of qualified contractors for public parking and the garage.
  • Committing that besides the on-site parking the city is providing, that the partners should collaboratively develop an overflow parking management plan that may include local and off-site facilities and satellite parking resources to accommodate the increased number of vehicles.
  • Clarifying that any cost overruns for public infrastructure the city does not cause are solely the responsibility of the developer.
  • Including an element stating that the developers intend for all project components, including the renovation of the historic Railway Terminal Building, be constructed and open concurrently.

The public will have another chance to weigh in on these changes, as well as all details of the proposed agreement, at the public hearing set for 7 p.m. Thursday in the city’s municipal annex.

Public events could be allowed throughout city

Assembling a group of people for a public event may become easier this summer almost anywhere in the city.

Festivals, shows and other “temporary public assembly events” are currently allowed only in the general commercial, downtown commercial/residential, light industrial and mixed use districts.

A proposed text amendment, which received unanimous support from the Planning Commission last week, would extend that allowance to all districts in the city.

“The impetus for this was every year, when the warm weather comes around, and we see a variety of community organizations,” said Gabrielle Collard, the city’s division manager of current planning, in last week’s meeting. “Shopping centers have a lot of events, customer service appreciation days. We would like to provide that opportunity for them.”

Planning commissioners did not have much to say about the contents of the amendment before casting their 5-0 vote in favor of sending a positive recommendation for approval to the Board of Aldermen. The elected officials will have the final say on the amendment and take up the details at an upcoming public hearing.

Organizers must still obtain permits from the city to host the events, which Collard said are good for a week. She also said they can apply for as many permits as they wish.

The proposed amendment also clarifies some language in the existing ordinance to state that organizers classified as vendors and peddlers are subject to operate events under those provisions.

Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska.

(35) comments

glenkrc

Downtown, north of the creek: Arguably, the least diverse census tract in Frederick. And with increased gentrification, likely to stay that way. We need to spend more money on the downtown, so that we can raise more tax revenue, so we can spend more money on the downtown....

http://www.nytimes.com/projects/census/2010/map.html?hp

mrnatural1

Regarding the comparison that was made between property taxes paying for our public schools and taxpayers partially funding what should be a 100% private business venture:

1) That is a false equivalence. "Free" K-12 education for all benefits everyone, our entire society. Public funding of private projects primarily helps the recipient of those taxpayer dollars.

2) Without money from property taxes, our school system would shut down. Ignorance -- already a serious problem -- would destroy our country. If a private project does not get public assistance, it will either be completed anyway (if it is truly worthwhile) or it will fail miserably (if it was a flawed idea to begin with).

If it succeeds, great! Capitalism and our free enterprise system smiled upon it.

If it fails, well, then we dodged a bullet. The taxpayers aren't out any money, and/or left with a white elephant to maintain and attempt to dispose of. Maybe the next private project will fare better.

3) Most thoughtful people realize the benefit of having educated citizens and neighbors and don't mind paying for public education. My wife and I don't have kids, but rather than complain that we're 'paying to educate other people's kids', we realize that education is critically important -- it strengthens our county, state, and country and improves the quality of life for everyone.

The same cannot be said of these 'public risk for private gain' projects.

Burgessdr

Most thoughtful people realize the benefit of having jobs for citizens and neighbors. My wife and I already have good jobs, but realize that economic development projects are critically important -- it strengthens our county, state, and country and improves the quality of life for everyone.

gabrielshorn2013

Excellent response Mr. Natural! Who could possibly argue with that! Wait...
[blink][thumbup]

mrnatural1

Thanks Gabriel!

BWT -- I know my post below is relatively long but there is a lot of good ammo there for anyone opposed to this hotel project.

It is all brief "bullet points". Unfortunately we cannot highlight, underline, etc, here. One more reason forum software would be a big improvement (and bring more traffic to the FNP's website...).

Just to be clear, I am quoting from someone else's blog -- he is a retired law professor who lives in Iowa. They have the same problems out there.

PS: Good job handling the troll. [cool]

mrnatural1

Here is a list of blog entries that lay out some of the reasons why TIFs -- "Tax Increment Financing" or public funding of private enterprise -- are a very bad idea:
https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2014/03/tifs-links-to-blog-essays.html

Here is just one (of dozens) and an excerpt:
https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2014/04/tussling-over-tifs-pros-and-cons.html

Quote:

"The issue is not whether a TIF has a single benefit. Benefit-cost analysis requires we total all the costs and burdens of that TIF and weigh them against its individual benefit.

Few if any can pass that test.

Ideological hypocrisy: How can those supporting free private enterprise, capitalism, and marketplace forces, who think “government is the problem” and want it “off their back,” justify taking money from the public collection plate?

Anti-democratic: City councils need voters’ approval of bonds for legitimate government projects. Yet they can give our money to their friends’ private projects on a whim.

Lowered credit rating: TIFs can impact credit ratings. Coralville [Iowa] went from a Moody Aaa credit rating, the highest, to a “lower medium grade” Baa2 in two years.

Opportunity costs: Spending money on one thing costs the lost opportunity to spend it elsewhere. As a result, either we pay more taxes or Supervisors cut needed programs.

Unfairness to competitors: TIFs tilt the playing field. They unfairly upset a free market, punishing honest competitors and benefiting no one except the TIF recipient.

Risky business: Money’s always available for good deals. If an entrepreneur, family, friends, investors, venture capitalists, and banks aren’t willing to fund a project, maybe taxpayers shouldn’t either.

TIFs complicate taxes: We don’t deserve more tax complexity and even less transparency.

TIFs are unnecessary: We already have what businesses want: skilled labor, transportation and communication infrastructure, quality education, cultural attractions and outdoor recreation.

TIF grantors’ poor skills, record: The subsidy-grantors' record is not great. Elected officials are more skilled at keeping contributors and constituents happy than at evaluating taxpayer-funded business proposals. TIFed projects have gone belly up, missed deadlines, and new jobs goals. With reasonable follow-up and transparency we’d know about many more.

“Need” is unknowable: Many projects will go ahead without subsidy. If tax breaks are available, of course developers will say they need them. Maybe this is blackmail. Maybe they need to look harder for funding. There’s no way to know.

At a minimum, here are questions to ask before approving TIFs:

Why is this project needed?

Why does that need exceed all conventional needs for public funds?

Of all possible TIF projects, why is this one a top priority?

Who benefits: all citizens, a small segment or primarily the recipient?

How much money is involved?

Why are those who will profit unwilling to invest what is needed? Are their reasons equally applicable to taxpayer funding?

If and when the recipient fails, skips town, goes bankrupt, or misses deadlines, how will taxpayers be protected?

What relationships are there between the potential recipient and the officials approving the funding?

How will the recipient’s unfunded private competitors be harmed?"

###

There is a whole lot more at the top link -- many suggestions for questions to ask Thursday night.

Burgessdr

Good job mrnatural. I see you are able to do a Google search and then repost somebodys blog. Such amazing insights you have. May I call you professor? Pulitzer Prize material.

gabrielshorn2013

And I see that you are a full member of the "Wrecked 'Em" club. Good job!

mrnatural1

Burgessdr:

Would you have preferred that I be dishonest and post as if it were my own writing?

What if it were a post from my blog -- what would your reaction be then?

Instead of engaging in sophomoric sarcasm, how about staying on topic and answering even a couple of the questions and/or debating some of the multiple valid points made in that post?

Oh, and yes, you may call me professor -- Professor Natural.

gabrielshorn2013

If thé city is using county and state funds for a private business, shouldn't those of us outside the city have a say in this? If this venture was expected to be profitable, wouldn't the developers be able to fully fund the venture with their own money or get investors to pony up? Therefore, we can only conclude that there is too much risk to make it attractive, so the developers are counting on the taxpayer funded honeypot to eliminate the risk. NO TAXPAYER FUNDING! !!

Burgessdr

The only taxpayer money that is being used is taxes on the hotel itself. Hotel tax on the hotel itself, property tax on the hotel itself, and income and sales tax revenue from the hotel itself. Plus parking fees from parking at the hotel garage. Is that so hard to understand?

gabrielshorn2013

Don't even bother dude. You have zero credibility on this issue. The public funding for this project has been widely written about in this newspaper and others. Give it up already. Nobody is going to fall for your continued lies.

Burgessdr

The sources of funding have been written about many times. $4 million from real estate taxes on the hotel. $3.5 million from parking revenue. $3 million from hotel taxes on the hotel. $2 million from ground rent on the hotel property. $5 million from new income and sales taxes from the hotel. None of that is that is public funding. Sorry you have a reading disability.

gabrielshorn2013

Wow, reading disability? I guess everyone that knows the truth and disagrees with you has a disability, and they are the vast majority of residents. Fact is, those revenue streams to the public coffers would be there regardless, as they would for any hotel. What you are either deliberately unaware of, or are purposely lying about, is that public funding will be used for the construction or this project at its beginning. Quit being a troll.

gabrielshorn2013

I guess your superior reading ability failed to pick up this little tidbit in the story just above the comments : "It is set to come together with both public and private dollars, with the lion’s share coming from the developers, with the city, county and state pitching in the remainder." Try reading for content next time troll.

Burgessdr

If the hotel is not built there will be no tax revenue.

The city, county, and state regularly provide tax credits for businesses that create many jobs.

The county and city provided real estate based tax funding for AstraZeneca MedImmune to the tune of about $7 million several years ago. The city has tax credit manufacturing that starts at 100% for the first year and slides down to 20% in year 10, the city and county have a new jobs tax credit that starts at 50% in 1st year and slides down to 25% in the 6th year, the city has both a Golden Mile tax credit and a vacant commercial property tax credit that can be as high as 100% tax credit for the first 5 years. The state funded the Bakery de France plant 10 years ago to the tune of $2.5 million, the state funded the Frederick Brewery Company plant to the tune of $4.5 million about 10-15 years ago, and the city will provide large tax credits to the Flying Dog Brewery expansion.

So why did you not complain about all of these tax based financing by the city, county, and the state? Uninformed?

mrnatural1

[thumbup][thumbup] gabriel!

gabrielshorn2013

And you think that I wouldn't because..?
See Mr. Natural's responst. TIFS are NEVER a goo idea for all of those reasons he stated. Let me say it again for you, NO TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR PRIVATE BUSINESS VENTURES. Clear yet?

Burgessdr

Let me say to you, NO PRIVATE BUSINESS SHOULD HAVE TO PAY TAXES TO SEND YOUR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL. Pay for it yourself. Is that clear?

gabrielshorn2013

Ok, I see that you are in the old man "Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!" club. What's a matter bud? Jealous that you could never have kids of your own? You'd make a peach of a Pop. Schools are paid for by property taxes BTW, not business taxes. We, as a country, value education of everyone as an investment in our nation's future.

Burgessdr

BTW Property taxes are paid by private business for the property they own. Since you are so super smart and knowledgeable, please tell me what is the percentage of property taxes paid by businesses in the county? And why should they pay property taxes to send your children to school?

gabrielshorn2013

Please don’t be so obtuse. Property taxes are paid by all property owners, public or private, unless they are exempted (such as churches). The fact that it is a business is irrelevant. Property taxes are directed to support education, capice?

Burgessdr

So it boils down to that you are a mooch. You dont mind businesses paying property taxes to provide for schools for your children, but are opposed to business property taxes to be used for economic development that provide jobs and generate revenue and income taxes.

gabrielshorn2013

False equivalence and you know it. Are the users of public roads mooches? Should we each have our own private armies? How about police and fire? Schools are no different in that respect, as that everyone benefits regardless of income or social stature. This is the "provide for the common defense,...provide for the common welfare" that the Constitution embodies. The hotel is none of these, and seeks to enrich a very few. The jobs created? A few decent paying jobs, but the rest are minimum wage food service, bellhops, and cleaning staff who must support themselves on tips. The hospitality industry is notorious for low wages.

jerseygrl42

The reporter never tells the readers how many Millions of taxpayer dollars are planned for this endeavor of greed...working hard for their former boss, Randall.
Just another money grab at a time when according to Jan we have a $500 Million infra-structure deficit.....why should the taxpayers support with their hard earned dollars ,increasing the wealth of two families...this is an UGLY deal that should NEVER happen and shame on the elected officials who are pushing this

BstD59

I fail to understand why any public money is going to be used to help pay a for-profit private company's folly?

gardenwhimsey

It should not be the mayor and aldermen who make the decision about spending our money on this hotel. It should be on a ballot and let the citizens make the decision.

mrnatural1

Absolutely gardenwhimsey! [thumbup][thumbup]

Burgessdr

The citizens did make the decision. Who do you think elected the Mayor and BOA? Guess you must have not voted.

DickD

The City gets to define the agreement, yet they are using State taxes and County hotels are being taxed to provide money for it. If I were the City I would vote for it. You just know that the rest of the County and State are going to love this.

Burgessdr

No hotels in the county are being taxed except for the Downtown Hotel. Such a liar.

DickD

No sense in my repeating what Gabriel has already said, but we all know who the liar is Don.

gabrielshorn2013

Trollin', trollin', trollin',
Don Burgess keeps on trollin'
My God!

KellyAlzan

Let’s hope these city politicians use some common sense on this.

DickD

You have more faith in that than I do, Kelly.

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