BG FNP Hotel - MP

The former Frederick News-Post building at 200 E. Patrick St. is part of the property planned to be used to build the downtown hotel and conference center.

In a livelier than usual Chamber of Commerce legislative wrap-up breakfast Wednesday, Chamber members criticized Republicans in the local delegation for not backing the downtown hotel project. 

After Frederick County's delegates and senators each received time to answer questions about issues like minimum wage and the Interstate 270 expansion, and a few minutes to tout their achievements this session, chamber members chimed in to harp on the delegation's biggest failure: Not moving the downtown hotel and conference center project forward. 

And the Chamber, which leans conservative on most issues of policy, made no bones about who's to blame for the project being held up: the Republicans.

Jonathan Warner, of Warner Commercial, who's a Republican, asked the delegation what it would take to get the other Republicans on board with the project and to get Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to put the project on the Board of Public Works agenda. 

Steve Heine, president and CEO of Woodsboro Bank, added that he too is a Republican, and the matter of the hotel project is turning a nonpartisan issue into a partisan one. Those in opposition to the project seem to be blinded by the strong economic state of Frederick at the moment, but the hotel would be an economic anchor for the city if and when a recession hits, Heine said. 

"I can't remember a crowd bursting out in applause and support at one of those events," said Pete Plamondon, co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, which would own and operate the hotel. "It was such a visceral reaction, and I think that shows the passion and support for the project. I'm really thankful others spoke up for it."

Republicans responded to the criticism by digging themselves a hole deep enough to lay the foundation for the multi-million dollar public parking garage the city plans to own and operate underneath the hotel. 

All of them "support the hotel," they said. Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) called the project "neat." Del. Barrie Ciliberti (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) both called it a fine project. Pippy and Cox, who both are freshman delegates, said they needed to do more research on the project and hear all sides. 

Given the near unanimity of the Chamber's members in support of the project, it might be a while before they hear "the other side." 

Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) had to leave the legislative breakfast early for work, but he has been a staunch opponent to giving state funds to the project. 

Ciliberti invoked troubled hotel projects in other jurisdictions like Rocky Gap that received state funding, and said he wouldn't let that happen again. Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick) added the hotels about which Ciliberti spoke all received funds, whereas all state funds for the Frederick project go to infrastructure (read: a parking garage) to support the hotel. 

Ciliberti later said he would "sit down with the senator," and the two would figure who has the right facts. 

Cox later said he didn't understand why the fate of the project rested on a freshman delegate's shoulders. He raised concerns that if the hotel and conference center were to fail, which studies have indicated it won't, then the city would turn the building into offices.

Several members in the audience argued that Cox's assertion was incorrect. 

"There's so much misinformation out there and the people opposed don't have the facts as they are," Plamondon said Thursday. "I'm not sure where some of this misinformation is coming from. If this project fails, and it won't, but if it does, you're talking to the guy who's going to have the worst day if it fails. I'm the one taking the biggest risk. But we've done our homework."

Plamondon was not discouraged by the discourse Wednesday, but rather energized and said he plans to continue engaging delegation members to continue educating them. 

Even with all of the support throughout the city, there might be some valid reasons to oppose the downtown hotel and conference center. Perhaps there will be a major traffic increase on already crowded roads. Maybe it will increase property values in a city that already struggles to provide affordable housing. Conceivably, there's a better use for $5 million in downtown Frederick, such as providing shelter for a growing homeless population. 

But Wednesday served as a fairly clear indicator that after 90 days in Annapolis and another month back in their districts, the same Republicans holding up the project haven't yet found their valid reason for doing so. 

Rick Weldon, President and CEO of the Chamber, gave perhaps the most impassioned speech of the morning, advocating that the hotel project would get done, and the funds would be secured. He touted the chamber's strength in numbers and said they would go around the lobbyists blocking the project and the Republican delegation members standing in the way and find a way to get the public infrastructure money released. 

While the crowd of chamber members erupted in applause, three people, all at the front of the room, sat quietly. 

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler

Allen Etzler is a city editor at the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at aetzler@newspost.com.

(87) comments

Mardi35

Why should the Republican's help to fund a hotel project. Let the hotel pay for itself. Stop ripping up the older buildings. It is taking away the unique nature of Frederick. Once it's gone it will be forever. Since there seems to be so many deep pockets in Frederick, fix up the current building, without demolishing the outside and use it for something else. Stop the madness...

KellyAlzan

Refreshing comment!

stevehurley

Save it like the old Coke plant.

KellyAlzan

Ohh....the irony.

The plamandoon brothers wanting to use our money to make their dream come true.

About 15 years ago, one of the brothers that lives in Holly Hills wanted some high end home improvement work done. They have expensive taste. Top sod the line everything. They got a quote from one of the best residential contractors in the county. And Mrs, plamandoon very rudely said to him “this is way more than we think it should cost”. As if whatever number she dreamed up was gospel.

joelp77440

This has what to do with the hotel? I think you have some personal beefs you are bringing into this argument.

rbtdt5

She's like a tabloid.

KellyAlzan

Matt - you’re the only Commentor with personal beefs, my friend. What personal beef would I have?

My point is that the plamandoon family has a known history of wanting stuff and not wanting to pay for it. I feel i made that obvious. Next time read?

jerseygrl42

If this deal is such an "economic anchor" why doesn't Plamondon just build it rather than trying to suck up Millions of taxpayer dollars with zero ROI....this bunch sounds like the lefties in Congress who just LOVE to waste other peoples money and thank God for Sen. Hough and others of his ilk who are standing up for the people on this travesty in the making....Remember the so - called Tech. Park that was going to bring in thousands of high paying jobs if only the people would lay out $90+ Million for the assess/egress roadways.....and we did... and now Kline wants to build a warehouse to nowhere

shiftless88

The Chamber members are so excited that perhaps the best plan is for them to put up the money instead of the state.

DickD

Their money? Oh God no, it might fail.

KellyAlzan

Hence my comment about Woodsboro Bank financing the dumb thing

shiftless88

Yes, I wrote this before I'd scrolled down. Still, it is worth saying twice!

DickD

Bridge to nowhere was Blaine's pipedream, Jersey - a Republican.

gabrielshorn2013

Stupid pipedreams are not just the domain of Democrats Dick. Republicans do boneheaded things too. [innocent]

DickD

But Blaine set the standard for stupidity.

CaringCommunity

Te demand is already here for the hotel, and, not having it is destroying our neighborhoods. Let me explain. There are over 100 Short-Term-Stays like AitB&Bs, etc. in downtown right now. A large number of them are whole house rentals in residential zones. They are not currently regulated or taxed like any other hotel, yet they are hoteling the whole place. So, what does it do to the community like so many others all over the world? (Annapolis has over 600). It distorts the housing market greatly. It pushes out citizens who vote and pay other taxes, and there are a whole raft of unintended consequences and problems that can occur when they are not properly regulated. (the Paris terrorists were in one of these), etc.
The study done on the issues with redeveloping downtown projects last year clearly showed why it is so much more expensive and risky than doing anything in a greenfield site. Therefore, to have a conference center (not a convention center) which is critically needed, there needs to be an hotel of a certain size and visa-versa.

gabrielshorn2013

So this hotel is going to stop Air BnB? No it won't. So we're supposed to believe that terrorists will stay at an Air BnB and not a hotel downtown or elsewhere? No again. Just fearmongering here. You want the hotel? Crack open your wallet and become an investor. Keep your fingers out of ours.

shiftless88

Great; then based on this information you should have no problem getting the loan and building it yourself. You will be rich; woohoo!

DickD

Do you know whether all the ones looking to buy homes without going through a realtor are looking for homes to rent for Airbnb?

richardlyons

Pulling out all stops aren't you CC? Terrorist threat as an unintended consequence of not building this hotel. I guess the Las Vegas sniper who stayed in a hotel with his multiple guns and ammo was an aberration. Destroying our neighborhoods? Really? Hyperbole. If the demand is already here in downtown Frederick Marriott/Hilton who's market research is likely better than yours would have already built one. You disappoint.

Burgessdr

This wacko delusional comment suggesting that Airbnb's in Frederick may result in terrorist activity is coming from the NAC11 committee.

WalterOlson

I was there at the Chamber breakfast and I thought several questions from the audience were rude and out of line. They represented not the voice of the Frederick County business community as a whole, but one particular portion of it.
One speaker after another was from downtown business interests that stand to benefit directly from state subsidies to the hotel project. The District 4 delegation has taken what I think is a principled position that the state should try to avoid subsidizing a private business venture that competes with other tax-paying businesses and that a good project should be able to line up funding from other sources. Around the state, public-private hotel ventures have been tried several times and although not all of them have bombed, we should learn from the Baltimore and Deep Creek Lake fiascos that initial projections intended to get the subsidies flowing can be optimistic.
Incidentally, the same audience wound up giving an almost complete free pass to the Democratic members of the local delegation who had voted for the draconian minimum wage legislation.

KellyAlzan

And here’s the kicker - most of the money is Maryland money. Not Frederick county money, not Frederick city money. Why should anyone from Easton or Clearspring want their share of the money being used for private enterprise?

DickD

Is it in their newspapers too? I think not!

edens30

Principled? Or flip-flopping?

"https://www.localdvm.com/news/downtown-frederick-hotel-and-conference-center-moves-forward-city-seeks-funding/164188054?fbclid=IwAR3BzzJSCmVBfsM_a2qNzslIqKPtoCzXUcbKupJmopcZzs63DvlQap5ZOLw

However, on Friday, the Frederick County state delegation voted unanimously in Annapolis to write a letter asking the Governor for partial funding.
"We asked for half the amount, $7.5 million this year, not the $15 million that they requested. And, we ask that only the money go to public parts of the project. So, there's a parking garage they need to be built and some road improvements, traffic improvements around that area," said Sen. Michael Hough, (R-District 4).

gabrielshorn2013

Does it matter edens30? The fact is that they heard the feedback from their constituents and did the right thing by changing their minds. Isn't that what pols are supposed to do, listen to their constituents? Just look at today's poll to see the responses.

Dwasserba

"While the crowd of chamber members erupted in applause, three people, all at the front of the room, sat quietly." Respect.

KellyAlzan


If harpers ferry has a self sounded hotel developer, then why can’t frederick find a self funded developer??

elymus43

Does it look like the Chamber of Commerce wants to play the blame game for not voting for the hotel/convention center?? The Republicans are the smart people by not voting for the hotel. Other companies keep building hotels/motels all around Frederick city. That should be an indication that a hotel downtown is not the way to go.

KellyAlzan

Why doesn’t the chamber of commerce arrange a long with woodsbror bank for the hotel!

jthompson

Doing so would provide Woodsboro Bank with the opportunity to place its money where the mouth of its president is. If a bank, in the business of evaluating credit risk, declines to lend its own money for the DH&CC project, the bank is in no position to encourage others to do so.

Jane and Ed

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

KellyAlzan

John is so right!

It’s amazing that anyone is supporting this dumb thing

KellyAlzan

Loan. Not “long”

Comment deleted.
DickD

They are just trying to "feather their own nest" with our money. And in a way it's laughable too, because they also are all Republicans.

Frayou

Politicians & business leaders just want their own “Social Club” to wine & dine, within walking distance of downtown. Obvious this matter creates soooo much debate both past and whenever it resurfaces. Why? The answer is obvious. The circumstances & current players involved, as well as potential Tax incentives. Take the politics & Special interest out of the picture. Put it to a vote.

jthompson

Many moons ago, the "business community", including several banks, inundated the Board of County Commissioners with demands for the County taxpayers to fund a bailout of a developer's promise to construct Monocacy Boulevard, then known as the "Jobs Pathway." Here was one commissioner's reply: https://www.fredericknewspost.com/archive/thompson-let-banks-finance-jobs-pathway/article_4ca243ee-f393-5bea-9ea8-af1080d98ebf.html

DickD

Economic anchor, that's funny. Sounds like our tax dollars going to the bottom of the ocean.

FrederickFan

The fact is this project will generate tax revenue for the city, county and state which will help pay for schools, toads, and other services. The Republicans have been influenced by a lobbyist who doesn't even live here. The state funds are for public parking. If we removed all the public parking downtown think how terrible it would be. The city and the county have invested in the parking decks to make downtown work but it seems many of you would say the downtown businesses should have got together and built them or gone somewhere else. Think about it.

gabrielshorn2013

FF, those benefits will be realized without public funding. The opportunity cost of providing the hotel funding is that those funds are not available to schools. Furthermore, the parking provided is only half the number of rooms. If the hotel has a 50% occupancy rate (low), the parking will be 100% utilized, thus not available to the public. This was just a poorly developed project that needs a taxpayer funded honeypot to be viable. No thanks.

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

KellyAlzan

I don’t understand how people think that a self funded business WILL NOT generate tax revenue. Is Criswell Chevrolet in Thurmont, a self funded business, NOT generating tax revenue?

Will the SwaN hotel, in harpers ferry, a self funded hotel, NOT generate tax revenue???

Use public money, millions of dollars to generate tax revenue? Or build WITHOUT public money, and generate THE SAME tax revenue?

It’s a no brainer.

Let the g- - d- - - n public money out of this.

rbtdt5

FrederickFan [thumbup]

gary4books

[thumbup][thumbup] Fan

gary4books

"... the same Republicans holding up the project haven't yet found their valid reason for doing so." And I see many who oppose all government funds being spent or some tho expect a bed bug invasion or question the need of a hotel since there is "nothing to see in Frederick." I have not seen any specific reasons to change my mind. If the project could work without some support we would have a hotel now.

gabrielshorn2013

I believe the bedbug comment was made in jest Gary. Your continued statement ".... If the project could work without some support we would have a hotel now." is spot on, and exactly why it should NOT move forward with taxpayer funding. The other hotels in the area had none, the Plamondons can go without too. Thanks for finally agreeing with the rest of us.

DickD

I don't think Gary was agreeing, Gabe LOL

gabrielshorn2013

I know Dick. I don't think Gary understands that his statement supporting the hotel actually does the opposite.

gary4books

shorn - time to stop this discussion.

gabrielshorn2013

Gary, nope.

KellyAlzan

Gary, do you know anything about bedbugs? Do you know their life cycle? Do you realize they’re parasites?

gary4books

The new hotel on Byte drive benefits from 42 Million Dollars on the Crossover to Monocacy Blvd. The opposition says we do not need to provide some start up funds to get a hotel and I say "if that was true, we would have a hoel now." I hardly say that is agreeing with those who say nobody wants to visit Frederick or that a hotel will bring sin to our city.

gabrielshorn2013

Again with this Gary? Let's try again. The crossover was planned long ago with the primary purpose to alleviate traffic. Those hotel owners saw a potential business opportunity to locate their hotel, and took advantage of it. The purpose of the funding for the downtown hotel is the hotel itself, i.e. a primary purpose. Taxpayer money should not be used to fund one business entity.

DickD

In other words, Gary, there's not an economic need. Anchor for our tax money going to the bottom of the sea, yes.

gary4books

Many city services cost money. The hotel may cost when it starts. I do not see that as disqualifying.

gabrielshorn2013

The hotel is not a service Gary. It is a private business. Write them a check if you would like to invest.

KellyAlzan

Frederick has........Friday and Saturday night shootings. Downtown.

rbtdt5

I'm out almost every Friday and Saturday and haven't been lucky enough to see one yet. I haven't even heard one. Maybe one day...

KellyAlzan

Word

gary4books

And it is full of people from Mexico, right?

gabrielshorn2013

"...what it would take to get the other Republicans on board with the project and to get Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to put the project on the Board of Public Works agenda."

Easy answer, use your own money. Period. If you have been reading the comments here (doubtful) that is the only reason folks here object. This article reads like propaganda. Mr. Weldon says he will go around the lobbyists. What lobbyists? Has he spoken to the County and State voters? Try making your case with us instead. You too Ron Young. Kudos for the delegation members resisting this boondoggle!

richardlyons

[thumbup] Well said Gabriel. If a hotel in downtown Frederick were economically viable, Marriott or Hilton etc, would purchase the property and build it, reaping the resulting profits for their shareholders and providing local jobs along the way. Why the need for a "public/private partnership" in this case? Anyone? Anyone at all?

DickD

Way to go, Gabe. [thumbup][thumbup]

bryan

What would Trump do if he were in Plamadon's situation right now? I don't know the Plamadon's but they are very good business people that know what they are doing and bring great value to Frederick. They surely have a "plan B" waiting if they don't get the state and local funding. The hotel WILL be built, it NEEDS to be built. I'm sure the business case for the hotel works whether they get the funding or not. BUT, if it's built with state and local funding, Frederick has some say in how it is built and how it will look. Without the funding, Frederick loses the leverage they have if they supply funding and it may look more like a sterile, suburban Marriott hotel. I think Plamadon should be out there aggressively sharing their "plan B", saying to the public: "look- if you don't want the plan B which uses no state and local funding, call up Hogan's office and the Republicans and tell them to cut the funding loose. Otherwise, we are building the sterile plan B". That's a page out of Trump's playbook, it may work, but not necessarily Plamadon's style.

DickD

But the Plamondons are cheap paying wages and Trump wants to build the wall, preventing all the cheap labor that they want. Anybody seeing this as a panacea has blinders on.

rbtdt5

Plamondons are cheap paying labor? Can you explain that? Also, your TDS is showing. It's Friday DickD, don't let Trump ruin your weekend, life is short

DickD

Yes, I can explain it. I went to them after early retirement for a job they had posted. The pay was ridiculous and I told them that.

rbtdt5

I forgot there are no good paying jobs in Frederick in your eyes. They are one of the better paying companies in town though. Did you find a job doing what you want making what you want in Frederick elsewhere?

fredneckian

TDS. That shows you're too stupid to be taken seriously.

DickD

Rb, you can work for a peasant wage, if you like, your choice, not mine.

rbtdt5

DickD, Did you find another similar job in Frederick making what you wanted after you turned this one down? How much were you hoping to make? What was the job? I'm trying to understand why you called them "cheap paying labor"? From what I've seen they seem to pay a fair wage, please enlighten me if I'm wrong.

DickD

Rb, I was offered a job of management that with the hours they wanted worked would have been equivalent to minimum wages. ..I went to work at much higher wages
Why do you defend the Plamondons and talk about working in Frederick County, as you have, stating you are unwilling to commute out of the County, that's someone willing to work for cheap wages. .Good luck to you paying your bills.

KellyAlzan

Bryan. You must be a newbie to the area. The plamandoon brothers are silver spoon boys that were handed everything they have. Their dad handed it all down to them. They never. Ever. Had to start at the bottom. Freeloaders.

jerseygrl42

they surely do love other peoples $$$

des21

1st- isn't it an obvious conflict of interest for the FNP to be reporting so critically of the side that will cost them $$$? Go Pippy go!!!

2nd- congrats Republicans!! After surrendering our tradition of fiscal restraint when Reagan made his deal with Tip O'Neil (the Devil for allegorical purposes here) perhaps we are returning to our roots in fiscal responsibility and will, once again, be the grown-up in the room- or course after we throw Donald to the side of the road in 2024 and be done with his unpleasantness. (He's the Devil in the current parable.)

gary4books

You do know the paper has different owners now.

awteam2000

“conflict of interest for the FNP” how?

DickD

No, Dave, Trump will be thrown to the side of the road in 2020...Straight to jail!

rbtdt5

Remember when she was thrown like a side of beef?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOCPGMtbuiU

DickD

With help of the Russians and a lot of lies from the Republicans.

pappyjoe

If Pete Plamondon, co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners which would OWN and OPERATE the hotel. That says it all in a nutshell "Owner" and being said if Plamondon family wants it bad enough, fork up ALL the funds to build it. I can only envision when the hotel is built and our homeless Veterans stand near the hotel pan handling Plamondon`s Family will say: call the cops and have them get rid of the bums in front of "OUR" hotel. Fork up or forget it.

Vegan

I think it is disgusting that the Frederick "news" post has this much bias in there "news".

threecents

Are you challenging anything in the article specifically? I know the online comments have been almost all against public funding, even of the parking, but I think the general population, particularly downtown business owners and chamber of commerce types, are in favor of some public funding.

pappyjoe

Good point threecents so have our delegates pull a Bob Barker. Lets make a deal, we`ll approve your hotel if Plamondon family funds the entire project but will donate the parking garage back to Frederick City so we can make some money also.

gabrielshorn2013

[beam][thumbup] pap!

Dwasserba

But much of the "general population" is oblivious in general. Recently someone on Nextdoor asked what's going on with the Coca Cola building. Which is well underway. Sigh.

mdcommuter

Agree Vegan. Wish there was a local, journalistic style news source, but I don't think that any longer exists. As far as the hotel is concerned, I suspect there is an ulterior plan for this hotel. If the conference center fails (likely), wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a small casino. The argument of retaining value for the taxpayer investment could go a long way toward approval. But like the stadiums I was forced to help fund with my tax dollar, these venues are not something I can afford or desire to visit.

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