Like many major construction and development projects, plans for a downtown hotel and conference center in Frederick have been a long time in the making, and have evolved significantly from the first few proposals put forward more than a decade ago.

Before today’s feasibility studies, memorandums of understanding between the city and developers, and state bond bills, there were mainly early concepts and ideas — at least seven of them, dating back to 2003.

These early concepts were submitted to the city over the transom and unsolicited long before any official request for proposals was published years later.

The city recently shared copies with The Frederick News-Post of these early proposals after a reporter requested them.

Today’s project proponents, who include everyone from the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Frederick Partnership and the local tourism council say these early unsolicited proposals played a central role in shaping the current plan.

Richard Griffin, the city’s economic development director, said these early concepts helped the city figure out what developers might actually be able to build considering some of the constraints of the project — that it was to be in the historic district, was right next to a major flood-control project, Carroll Creek, and would need additional, probably underground parking.

“We actually learned a lot about what the market supports and what the community wants [from the early concepts],” he said in an interview earlier this month. “It helped lead everybody to decide that putting a Request for Proposals out and having a selection process was really important.”

From that RFP, a bid was awarded to Plamondon Hospitality Partners, a 20-year-old Frederick company that owns or operates six hotels in Frederick and Washington counties all branded with Marriott franchises. The latest version of the plan calls for a 200-room hotel with 24,000 square feet of conference center space with on-site parking and infrastructure improvements at the site of the old Frederick News-Post building.

The property at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. is currently owned by a business entity formed by various members of the Randall family. The Randall family also owns the parent company of The News-Post.

The $84 million project will be funded through a public-private partnership, with $53 million put up by the developer and $31 million from various public funding sources, including the city, county and state, according to the latest project cost estimates.

Proposals

Earlier ideas submitted to the city included everything from a creekside boutique hotel downtown to a hotel and conference center with a laboratory at Fort Detrick and a mixed-use redevelopment for an entire block of East Patrick Street.

The first concept dates to 2003, with a two-page site plan for a hotel and conference center east of downtown, between the Frederick Fairgrounds and Frederick Municipal Airport. Plans for the Frederick Arena, as it was called, were submitted by Frederick Industrial Park Associates. They called for a 125- to 150-room hotel with 51,000-square feet of conference center space and a 6,000-seat arena.

Albert Cohen, listed on the concept drawing as the contact with Frederick Industrial Park Associates, never pursued the plans, according to Griffin. Randy Cohen, the resident agent for the limited partnership according to state tax records and son of Albert Cohen, declined to comment for this story.

Cohen owns the FSK Holiday Inn out by the Francis Scott Key Mall. He plans to redevelop that property with two new hotels and a 34,000-square-foot conference center, according to plans approved in November 2015 by the Frederick County Planning Commission.

Cohen has voiced strong opposition to the downtown hotel project’s reliance on public funding compared with his project, which will be paid for entirely through private dollars. Cohen has also hired powerhouse Annapolis lobbyist, Bruce Bereano, to represent his interests in the state capital.

In the 10 years after that initial proposal by the Cohens, six additional hotel proposals were offered up for consideration. The proposals ranged from a single page drawing of a 26-room boutique hotel in the Creekside Plaza building to a 20-page proposal to redevelop the 200 block of East Patrick Street with a mix of residential units, commercial space and parking, as well as a hotel and conference center.

The boutique hotel, coined “Voltique” was put forth by business partners Hilda Staples and Bryan Voltaggio, who own a series of area restaurants, including Volt and Family Meal.

The 20-page mixed use plan for East Patrick Street came from Frederick-based Dillon Development Partners and Little & Associates Architects, of Arlington, Virginia. The 2007 proposal included conceptual drawings, parking and zoning data and site conditions for each of the four lots encompassed in the plans — the former offices of The Frederick News-Post at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. and the U.S. Post Office distribution center and parking sites at 201 and 240 E. Patrick St.

This proposal was intended as a “potential solution of mixed-use buildings that is consistent with the ... zoning, sensitive to the scale of surrounding areas, and would develop a lively pedestrian-friendly link,” the document stated.

Also in 2007, Fort Detrick was floated as a potential site for a hotel and conference center project.

In 2010, Rocky Mackintosh, president of MacRo Ltd., a commercial real estate firm, introduced his own plans for a four-property site centered around the Mackintosh property at the corner of South East and All Saints streets.

Whittling away

These five early proposals all ended at the conceptual stage.

Fort Detrick officials decided a hotel and conference center wasn’t the best use of land at the military installation, The Frederick News-Post reported.

City aldermen agreed to extend a long-term lease with the National Park Service for the 5 Commerce St. building included in Mackintosh’s proposal, nixing that possibility.

As for the Voltique proposal, in a phone interview earlier this month, Staples said she barely remembered the details of the plan. She framed the concept as more of a conversation-starter than a well-defined plan.

Greg Dillon, founder of Dillon Development Partners, declined to comment when asked in a phone interview on Monday why his company never pursued its East Patrick Street redevelopment plans.

That left two other unsolicited proposals, submitted in 2010 and 2013 by The Wormald Companies, a 50-year old home building company, and Plamondon Hospitality Partners, respectively. Of the original seven, only these two were left on the table as possibilities by the time the city published its RFP in February 2014.

The city gave JLL, formerly known as Jones Lang Lasalle, the consultant hired to help craft and work through the RFP process, a list of close to 100 development and commercial real estate companies and individuals to contact to gauge their potential interest in the project. A copy of the list was shared with The News-Post.

Several of those who submitted unsolicited proposals, including Randy Cohen and the owners of Frederick Brick Works, which Dillon Partners worked with, were on the list.

Side by side

Despite the lengthy list of contacts, and the 70 people that downloaded the RFP during the time it was open, only two companies submitted proposals: Wormald and Plamondon.

Plamondon’s response to the RFP largely mirrored the unsolicited proposal the company presented to the city a few months before. Each version of the Plamondon plan called for a 200-room hotel with a 25,000-square-foot conference center at the former News-Post offices at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St.

The 53-page document listed credentials for an extensive project team that included architects, preservationists and experts in private debt and equity financing. It includes renderings, site drawings, references to relevant market studies and an informal list of construction cost estimates.

The Wormald Companies’ response to the proposal included many of the same elements, though some were in less detail. The 2014 plans also amended the scope of their 2010 submission, although both used the company’s Galleria property on East Street along the south side of the creek as the project location.

The earlier 10-page document Wormald submitted in 2010 detailed a mixed-use project that included a 183-room hotel with 21,500 square-foot conference center, 39 residential units, retail space and on-site parking. Four years later, in response to the RFP, Wormalds narrowed its focus to a 220-room hotel with a 20,000-square-foot conference center.

Members of the Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee evaluated each proposal based on the criteria outlined in the RFP: financial capacity and experience of the development team; design, economic impact and scope of the project; schedule; and amount of private versus public funding required.

Both proposals were strong, Griffin said. But Plamondon “quickly became the clear choice” when scored on the relevant criteria.

Pete Plamondon Jr., co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, estimated his company spent close to $100,000 in what he described as the “due diligence” necessary to submit a proposal, a year-long process that involved multiple outside consultants.

Ed Wormald, owner and manager of The Wormald Cos., declined to give an estimate of the cost to put together his proposal, but said the work included a team of seven to 10 people over the course of a month.

Both company leaders emphasized the amount of work and level of experience necessary to respond to the RFP.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Plamondon said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “It costs a lot of money. It takes a lot of time.”

He also said he wasn’t surprised that the two submissions came from companies with Frederick roots. “You really have to have an understanding of the community,” he said.

Griffin also emphasized the rigorous requirements of the RFP as one reason why the city received only two proposals.

The city would have welcomed, or even preferred more, he said. But the city also didn’t want anything half-hearted or half-done, what Griffin termed “tire-kickers.”

“We wanted companies that were up to the task,” he said in an interview earlier this month.

Questions of scope

One of the limiting factors in the RFP is that the project had to be located on one of four downtown sites. Anyone who submitted a response to the RFP had either to own one of these properties, or persuade the existing property owners to partner with them.

Wormald owned one of the properties, a 1.7-acre site along East Street known as the Galleria property. Since the company submitted a plan for its own site, it was unlikely to offer it up to another development company.

That left three options: the old News-Post site; the Union Mills site on East Patrick Street, owned by Douglas Development Corp; and the U.S. Postal Service site on East Patrick Street.

Not all were equally viable, though.

The post office site, in particular, may have been difficult for a private developer to purchase. U.S. General Services Administration guidelines allow Postal Service properties to be sold under two methods: Either the Postal Service’s hired real estate agency, CBRE Group, can advertise the property for sale on the general market, or the service can enter into an exchange agreement with a local government, such as the city of Frederick or Frederick County.

William Correa, CEO of Paragon Project Resources, said his company quickly ruled out the post office site when examining the four potential options. The Dallas-based project engineering and development company, which also has offices in Annapolis, was interested in submitting a proposal, Correa said in a phone interview earlier this month.

But the company wasn’t successful in persuading the owners of the remaining properties to get on board. “Unfortunately, they already had other arrangements,” Correa said.

Property owners also had the option of joining with multiple developers to submit different plans for the same property. In fact, that would have increased the odds, at least from a statistical point of view, of having that property chosen for the plan, Griffin noted.

“We encouraged property owners that they were more than welcome to do that,” Griffin said.

Griffin acknowledged that the four specific sites may have limited the number of submissions. But it was a deliberate decision based on intent for a central downtown location, he said.

Griffin referred to studies that show people will generally not walk farther than a quarter-mile to retail, dining and other entertainment options. To capitalize on the burgeoning availability of such businesses along Market and Patrick streets, the project team focused on potential hotel sites within that distance, he said.

“The ultimate decision was to limit [the sites] so we could make certain whatever project we got would achieve the goals related to investment in that retail corridor,” he said. “The minute you get far enough that you can’t walk and have to drive, you lose that.”

Though he was unable to secure a site for a proposal, Correa said he thought the process was fair and the project that developed from it was a good one. “I think they’re very capable and astute,” he said of the parties involved in the current project plans.

Wormald agreed. He described the RFP process as “orderly and methodical.”

Mackintosh, meanwhile, took credit for helping to get the project “off the ground” with his 2010 concept.

“We really just wanted to get the whole process jump-started,” he said. “We did that.”

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @NancyKLavin.

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

(38) comments

elymus43

The way Frederick city is being run now reminds a person of the way Washington Metro System is being run now. People should remember to vote in the next election. City Hall needs a complete change starting with the Mayor and BOA.

nbouqu1

[thumbup]

matts853

It sure seems like griffin is the de facto mayor of the city. Let's be honest, the only site that was gong to be considered was the Randall property. The fix was in from the beginning. And I don't appreciate the post script attack on Jane Weir, a concerned private citizen doing her homework and getting disrespected and discredited in the process by a newspaper owned by the Randall family. This whole thing is disgraceful, not to mention a loss leader for the taxpayers.

kimberlymellon

Agree!

jthompson

Mr. Griffin's raison d'etre is that the only thing keeping Frederick from tuning into a ghost town, complete with tumbleweeds drifting down Market Street, is to facilitate huge transfers of wealth from the public coffers for the benefit of multi-national, multi-billion $$ private business entities whose top officers and directors pay themselves hundreds of thousands, in not millions, of dollars a year in salaries, bonuses, stock options, golden parachutes and deferred compensation.

DickD

Very true, Matt. There are plenty of people looking to replace the Frederick mayor.[thumbup][thumbup]

bicep42

I'm sorry, but the FNP has a financial interest in this deal and cannot be trusted to report the facts in an unbiased manner. The proposed toxic site for the hotel, the old FNP building, will be purchased by the city for 3X market value. In 8 years, they have not been able to unload this tainted parcel of land. The plans for the hotel allow a pittance for remediation of toxic chemicals to make it safe for the public. The amount is just over $100,000 which is laughable.
The Historic Preservation Commission HAS NOT been consulted about the design of the proposed building, even though they have requested multiple times to be involved in this project.
The fabricated premise that no taxpayer funds will be used for this hotel is an outright untruth.
Why is the city purchasing a tainted parcel of land for the developer?
Why aren't multiple developers chomping at the bit to build a self financed hotel in downtown Frederick? Why does it require corporate welfare?
Why do the documents provided by the city to private citizens prove that the procurement process was irregular at best and possibly worse?

Hammer

The sidebar states: "A handful of local residents who are implacably against the downtown hotel..." That is not true, the opponents of this public financing plan have all stated they've support a dopwntown hotel privately financed and apprpriate size and scale for downtown! The FNP shows its true colors.

kimberlymellon

Agree. They've misrepresented citizen's concerns and failed to challenge the City on its misrepresentations of funding. Not to mention some very expensive lunches billed by Griffin and JLL to City taxpayers.

AnotherFineMess

"Build it and they will come!"
Not really, these projects have an exceptionally high failure rate. They often sit empty. Even larger cities with enormous and numerous attractions find these money pots sit empty.

On the City's website for the hotel, you'll find many outright lies (no public money will be used) and slightly hilarious claims!

Downtown Frederick has many attractive transit options! OK.... You can't fly here, there is no regular rail service here, no metro or regular subway service here!

Attractive? Whoever wrote that has never slogged through traffic up and down 270 over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, 2 of the closest airports lien in the DC area.

NO, the only option is to drive! Then you'll have to find parking. Parking that was essential to the survival of the project was consistsntly ignored!

The bait and switch scam by the proponents was to have the TIF fund the $28M deck 6. That's how this was sold to the public recently. NOW the public will pay for deck 6 just like any other deck. Right out of their own pockets. SO, what about that $31M, gift to the Plamadons? It's still there! The financial report, shows only $8M for the conference center and maybe $5.7M for some unknown parking. Everything else just lines Plamadons pockets!

Deck 6 will regularly be sectioned off for use by the hotel/conference center only! That's the only way it will work! A publicly funded garage that will be controlled by private business!

Total cost to you now! $58M! your parking rates and fines have already skyrocketed to help pay for the hotels deck 6!

Remember, no public money will be used!

bicep42

Don't forget that the greyhound bus is right nearby! 😂😂

DickD

Whoop de do![lol]

KellyAlzan

This is the biggest bunch of absolute nonsense.

This news story.

And the project.

All a developer has to do is contact a private investor such as SwAN Investments out of Leesburg Va. SwAN could very well be interested in funding this.....and not one cent of public money would be needed.

Google SwAN Investments. These are the people that bought the Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry.

Speaking of H-ferry. Who knows when, but there will one day be a hotel / conference facility there. People - harpers ferry isn't much further away from Fredericks targeted clientele in the DMV area. If you were looking to hold a biz conference and you had a choice of:
A) a facility on top of a hill overlooking (2) large natural rivers and federal parkland
Or
A facility overlooking a man made concrete creek surrounded by streets, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters......

Which would you choose? To me, it's a no-brainier, harpers ferry is going to be more desirable.

jthompson

Developers prefer to get their financing from entrepreneurial capitalists ("ECs"), thereby keeping their financing out of the newspapers, talk shows and blogs. ECs are the folks who have sufficient resources to invest in somewhat risky projects on the rational that 9 out of 10 deals will go south but the one that takes off will strike oil, thereby offsetting losses on the deals that didn't. However, because they are risking their own money (unlike gubmint officials) they tend to want an anticipated return commensurate with the risks, i.e., an anticipated return substantially greater than the return on "safe" investments. If that anticipated return to so high that it leaves too little profit for the developer, it is Mother Nature's way of saying the deal is too risky. That might explain why the previous proposals didn't proceed.

DickD

They are going to figure out how to steal our tax dollars for the Plamondons and Randalls one way or another. God help us all! Thank you Jane Weir, if I can help you, let me know, I despise the lies and subterfuge we are being fed. Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

Jane and Ed

Thank you! We welcome your help. We all need to work together to stop this corruption and to ensure that Frederick's first Downtown hotel is the product of a fair and open process. We deserve a beautiful hotel that compliments our beloved City. One that is well-designed, located on an environmentally clean site, which is financially viable without Millions coming from taxpayers. Other cities have been able to do this, and so can we. Please join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1498307467136953

jerseygrl42

Nice article as far as it goes but unfortunately the parking garage is one of the key ingredients and it was again left out of the article....I wonder why, as it will cost approx. $20 Million and be a huge part of the taxpayer contribution to the two families that will gain if this goes forward, so in reality Nancy, the taxpayer piece will exceed $50 Million, more than enough to build one of the elementary schools needed in order to get our school kids out of trailers and into classrooms. If this project cannot stand without public money it should NOT be built and I think we all know that the $51 Millon is only the beginning with the arsenic laden property that will need to be abated prior to construction and about which NO ONE involved in this is saying a word......

kimberlymellon

The article is generally thorough but I take issue with it's giant leap past the unlawful local favoritism clause in the RFP utilizing County and State monies it that was intended to deter outside bidders and its presumption that citizens against the expenditure of public dollars on a private enterprise equals an anti-hotel stance. To quote, "$31 million from various public funding sources, including the city, county and state, according to the latest project cost estimates."
Section 1, Item 6 of the RFP 'Local Preference Policy' provides an Affidavit of Eligibility where the vendor may declare eligibility of Frederick City preference due to its business address with qualifying major 5% or more of the total contract price. Vendors know this clause in RFPs is a death knell to opportunity and subsequently not worth their time and money. The procuring party has limited the responses, more commonly, to narrow the field to a manageable number of likely respondents, or for economic support of a local community. Which, tho the policy sounds goods, smacks of bias and everything but 'open for business' and community growth. Still, it's Frederick City's right to pass this local law and apply it to its procurement. BUT it's NOT ok or legal to place this restriction upon Frederick City's use of taxpayer (property and business vendors) dollars being provided by the County, State and Fed.
As the article states and Griffin attempted to circumvent on the Post Office site, Procurement of Federal property must be open to all qualifying bidders, and equally so for County and State Vendors, like Wormald and the Others. BUT this did not happen. Placed right at the front on Page 6 of Plamondons flashy Proposal was Plamondon's Affadavit for Vendor Preference utilizing a New Design Road Address. What this article also fails to cover, is the rating sheet from the Selection Committee. We have been denied access to these sheets that would help us to assess iif this Local Preference was properly quantified over the only other Vendor willing to take a chance that they, a Gathersburg based Maryland vendor would been seen favorably and qualifying for state funds the City is requesting from The Maryland Stadium Authority.
Which leads me to my second issue with this article. The majority of those of us questioning this project are elated and in complete agreement that a downtown hotel is a great idea! Where we part company with Mr Griffin and his ever evolving statements and excuses, is that this project can and would be done without his outrageous need or request for $31 million and rising in public taxpayer support. Not only does this article point out that a hotel, with its own privately included conference space, has almost occurred on multiple occasions had it not been for Mr. Griffin's improper and possibly illegal 'steering', it point out that he and a select group are willing to do so at great risk taxpayers and financial harm to hoteliers and economic development of the surrounding City growth less than 3 miles away at the 'gateway' to our beautiful downtown Frederick. We don't need this towering financial and physical monster of a building shadowing our historic spires to attract tourism to downtown Frederick. But it will happen, if you, as citizens don't put a stop to Richard Griffin. Please call or email him today and ask him why he's stopping Frederick's free market from allowing multiple small boutique hotels with residences to blend into our City, with no public financing, like Annopolis. Write your delegates and elected officials and Declare THIS procurement RFP Illegal. Thank you!

kimberlymellon

Sorry for typos, friends. Thumbing in a tiny square on an IPAD this am. [wink]

gdunn

"our" you don't even live in Frederick County.

kimberlymellon

GDunn, I see. You don't mind that I pay Frederick County Property taxes or that you also want my State Taxes from Washington County to fund this hotel, but you also think I shouldn't have an opinion about your taking them from me.

Jane and Ed

The City of Frederick, MD hired Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to work with Plamondon Hospitality Partners ( PHP) at nearly 20 times as many hours as with the only other developer who submitted a proposal. Plamondon then won the contract.

Between February 27, 2013 and December 2015, the city of Frederick paid Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) $334,000 for Downtown Hotel Development Consulting services.

Our Concerned Citizens group used the Public Information Act request to extract JLL Consultant invoices and contracts from the City. A review of the JLL invoices, adding up the numbers of hours billed specifically to work with PHP, revealed at least 4 JLL consultants were each paid $155 per hour for 80 plus hours to consult with Plamondon.

By law, the city was required to issue a Request for Proposals to give all interested developers an equal opportunity to submit their proposals to build the city’s first Downtown Hotel Conference Center complex. While JLL consultants continued to bill the city for hours working with Plamondon on their proposal-presentation, the invoices show the same JLL consultants were drafting the (Local Preference) Request for Proposals (RFP). On Feb 20, 2014, JLL invoiced the City to “distribute the RFP”. The deadline for responses (proposals) to the Request for Proposals was May 9, 2014. The city received only two proposals. One was from Plamondon and the other was from Wormald. In contrast, with the 80 hours JLL consulted for Plamondon, JLL invoiced the city to consult for Wormald (the only other bidder on the proposal), a total of 4.5 hours.

In addition to working excessively with one of the two developers, the City paid JLL to devise the hotel “site-ranking methodology”. The process narrowed the choices to include only 4 possible locations. 3 really because one was a USPost office and would have literally taken an act of congess to use. In spite of existing historical structures and toxic environmental issues, which will add unknown risks and costs to the project, one of the four locations selected was the former Frederick News Post site which Plamondon had already contracted to purchase. The city also paid JLL to provide the method for scoring the Hotel Proposals, the criteria used to determine the winner of the heavily publicly subsidized hotel and conference center project. And throughout the entire process the lead JLL consultant sat on the city-appointed Hotel Advisory Committee, giving JLL a position on the Hotel Selection Team, essentially allowing them to ensure the Selection Team would chose the Plamondon Hospitality Partner’s proposal.
The City knows, the County knows and the public has the right to know that bid rigging is a federal crime.

Positive

Not sure why you think you are more knowledgeable to claim "bid rigging" than the actual participants in the process.

From the article:

Though he was unable to secure a site for a proposal, Correa said he thought the process was fair and the project that developed from it was a good one. “I think they’re very capable and astute,” he said of the parties involved in the current project plans.

Wormald agreed. He described the RFP process as “orderly and methodical.”

KellyAlzan

Plamandoon paid wormmold to submit a proposal and pretend to me interested

Jane and Ed

The lawyers can't all be wrong. No local developer interested in doing business in Frederick would dare to raise a stink about this or he would be sure to lose any further "opportunities". Wormald would not be wise to speak out against the Good Ole Boys. This is a hostile business climate for outsiders.

kimberlymellon

[thumbup]

DickD

Thank you, Jane![thumbup][thumbup]

Burgessdr

Wormald debunked your bId rigging claim saying the process was "orderly and methodical." You are full of nonsense.

Dwasserba

Ms. Lavin, this was a magnificently detailed effort. I need a nap now.

Old Geezer

It seems to me that “We the people” are being taken for another ride, once again, by the private/public financing that is proposed for a new downtown hotel/conference center/parking deck.
The proposal and now argument for such a hotel has shifted from a number of potential builders to one, one that relies on public taxes to complete the project. That is nonsense.
If there is a perceived demand for a hotel downtown, then let the builder do it, and at their own expense. The state grants which are funded by the taxpayers of Maryland, and the local taxpayer of Frederick should not be on the hook to fund any part of this project.
One of the concerns brought forward, is that conference centers do not make any money. It would seem that they don’t, unless they are booked at a very high rate of occupancy, like 300 days or so, per year to make them profitable. Well, I just don’t see that happening.
For example, call any hotel /conference center in the Baltimore Washington region and at FSK mall too, ask them to give you an idea of how busy the conference center was over a period of the last year or two.
Anyway, there are people in other cities that have asked similar questions about hotels and conference centers, and the answers tend to confirm that conference centers don’t make money. Please, check it out for yourself at:
http://www.theannmag.com/why-a-convention-center-cant-pass-no/ This is from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
http://www.governing.com/blogs/bfc/col-convention-center-promised-benefits-rarely-materialize.html The article explains why local benefits usually doesn’t happen.
Now, as citizens and taxpayers, please take the time to review the articles and come to your own conclusion; either the hotel/conference center/parking deck makes sense, and is worthy of about $30 million being taken from you to help pay for the project, or it is not worth your additional taxes.
If it is such a good project after all, let the proposed company go ahead and do their work, and not at any taxpayer expense.
For transparency, the business plan should address the following elements:
• Buy the property, so they own it.
• Clean up the pollution of the ground so it poses no hazard to the community.
Please note that under the current plan, the city would purchase and retain ownership of the property and pay for the clean-up. That is currently an unfunded expense and could be significant, as in $$$.
• Provide written notice to the city that additional parking would be necessary to support the conference center. Note that the additional cost of parking deck is NOT included in the latest plan. That figure is supposed to be the $30 million or so that we know about as taxpayer funded. I see this as a ballot issue. Get approval from the taxpayer to fund the parking deck before commencing the project.
• Pay for the necessary permits and proceed to build the hotel/conference center.

kimberlymellon

[thumbup]. This is yet another taxpayer insulting aspect of this project. The MSA will only fund the publicly owned assets which will be the land and the public conference space connected to the privately owned hotel. Your links and Google links go to taxpayer (citizens, tourism business, existing private event space owners and competing hotels handing over increasing hotels taxes) one nightmare after another. There's no good example to turn to. If the City wants to build public owned conference space, then own up to it and put it to referendum and stop this con game appeal to pay for a private hotelier's conference space normally included by any hotel developer. D.C said no to the Marriott's request for publicly funded expansive meeting space. The hotel then reassessed it's need for the space and added it at their own expense. The sky won't fall if we don't pay for it. Plamondon already had a contract on the FNP property before the RFP. Let he and Marriott figure out what they need, right size it to fit the district and fund it with their own investors. Citizens will appreciate their efforts all the more for it. Why start off on such a negative foot?

DickD

Let's put this up to a vote for any tax payer money to be used on this boondoggle.[thumbup]

petersamuel

This report fails to examine the gross stupidity of having city, county and state government, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Partnership and the Tourism Council taking it on themselves to choose a site, design the hotel and select a favored developer who will get terns of millions of taxpayer dollars. Of course costs pile up sky high, while there is nothing but talk and plan, talk and plan. The sheer complexity of a politicized bargaining process among people who know nothing about hotels and have to hire a slew of expensive consultants to cover up their ignorance has become a huge expensive and corrupt farce. Ten years have gone by, millions of dollars have been spent to little purpose, and there are still not even any building plans submitted to key City agencies. The politicized approach to building a hotel downtown is underwritten now by $31 million upfront handouts, a sweetheart land rental, and unknown ‘support’ for future operating losses. That has prevented any entrepreneurial self-financed hotel projects getting beyond drawings. Annapolis should be our model — seven hotels downtown, a mix of new construction, adaptation and repurposing of older buildings, decently integrated into a historic district with little fuss, providing a range of accommodations, and, best of all, not a cent of taxpayer subsidy! P Samuel

kimberlymellon

[thumbup]

DickD

We got rid of Blaine, we can get rid of the rest of his family![thumbup]

AnotherFineMess

The FNP with significant financial connections in the sale of the property for this bloated debacle is not telling the whole story!

"With onsite parking" is highly misleading! Parking studies show the need for well over 600 spaces for a facility that may host over 1000 people at any given moment.

The latest official, onsite parking capability was only for 110 spaces. Not even enough for the 200 room hotel! A last minute shell game with public funding now shows an additional $5.7M for some sort of parking onsite, however that only adds less than 120 additional underground onsite spaces.

The 650 space public deck 6, not onsite ( half already reserved for the Dept of education), was initially tossed in to the publicly funded portion of the proposal at $27.7M, to sweeten the deal, has recently been removed. The deck, still intended to be used for and necessary for the survival of the hotel/conference center and all the amenities, will now be paid for, separately, by the public! The original $31M public contribution which included the deck, no longer does and will fund other significant, non public infrastructure portions of the project!

What's that mean?

The public contribution to support the skyrocketing cost of this handout is really close to $60M, for the $31M public portion of the handout and the $28M deck that is needed to support the project!

The public obligation doubled and not a word from the FNP! Do you think Griffin will mention that either?

BlueDawn666

See what I don't get is why a company with $20 million dollars in revenues a year need public money? Plamondon's wanted to build the Downtown Hotel for 10 years, but never wanted to build a 24K sq ft Conference center because conference centers DON't MAKE MONEY. Joe Briglia the Plamondon's Real estate man, has said conference centers don't make any money. Plamondon's are supposedly smary business people because they do rake in 20 million dollars a year in revenue and yet suddenly need taxpayer dollars to help the run a business ..REALLY WHY? So they know full well this conference is not going to make money..they know.

Senator Young, the Chamber of Commerce and Major Employers Group said they did....BUT only because they paid to Susan Sieger to say they did make money, let's not forget that the FNP seems to have forgotten that, this story leaves many important details out..this for example.

it is a well-known fact that convention centers lose money. Even Susan Sieger, who worked as director of the convention, sports and entertainment group at the accounting and consulting firm KPMG admitted it in a 2002 article in the Triangle Business Journal.

“In general, convention centers are not self-supporting facilities,” says Susan Sieger, which at the time had completed a market and financial analysis of a new Raleigh center. “Most, if not all, operate at a deficit.”

Who is Sieger? She is the president of Crossroads Consulting Services, which wrote the report on which Sen. Ron Young, Delegate Karen Young, County Executive Jan Gardner, Frederick Mayor Randy McClement, Delegate Carol Krimm, Downtown Frederick Partnership Executive Director Kara Norman and others have based their talking points. Sieger has become the go-to girl for convention and conference center-friendly reports and studies for politicians across the country and for the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Sieger changed her tune when she was paid by the Maryland Stadium Authority for a study to accommodate the MSA and local hotel and conference center proponents.

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/opinion/letter_to_editor/questions-report-s-author/article_5932f14f-7100-5470-8da8-a9c7c2e0f468.html

The Plamondon's know full well this conference center is going to loose money and $31 million dollars in tax payers dollars is not going to change anything, our tax dollars suddenly made them change their mind and want to built this hotel/conference center because we the taxpayers' will be on the hook for it not the Plamondon's. WE are giving corporate welfare to rich to benefit the FEW..does this even make sense that we have to help successful business people run a business?

Visit this FB page for the actual real story.. thanks

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1498307467136953/

DickD

Thank you, Blue![thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

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