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.

Plans to build a hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick cleared the first major hurdle Thursday with a vote of support from city elected officials.

The city Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding with Plamondon Hospitality Partners. The agreement outlines the relationship between the two groups as part of a public-private partnership and represents the key step toward achieving the vision for the $82.47 million project.

The decision came after a detailed outline of the agreement from parties involved in the project, as well as feedback from roughly 20 city residents and representatives of local organizations.

The public weigh-in portion of the meeting featured a range of opinions on the project — from pledges of support to protest that the process failed to engage the local community and puts local taxpayer dollars on the line for private benefit.

The vote of approval was met with applause and congratulatory handshakes among various supporters, who praised the project as a “catalyst” for the downtown, city and county as a whole.

To those who expressed concern, several aldermen said that the MOU is largely a road map, not a binding document, for how the project will proceed.

The most significant of the binding components include the provision that the city of Frederick will take over the deed for the land, not Plamondon. The decision to assign the land to the city instead of the developer came at the recommendation of numerous project consultants, according to Richard Griffin, the city’s economic development director.

The site at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. 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.

Nonbinding elements of the agreement include the funding formula for the total $82.47 million cost, which covers the hotel, conference center and corresponding infrastructure, including a sixth city parking deck.

Preliminary breakdowns included in the MOU estimate that Plamondon will pay $44.12 million through a combination of equity and debt.

The remaining $38.35 million would come from city and county tax-increment financing, tax revenue generated from the project, grant funding and $14.8 million allocated to the Maryland Stadium Authority from the Maryland General Assembly.

In a separate vote, the aldermen also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Maryland Stadium Authority to pay the organization to conduct an independent study of the construction cost estimates for the project. The $53,800 study is necessary for the organization to serve as the vehicle for the city to obtain the $14.8 million of state funding expected to be requested in the next legislative session.

Plamondon and the city will split the cost of the study based on the breakdown of consultant work required for the private and public components of the project. Plamondon will pay about $13,000, while the city will pay about $40,800 — $6,400 for the review of conference center and on-site parking estimates and $34,400 for review of the cost of the sixth parking deck, according to the agreement.

The Maryland Stadium Authority’s board of directors approved the agreement Wednesday, on the condition that city officials and the Maryland General Assembly Budget, Taxation and Appropriations Committee chairmen also approve the document. The committee approvals are expected within the next 30 days.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @Nancy_Lavin228.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

(40) comments

Oscarpot14

This is NOT a "win win" for the taxpayers. Where oh where is the impartiality with these supporters of this endeavor when it comes to a level playing field? THIS NEEDS TO STAND ON ITS OWN MERITS without taxpayer funding. can you hear us now???

bosco

Whatever your opinion of this fine example of corporate welfare is, we need to let our elected officials know. Since the city alderman are already bending over backwards for the Plamondon and Randall families in the rush to spend taxpayer dollars to purchase the land for the Plamondon brothers, the next level will be the county and state representatives. Write or email and let them know your position on spending taxpayer dollars for the benefit of the Plamondon and Randal families. Here's a list of our representatives and their addresses and email addresses:

https://frederickcountymd.gov/1649/Elected-Officials-List

jerseygrl42

such a great deal for...the plamondon and randall families....but for the taxpayers its another LOSER......if the idea is a good one then it should be paid for by the folks who stand to pocket all the profit...if it needs public assistance then its nothing but more corporate welfare....$38 Million could build an elementary school aND GET SOME OF OUR CHILDREN OUT OF TRAILERS DAMMIT .....WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ....GREED

DickD

In full agreement with you!

Frayou

Possibly I don't have enough information or I am just out of touch. I grew up and lived in this county all my life. I witnessed the flooding downtown due to Agnes. I witnessed the justification for condemning of properties so the underground canal could be built with promises of downtown rejuvenification of business. I witnessed the area sitting idle for about 20 years with continued promises of improvements. I'm still not sure if we are witnessing this with the past controversy of building and transferring the BOE downtown and the addition of a few new restrauants? To this day I don't quit understand what the big attraction is with downtown? Street people hanging around the corner. Mugging & robbing and the fears of not wanting to venture too far north, south, west or east of the "square corners". It appears to me it is more about "money" and big down town property owners trying to prop up real estate values and prices. You think the property owners whose properties were condemned got a fair price? I bet they wish they still owned it today? And no. Tax dollars should not be involved with the plan. Especially with all the deficit spending going on in this nation. Again. It sounds like it is all about money and who has it and who will gain the most. It won't be me or you. The little tax payer!

KellyAlzan

What is historic and quaint about a hotel conference center plopped down right smack dab in a historic district?

Since when did a parking lot or pRking deck become aesthetically pleasing?

This whole thing just is wrong.

People have plenty to say about it in the FNP comments but no one is doing anything to stop it outside of commenting here.

- we have schools that desperately need funding and I-270 that needs either widened or a bypass built and our leaders want to use tax payer dollars to subsidize this, a private business venture.

- there is already a conferences center planned.....and it's all happening with PRIVATE funds.

- Frederick does not have the corporate business climate. bechtel has moved. Apple is not head quartered here

- Visitors that come to Frederick are merely day visitors. Frederick is not that big. All you need is a few hrs to check out the city. That, and Walmart has stores all over Maryland now.

- if Plamondon doesn't have the money then find someone who does. Conference centers are built everyday by people that can afford them. Obviously Plamondon can't afford it. So call upon someone who can.

- the soon to be old Walmart site on Monicacy blvd would be a much better site. Plus it sits on a water front. Perhaps I should build a conference center there.

- with the city having a hand in this private venture - what if I want to build a conference center in the city limits - will they hold the monopoly and turn me down?

quemzeee2

I was invovled with Omni and Hyatt Hotels in 1984, They wanted to build a high end hotel here back then. But the powers thought it not the best time to do so. They Market here is perfect for this. This is the best thing ever for Frederick city and County. You have a fantastic product downtown, perfect for placement. We were dubed "Cinderela City" for this very reason. Thank you for doing what our elected people are to do for us all.

Dwasserba

Really?? I think efforts should be concentrated on improving what exists now - Route 40, surrounded by its mix of housing. Improving that would help everyone's investment, from business property owners to business owners to homeowners. Thought sure you'd prioritize this. How does a high end hotel in the district help city taxpayers? Rose colored glasses all around.

Pharaoh473

Good to see another pro downtown Frederick Fan. I to have watched the downtown blossom into what it is today, and this Hotel couldn’t be a better addition.

It amazes me to see the ignorance of people on here. Downtown Frederick is no longer no name city in the backwoods. Visitors flock from all over the country to visit and it’s been increasing dramatically over the past 15 years.

KellyAlzan

That's all fine and dandy, so then find a developer who has the financial ability to execute this without public tax dollars. Simple as that.

bmclearen

Just who is going to stay at the hotel? Is it the vacationers who come to Frederick--I doubt there are a lot of people that plan a vacation in Frederick. Is it big business leaders needing a place to conference---not a bad idea, but where are these leaders coming from? Is it droves of people coming to see the Keys play---not a chance. Are people coming to visit our shops---could be, but mostly from local people making day trips. So, what is the real reason for building this hotel???? I sure hope we aren't trying to convert our sleepy little town to a place like Gaithersburg, or worse, Northern Virginia.

recordhigh

You must never travel long distances by car. This hotel would be exactly the sort of place I would look for on my way to somewhere--a quaint, walk-able town with good restaurants that I could spend part of a day in. I also occasionally take local vacations and spend the night in DC, Baltimore, Annapolis, etc... I assume that there are people close by that would want to have dinner, drinks and spend the night in Frederick from time to time--heck, I might even do it. I've also had a few occasions when I had more guests visit than I could put up at my house. This is the sort of hotel I would probably recommend. As far as the conference center goes, I've been to retreats in out of the way places before--not everyone wants to have a conference or retreat in the middle of DC. I can't be the only person that has these scenarios pop up from time to time.

Anyway, whether tax-payer money should subsidize the construction of this place, I don't know if it makes financial sense, but I bet it will do fine with attracting guests.

Dwasserba

Well, the last paragraph is like a needle stuck in a city taxpayer's eye...yeah, what should we care about "sense" as long as visitors enjoy....

Pharaoh473

Thank you!! Finally someone sees my perspective. I'm guessing the majority of the people commenting don't get out much.

This Hotel would have been by First choice this past Oct for my guests that came from out of town for my wedding, many of whom were from all over the country who have heard great things about downtown Frederick and have always wanted to visit. They stayed over in the Hotel district by the FSK area and although accommodations were fine they all mentioned how much nicer it would have been to have stayed right downtown.

And Taxpayer money or not, you have to spend money to make money, The Hotel will benefit the local economy, which in return befit those living in it.

Sallyforth

From all appearances this is not a good deal for the City, and by that I mean taxpayers. If this hotel is built it will be a huge turning point in the history of Frederick, from a quaint, resident and visitor friendly destination city into a convention location. Get ready for all of the accompanying accoutrements like Starbucks, chain restaurants and more hotels.

employee

Well, we already have Starbucks, chain restaurants and plenty of hotels, so not sure why the downtown hotel/conference center is going to change that.

magnumrn2

I am very happy that this hotel complex is finally becoming a reality. Wonderful project that will enhance the downtown and bring lots of tourists that will benefit the downtown merchants and restaurants. Good for you, Alderman, you did the right thing in your votes. Jean

kimberlymellon

Hello Jean, The problem is that while a downtown hotel may do this, it was economically justified falsely as representing the needs of Ft. Detrick's government civil servants and guests. Truth is, only those who live on your block can afford paying more than government per diem rates and an extra night of cancellation fees per Marriott's new Jan 2014 policy, and won't be staying there. I sincerely hope this TIF for a 7 story glowing hotel tower obstructing the night sky of our historic Clustered Spires doesn't become your biggest tax nightmare. You'll pay for it with the increases to your property value at tax time. It's not too late to change your mind and advocate otherwise. I sincerely hope you will.

magnumrn2

Kim, you made an interesting comment about my residence location. You obviously don't know much about my neighbor. Quite a few of them are retired government employees (such as my husband and myself) or are still employed in various enterprises, including the government. Most of us bought our houses when they were in great need of rehabilitation and poured our hearts and finances into rehabbing them. So much for your insinuation that we are just a bunch of rich, entitled brats. I do want this hotel built downtown and it will bring in money to merchants and restaurant owners. Don't be so quick to judge me and my neighbors, Kim. Jean

Dwasserba

I took her point as illustrating that Fort Detrick's transients won't be there. You want this hotel so, yes, it would seem you are fine with the rates. Not a real leap there. Good to clarify.

kimberlymellon

As a former fellow Carroll Creek/Baker Park resident, I think you may have missed my point. I hope you will do some googling on TIF financing and it's impact upon taxes, or lack of them for schools and other more important municipal projects. Best,
Kimberly

DickD

Well, Kim, not all of us have the two high paying government pensions with guaranteed cost of living raises. Nor do we have so many guests we need to put them up at an expensive downtown hotel and all the money you must have spent renovating a home in the middle of Frederick. How many are there like you - dozen, two dozen? That will really keep the hotel full.

Dwasserba

Not to mention city taxpayers in neighborhoods tourists never see. Maybe we'll secede from the city. Hmmm

quemzeee2

agree totaly with you

bosco

"The city of Frederick will take over the deed for the land" S:PIN ALERT! What this means is the city is going to purchase the land from the Randall family so that the Plamondon brothers can build a hotel that is not needed.

DickD

Yes, look at how the City managed Clustered Spires Golf Course.

bosco

While I love the downtown area for shopping and dining and am not opposed to a downtown hotel, I am opposed to public financing of a private enterprise for the Plamondon brothers. If their proposal is so shaky that it is not viable without taxpayer assistance, then it should not be built. The whole project smacks of corporate welfare designed to benefit the Plamondon brothers and the Randall family of the Frederick News Post.

Small-town, good-old-boy politics in action!

quemzeee2

Thank you Alderman and City. Out standing. Long over due. But due just at the right time. You have all made a star of our downtown area. 25 years ago downtown was literaly a dump. Plamondon is a great managment group.

jerseygrl42

THEY MAY WELL BE A GREAT MANAGEMENT GROUP BUT I DO NOT WANT THEM TO MANAGE MY MONEY

Dwasserba

Clearly not loud enough. Good try though

Dwasserba

Yes it was a dump and it's been a long road with a lot of sweat and tears and relocation, and now not just downtown's taxes go up as it gets harder to get to and get around, for city taxpayers from other neighborhoods. But we can read about it in the fnp because the Randalls remain secure. Whew. I do enjoy reading. Hope I can continue to afford the subscription.

cldeboin

What will the traffic flow in and out of the post office become; when it is already "shaky" at best, seeking and finding a parking spot; and entering into crowded traffic; (especially) on a First Saturday weekend?

jwhamann

Lots of new jobs for valet parking.

Sallyforth

[thumbup]

bosco

Conventions means more jobs for hooked too.

Dwasserba

Oh. The post office will be leaving. There are already rumors. They don't need all that space. Apartments or condos with first floor stores, maybe a hotel. The post office is history. What a waste of bricks. Mail? What's that?

DickD

So, we can't fund schools but we can support Plamondon so they can make hu.ge profits. The County better not give them any tax money. I am a totally disgusted tax payer.

m21701m

I normally cringe at 99% of what you say but this one I can't agree more. Plamondon has more than enough money to go at this alone, I'm not willing to be a forced partner. The additional tax revenue will get lost in the "general fund".

DickD

Most conservatives do not agree with me, but I am a fiscal conservative, social liberal, I make no apologies fo

DeDeuceCoupe32

If Plamondon manages taxpayer money like FCPS, you should be a disgusted taxpayer. Welcome to the club DD.

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