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.