The Maryland Stadium Authority — long planned to be the conduit for bond funding for a planned hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick — voted unanimously against an agreement with the city and county.

Supporters of the $84 million project, which includes $31 million in public funding, sought bond funding through the Maryland Stadium Authority during the 2016 General Assembly session.

A five-party memorandum of understanding passed by a majority of the city Board of Aldermen and County Council last month laid out financing plans and a schedule for the project. The agreement still required approval from the stadium authority and Maryland Economic Development Corp., or MEDCO.

MEDCO is a state agency that borrows money and issues bonds to help state and local economic development agencies and private companies with projects that benefit the public.

Plamondon Hospitality Partners, the private hotel developer expected to foot the $53 million cost of the hotel, is the fifth party to the agreement.

Thomas Kelso, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, issued a statement Tuesday about the board’s vote a day earlier not to sign the MOU.

“The Board and staff leadership expressed concern that its role in the project had changed significantly from when we first became involved,” Kelso wrote.

“MSA was not involved in either site selection or other crucial decisions in which we usually participate in project development,” the written statement continued.

“There is no owner for this project, and no financing. Even if there were, the current MOU has no clear role for MSA,” the statement said.

Pete Plamondon Jr., co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, disagreed with this part of the statement. The memorandum clearly outlined a financing strategy and ownership, he said in a Tuesday phone interview.

Plamondon described the stadium authority’s decision as a potential “detour” but not one that would ultimately hurt the project’s outcome.

“I remain optimistic we’re going to find a path to success,” Plamondon said. “It’s just something we have to deal with.”

Plamondon said he could not elaborate when asked for more detail about exactly how project partners will deal with the change.

During the 2016 General Assembly session, state lawmakers pre-authorized $15 million from the state — bond funding from either the Maryland Stadium Authority or MEDCO — for the next two budgets. But funding must be in Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed 2018 and 2019 budgets or added by the General Assembly.

MEDCO’s board in an October meeting tabled a vote on the memorandum amid questions about funding and feasibility, according to Bob Brennan, executive director of the state agency. Brennan said the organization at the time asked project partners for the latest feasibility study and more information about funding sources.

MEDCO had not received information on either topic as of Tuesday, Brennan said in a phone interview. A vote on the memorandum had not been scheduled for a future board meeting.

“If I don’t receive the information, we won’t be doing anything,” he said. “We’re just in wait and hold mode right now.”

Brennan did not want to comment on the stadium authority’s decision until he had more information about its rationale, he said.

Kelso said the stadium authority’s resources are stretched, given the number of projects and studies it is currently managing.

“The MSA Board believes it is best now, and in the future, to involve MSA in projects only where we have a clearly defined, lead role. This is the best application of our resources,” Kelso wrote.

He added that while the board voted unanimously against the MOU, it did not weigh the merits of the project.

“The Board was concerned solely with MSA's role,” Kelso’s statement said.

The new memorandum was required as a condition for the project to receive the $1 million appropriation included in the state’s fiscal 2017 budget. The agreement must be returned to the General Assembly’s budget committees for a 45-day comment period once it is signed by all parties.

A tentative schedule included in the agreement when it was approved by the city and county expected that all parties would approve the agreement by Nov. 1. The state’s review was then to start Nov. 15, under that schedule.

The proposed hotel and conference center property at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. is 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.

City, county leaders react

Richard Griffin, the city economic development director and key project organizer, referred all comment to the mayor’s office.

Comments from Mayor Randy McClement were included in a city statement Tuesday.

“The vote in no way changes our commitment to moving this plan forward,” he was quoted as saying in the release. “We’ve known from the beginning that this is a complex project, involving agreements between many different entities. We will adjust to this latest development.”

County Executive Jan Gardner was also quoted in the city statement.

“The county will continue to support the city in advancing this transformational project to support jobs, economic development and the vibrancy of downtown Frederick,” Gardner was quoted as saying.

State lawmakers react

On Tuesday morning, Delegate Carol Krimm, D-District 3A, Delegate Karen Lewis Young, D-District 3A, and Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, said they were working on plans for alternate funding for the project.

“We are not wasting any time to rethink alternative strategies,” Lewis Young said.

She blamed the stadium authority’s decision on influence from a lobbyist who worked on behalf of Randy Cohen, who owns the FSK Holiday Inn and has opposed public financing for the proposed downtown project.

“I’m not totally surprised, because there is a lobbyist. A very powerful, influential and persistent lobbyist who has not represented the facts of this project correctly,” Lewis Young said.

Among other things, Lewis Young said the lobbyist, Bruce Bereano, misconstrues the level of public support for the project and whether it would compete with the Holiday Inn.

Bereano — who also represents Brad Kline, developer of a proposed hotel and conference center at Jefferson Tech Park — said the heart of the issue is whether private businesses should be forced to compete with other projects that receive significant public funding.

“That’s wrong. And I think the Maryland Stadium Authority thought it was wrong as well,” Bereano said.

Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4, said he agreed with the stadium authority’s decision and hopes consideration of public funding for the project doesn’t come back before the county’s General Assembly delegation.

While he previously supported funding for infrastructure downtown near the hotel, including an additional parking deck, Hough said the most recent versions of the funding plans had become too unclear and details kept changing.

“It just seems like this whole thing was jammed through,” said Hough, who didn’t feel that state lawmakers were involved enough in discussions about the MOU.

Across the aisle, Sen. Young said he was also frustrated that the delegation hasn’t been more involved in discussions between the city, county and developer.

“The city seems to shut us out. They want us to get them money, but they don’t want us involved,” Young said, referring to the city’s elected members of the General Assembly. “... The three of us just can’t react every time something goes wrong. Maybe if we’re involved, we can keep it from going wrong.”

Nevertheless, he and the other members of the city delegation plan to continue pursuing funding options, he said.

“We’re going to try to come back with a plan to save this,” Young said. “If it doesn’t go now, it could be years.”

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines​.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

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

(42) comments

sofanna

Why doesn't the City of Frederick sell the golf course like they said they were going to at least 2 years ago. Was that also 'built' with taxpayer money? There are many long time residents in Frederick County who are tired of crooked politics. The Charter Government was supposed to change all that. The current government officials are as corrupt as the previous Board of County Commissioners. Oh, and by the way, District 6 was expanded several years ago for 'electoral' purposes. Are the people in District 6 outside of Frederick County going to be taxed as well?

Jane and Ed

I am so glad that neither of the state agencies MSA or MEDCO are willing to sign onto this ill conceived and squirrelly deal.
I do have a problem with this report. The language in the legislation states the 16M set aside in the capital budget depended upon the renegotiation of a 4 party MOU, between 4 specific partners, The City, the County, the developer (Plamondon) and the Maryland Stadium Authority. That bill never, ever said adding or substituting MEDCO for MSA was acceptable and yet, this group of proponents and insiders with great support of this paper pretend as though thats just a non issue. What???

MSA issues State backed bonds, but MEDCO issues revenue bonds and the MOU states the City Parking Fund is backing the MEDCO Bonds.
If you wonder why it costs double what it used to, to park in Downtown you can thank your elected officials for raising the rates and fines and fees to PREPARE to pay for Plamondon's parking requirements. This is dangerous and foolish. Now the developer has no oarking deck 6 in the deal but instead is trying to push the Eagles Club out of the 1911 Brick building by claiming the Randalls bought all the surrounding properties, so their event guests won't be able to park! The new MOU still has taxpayers on the hook for purchasing the land...how much are we going to have to pay for Plamondon to push out the Eagles ? How many years will it take to get some crackpot consultant back to say that building is not worth saving so they can bulldoze another historic property for Plamondon? And how much do we pay to build the 350 parking spaces NEEDED BYTHE HOTEL?
And please, look it up... MEDCO is not a good business partner for the Public. Each of MEDCO's hospitality projects gave been miserable catastophies...costing taxpayers HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS. This is like giving your car title to one of those loan sharks for beer money...its a tragic desperately foolish thing to do.
Since when is legislation written so that the spin here by Frederick's Department of Economic Development can change the LEGISLATION by wishful thinking? Do you think it is reasonable to believe that the Governor will say, "ok sure, Frederick, you can just get any ole state agency you feel like trying, in on the public private partnership and we'll cut you the corporate welfare check" ?? This IS OUR BUSINESS. The City, and County with the back channel deal made by Senator Ron Young and the 2 city delegates Young and Krimm made an end run around the majority of Frederick County Delegation, with the full support of the County Executive, Jan Gardner to get this 16M slipped into the capital budget at the last minute. We were there. We testified before finance committees. We spoke openly about the many areas of public concern regarding this project, and even though all the official committees decided NOT to approve the State funding....the Fredeick county old boys network is still in full swing here and the newspaper wants us to buy their old property as a part of this rotten deal. We know of many hotel plans that have been brushed aside in favor of this mess and it is disgusting that Frederick County is still operating in this archaic, clannish, and ugly way. We need to hold ALL our elected and appointed officials to a MUCH HIGHER standard! i am a lifelong Dem, and I have seen the partisan politics gouge the creative independent eyes right out of the Frederick entrepreneurs with vision. Come on! We deserve so much better! Stop letting the old boys wreck the great thing we have. Stand up for your own best interests! please...join us.... Facebook group

sofanna

Totally agree. The Frederick County residents got included as partners without our consent. Politics in Frederick County are so corrupt. I do not want to pay one penny in taxes to fund this project. Perhaps the Frederick County residents need to retain an unbiased attorney from outside of Maryland to represent us, because no one else gives a @$%^&^$# what we think, yet they want our money. I never received a letter asking me if I wanted to be a partner in this convoluted agreement. Find some other way to fund this project, not on the backs of County residents.

dbjanda1

If it takes this many hands with no one responsible to push thru this stupid project then it's dead before it starts...You can't make a smart decision if there is no plan in the first place no matter how much money you pour into it...This is why government should stay out free enterprise because it's a losing proposition for taxpayers to begin with, it's their money but reap no rewards...

KellyAlzan

READ

If an I-66 toll road can be but entirely with private funding, then this hotel / conference center can be built entirely with private funding.

mrnatural1

Hi Kelly,

I'm not familiar with the I-66 toll road, so I did a quick Google search.

There may be some other toll road I'm not aware of, but the "I-66 Toll Road" that I saw is simply the government slapping tolls on an existing _public_ road, a road that was paid for entirely with taxpayer dollars.

Again, maybe you are referring to some other road?

We all pay the fuel tax (approx. $0.50 per gallon). The only roads that should have tolls are those that are truly, 100%, private roads. Roads that did not cost the public a dime. If a company can get the necessary approvals, purchase the right-of-way, pay for all of the engineering and construction, then they can charge whatever the market will bear.

Public roads should remain open to everyone equally. That means no tolls, and no Lexus/HOT lanes that allow the well-heeled to buy their way out of traffic while everyone else sits in their vehicles sucking exhaust fumes.

mrnatural1

I meant to add that of course I agree that this conference center, and any other similar project, should be able to be built with 100% private funding if there is a good solid business plan backing it up.

gary4books

"She blamed the stadium authority’s decision on influence from a lobbyist who worked on behalf of Randy Cohen, who owns the FSK Holiday Inn and has opposed public financing for the proposed downtown project."

Paid supporters for Mr. Cohen?

jerseygrl42

omg, not that ...how about the supporters paid by the taxpayers who think its a good idea to spend $50 million of taxpayer money to make Plamondon and Randall richer

Fredmd21704

well thats crappy, so when will the stadium authority stop funding the Ravens and Oriole stadiums then?

KellyAlzan

Huge difference.

A hotel can be built and ran by anyone. We have a schlew to choose from. The state does not need to subsidize a hotel to benefit the community because the hotel choices are abundant.

A stadium for a major league ball team doesn't have a competing stadium around the corner. That stadium is generating income taxes, and other taxes that benefit the community. If we didn't build it - then we should not have the tax revenue.

But with a hotel - anyone can build it. We're gonna have tax revenue regardless. Public money isn't needed

mrnatural1

We're on the same page on this proposed conference center, but I believe almost all stadiums have been net losers for the taxpayers.

TIFs are a bad idea, regardless of the project. There is no reason that taxpayers should be expected to help pay for a stadium that many of them will never set foot in.

IIRC, there are entire interchanges on the east side of the beltway that we all paid for that are only open on game days.

I'm watching the election returns and don't have time to Google this right now, but I can later.

KellyAlzan

My issue with the stadium is that we built a stadium but we have 270 as a parking lot. Backward priorities.

Ok, now. Look at I-66 I'm VA. It's getting a toll road. Being BUILT ENTIRELY WITH PRIVATE FUNDS!

Fredmd21704

also Kelly, I-66 isn't funded by tolls, or anything other than Virginia tax payers (we aren't in virginia by the way, this is Maryland)

KellyAlzan

You're so caught up in trying to one up everyone that you're completely missing the point. Do u even know what this story is about?

Fredmd21704

It is exactly the same thing Kelly. The hotel would generate income taxes, and other taxes that would benefit the community. IF we didn't build it, then we should not have the tax revenue. you just put your own foot into your own mouth.

jerseygrl42

this news is almost as good as the defeat of the Billion dollar trash incinerator 2 years ago, and its unfortunate this paper refuses to acknowledge the real cost of this project to the taxpayers ( I wonder why)...to the $31 million there needs to be added the cost of the necessary parking deck putting the taxpayer amount well over $50 million...if Plamondon wants to build a hotel let him pay for it , particularly while we have many hundreds of school children being taught in trailers due to overbuilding and lack of funds to build out needed infrastructure

KellyAlzan

Honestly, with the taxing of other hotels to pay for said hotel, with the using of public state monies, with the hush hush aspect of the necessary parking garage, with the city refusing to put this project out for national bid for an investor, with the city insisting upon using the FNP site - this has more dirty politics than anything ba'lane young has ever layed a finger on.

KellyAlzan

Now the right thing to do would be that the Randall's donate the old property andnit be used As a homeless shelter

Fredmd21704

The Randall's asked if you could donate your house first, and then they'll follow suit.

KellyAlzan

Which house?

jerseygrl42

After they abate the arsenic on site...

BlueDawn666

"We are not wasting any time to rethink alternative strategies,” Lewis Young said...and what will those be, what alternative strategies could there possibly be? Karen the fleecing of us taxpayers is finished, you could just do what us regular folk do when we want something, we pay for it out of our own pockets and if we can't afford we can't don't it. Ask Peter to put his money where his mouth is...you as well.

This is wonderful news, hopefully us opponents had something to do this?

richardlyons

OUCH!

pfitzgerald

[thumbup]

threecents

This is what happens when things become too politicized.

KellyAlzan

Hay Karen young - he's an idea for you for your emergency meeting - have the Plamandoon brothers call PNC Bank and get a loan like the rest of us.

Thewheelone

[thumbup]

jerseygrl42

Amen to that

KellyAlzan

The city was trying to be slick and conceal the money needed for the parking deck that they were trying to keep hush hush about. This is what happens when you try to manipulate the system at the expense of tax payers!!!!!!!

jerseygrl42

and you can thank richard griffin for that slick move....

KellyAlzan

PRAISE THE LORD SWEET JESUS!!!!

Christmas came early for the MD and Frederick county tax payers!!!!

Thank you thank you thank you MD Stadium Authority!! THank YOU!!!!!!

now find and investor that has money. The Plamandoon brothers have had everything handed
To them, including their business. They can get out and do something on their own for once.

BlueDawn666

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Thewheelone

Now Blue, I am surprised (tongue planted firmly in my cheek) that you are giving a thumbs up to someone praising Jesus. What's next, will you be giving up your numeric identity? :)

BlueDawn666

don't count on me giving up my 666...LOL...

MAVRICKinc7

What does Jesus or even God have to do with this intentional manipulation of the public's tax dollars by men and women enamored with their self-righteous ethical standards and bank accounts?

public-redux

FWIW, the Satanists are more generally against taxpayer subsidies while the Jesus folks more generally support them. Your praises may be misdirected.

MAVRICKinc7

Where on EARTH did you come up with this religious mumbo-jumbo? AND what bearing does it have with the subject at hand? This is about man's manipulation of another with only one stipulation and that would be "not to be caught."

We will forever be about the LIE. We do it every day. Even Karen Lewis Young, Ron Young and Carol Krimm are just as culpable and capable of telling LIES to themselves and their constituents. This FNP article is just another example how FAMILY influences the body politic.

Why else would Karen Young cry foul with claims of LOBBYIST not telling the truth or supplying the FACTS to the FNP readership when she is as much the LOBBYIST as Ron Young, Carol Krimm, FNP, Plamondon, Jan Gardner, Mayor Randy McClement and his hired gun Richard Griffin are and will remain so for an indefinite time.

This current circumstance and revelation may be the start of a DEAL that has yet to provide the dirt and details of a failed merger of money interest that are now just being "found out" one drip at a time. Since the FNP has a VESTED interest in this deal while disclaiming they are not any part of the dealings going on behind closed doors is as much the public LIE as it is a PRIVATE LIE.

The public has NO idea what this latest FNP exchange is about other than to intentionally confuse and MAKE more COMPLICATED than it should be. The biggest thing at stake now is eventually being "found out" by the PUBLIC, that their elected representatives have been bought and their bottom line is all about taxing their constituents for something they don't really need, at least NOT FOR THE MOMENT.

DickD

It's not over until the fat lady sings and there will be a lot of arm twisting, let's wait and see.

DickD

Hurray! The Maryland Stadium Authority is seeing through this terrible use of tax payer's money.
“MSA was not involved in either site selection or other crucial decisions in which we usually participate in project development,” the written statement continued.

“There is no owner for this project, and no financing. Even if there were, the current MOU has no clear role for MSA,” the statement said.

Site selection, could they be against the idea of giving extra money to the Randalls, for a site they apparently couldn't sell for such a high price to anyone else? Were they against the Plamondons getting a gift of tax payers money, for a private corporation.

Let's hope the arm bending doesn't start and succeed as it is indicated it will.

BstD59

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

jerseygrl42

This was one of the very worst and ill-conceived ideas ever and thankfully some folks are starting to see thru the subterfuge

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