Whether $5 million promised to the city of Frederick for a downtown hotel and conference center has a chance of being spent this year, depends on whether you’re talking to an optimist or a pessimist.

After 12 years of negotiation, Rick Weldon, president of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, tends to believe that movement on the hotel has to be coming.

“I’m forever the optimist when it comes to this project, so, yes, 2019 is the year,” Weldon said in a recent interview.

For years, elected officials have debated and battled the topic of investing state money in the construction of a private hotel and conference center near Carroll Creek Linear Park, which has included a hotel component in its master plan since the 1980s. A recent rebranding of the project as an infrastructure investment — where the city, county and state would finance the parking, road, utility, streetscape and creek area improvements — rather than a private development, sought to finally move the funding forward, but so far has not.

As state grants begin to expire and another budget cycle looms ahead, there is concern the city may never claim the money it has worked to secure.

Undetermined agenda

Frederick County has accumulated $5 million in the state coffers for the downtown hotel and conference center project, but the Board of Public Works has never voted on whether the money can be spent.

The state’s top three budget officials — Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D) — comprise the Board of Public Works. They are the gatekeeper between the money the General Assembly approves in the state budget and what is ultimately spent.

In the last year alone, the Board of Public Works oversaw the release of more than $7 billion.

Hogan has broad authority over the projects placed on the board’s agenda. This has become a source of frustration for city of Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor (D), who has never been able to sit down with Hogan to explain the infrastructure project and instead has been left to guess what changes are needed for construction of the hotel to begin, he said.

“We believe that we are responding to the concerns that we’re hearing. ... Until someone actually does something at the state level to take forward progress, we’re trying to be responsive to concerns we’ve heard,” O’Connor said.

The city clarified language attached to the $5 million to make it clear the state’s money would only go toward public infrastructure and not the private development of the hotel or conference center slated for 200-212 E. Patrick St.

In June 2018, the city also drew a distinct line between the developer — Plamondon Hospitality Partners — and the city, county and state’s investments in the project by re-writing a Memorandum of Understanding and removing any public money from the conference center. This reduced the public share in the project from $31 million to $17.5 million, The News-Post previously reported.

Still, the Board of Public Works has not put the project to a vote.

A spokeswoman for Kopp said the treasurer did not set the agenda and could not provide insight on why the downtown hotel and conference center had not yet been considered for a vote. A spokesman for the comptroller similarly declined to comment, and said, as a matter of practice, Franchot does not comment on items before they arrive at the board.

The Office of the Governor was also tight-lipped on what needed to be done to put the project to a vote.

Shareese Churchill, a spokeswoman for the governor, said, “This item is currently under review and the timing for inclusion on the Board of Public Works agenda has not been determined at this point.”

Receiving no formal commitment to consider the project at the Board of Public Works this year, however, was not concerning to Richard Griffin, who has served as the director of economic development for the city of Frederick for the past 17 years.

Griffin said it was neither atypical nor out of character for the board members to not provide specific information on when they may act on a project.

“We’ve done a lot of things to be certain we’re checking all the boxes and satisfying the needs of the administration and Board of Public Works to support the project,” Griffin said.

The red veto

One unchecked box may be putting an “R” behind the name of one of the project’s supporters.

The Frederick County state delegation is split down party lines on the use of public funds in the project. More of them support the downtown hotel — and the economic benefits it could have for tourism — in a concept, but the sticking point for Republicans are how and to whom the state’s money will ultimately be distributed.

“We have been told that the failure to get at least one Republican represents a mark against us, but I can only explain the project so much,” O’Connor said.

Some of the opponents still had questions of who would control the parking infrastructure and the schedule to collect fees from it. With none of the Republicans representing the city of Frederick, however, it seems to give a lot of veto power to one party, O’Connor said.

Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick & Carroll) has been one of the most vocal opponents of the downtown hotel project.

Hough tried in the 2019 legislative session to defund the state’s existing $5 million commitment by striking the money from a bill dealing with the prior authorization of state debt. His amendment was rejected by the state Senate.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he would not now, or ever, support state funds going to this project,” Weldon said.

There was hope, however, that the city could persuade its newest members of the delegation to support the project. Freshman Republican Delegates Jesse Pippy and Dan Cox each said separately in interviews that they support a hotel being built in downtown Frederick, but not with state funding.

“I love the idea of a downtown hotel, but we have to make sure it can stand on its own, financially, with developer funds,” Cox said.

Transparency of how and to whom the $5 million is distributed and establishing a way to guarantee that the money would be used for the public infrastructure, are important to Cox. He also needed assurance that taxpayers would be protected in the long-term, if the project somehow failed.

Pippy said he was still having a hard time understanding how the developer needed $10 million to $15 million to complete the project. His understanding also wasn’t aided by the city decision not to bring the project to the full delegation for a vote of support in the 2019 session, he said.

“I have a responsibility to the taxpayers before signing off or supporting public debt. There has to be public need or public good,” Pippy said.

“The bigger issue is whether the governor, comptroller or treasurer feel it’s a good enough project that they release it,” he said.

A ticking clock

The city of Frederick would like to begin design and construction of the infrastructure for the downtown hotel and conference center.

The project remains a regular topic of interest for other downtown developers with a pipeline of $150 million of economic development for the east side of the city, Griffin said.

Frederick County has until June 2021 to show it can match the $5 million already approved by the state, and the state cannot terminate the grant for another five years, until June 2026.

The city has missed other grant opportunities. It lost a half million dollars from the Department of Housing and Community Development in 2018 and another $350,000 grant in 2017 due to funding delays.

The city could reapply for those funds, but it is a competitive grant process, Griffin said. If the city of Frederick continues to sit on the money, because it cannot access the larger pool of state money, its application may not be competitive.

If the city could get the Board of Public Works to release the $5 million and the General Assembly to approve an additional $2.5 million pre-authorized in the next fiscal year’s budget — bringing the total funding up to $7.5 million — then the project would have “almost enough to put shovels in the ground,” Weldon said.

Even $7.5 million, however, may not be enough.

The city would like $10.5 million from the state to facilitate two layers of parking infrastructure and a greater return on investment, O’Connor said. The $5 million will cover a single layer of parking beneath the hotel, which the city of Frederick will own, operate and collect revenue from as it does from the other downtown parking infrastructure.

“If we could only get a total of $7.5 million, we have to go back to the project and say, ‘Do we think we can get the $3 million we need?’ or re-scope the project,” O’Connor said.

Any adjustments made to the scope of the project will affect the amount of revenue the city will get back in parking, hotel tax and the subsequent tax increases from improvements to the area, O’Connor said.

Time, Weldon says, is just as important of an issue.

“I think there is a clock. I think that clock is ticking loudly, and I think that clock could run out on us,” Weldon said.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(108) comments

KellyAlzan

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

petersamuel

Burgerssdr: your list of all the tax revenues you say the state and county and city “will get” from the hotel are highly speculative. And they depend on a whole heap of very iffy assumptions.
But even if they are soundly based they don’t take account of (1) the impact on government obligations and the cost of meeting those new obligations. A new hotel business and the extra people and traffic will increase the load on city trash collection, city road maintenance, county land fill, water consumption, police etc etc on and on. Local governments struggle to balance their budgets because the taxes they collect barely cover the costs of services of they provide. Your list suggests that the taxes collected are pure positives soon government accounts when new businesses affect both sides of the accounts.
(2) There is a certain demand for hotel accommodation in the Frederick area, a certain number of people who want to visit and stay in hotels here. Adding a big chunk of supply (200 extra rooms) will mean that in order to fill those rooms the hotel management will have to attract a lot of visitors who would otherwise stay at existing hotels away from those hotels. So those other hotels will see reduced business and the reduction in their business will mean they are paying less of the kinds of taxes on your list. So there will be offsetting losses in tax revenues at the competing hotels. Again, the net impact has to take account of those offsetting reductions in tax revenues from other hotels lost business.
If projects like this were really huge positives for government finances you’d expect that the places where they promote them most would have overflowing government accounts — in practice, they are most common where governments are struggling the most. It is not the panacea your list suggests.

Burgessdr

Peter. 

Your knowledge of basic economics totally sucks.  You are ignoring DEMAND.

The number of visitors, overnight stay rooms, INCREASES 4-5% every year in Frederick.  That means there is a need for about 100 NEW rooms each year.

* A new hotel was built in Westview with about 100 rooms about 6 month's ago.

* The county planning commission just approved another hotel near Westview and another hotel with 100+ rooms in Urbana. 

* And Randy Cohen is building another 100 room hotel at north side of Thomas Johnson Drive.

* Plus Visitation Academy Hotel with 60 rooms.

* And there is no hotel downtown. Zero rooms.  That's a helll of a demand

* And there is no 4 star hotel in Frederick County, a major jobs center in Maryland.  Zero rooms. If you werent so completely ignorant you would know that 4 star hotels typically service 15-20% of the market.  Zero rooms in Frederick.  Should be 400-500 rooms. That's a helll of a demand.

All these people are building hotels because of the INCREASING DEMAND.  They know better than you.Your argument is bogus.  There is no scavenging of rooms.  You are completely ignoring demand. 

Your knowledge of the hospitality industry is zero. All you have is a mouth.
Complete ignorance.

petersamuel

Donald: I addressed your list of all the tax revenues you thought local and state government would get with the hotel operating. You had provided a forecast for a single year. I commented on your single year or static analysis. Avoiding my critique you now switch the subject to growth over time. Sure there is growth in demand and, as you point out, also growth in supply (new and expanded hotels) designed to meet that higher demand. All that increase in supply is being accomplished without City sponsorship, without promises of tens of millions of taxpayer money, without city-hired consultants, without the need for lobbyists in Annapolis and panhandling expeditions, without crooked City hotel advisory committees, without the Mayor & Board having to mull over MOU after MOU, and without politicians big-noting themselves. We now have a hotel being developed by investors just a couple of blocks away from the City hotel site at the old Visitation Academy on E2nd St. No City sponsorship, no deal to get taxpayer grants. The City is not going to get State money for its own hotel and I hope it doesn’t get county money either. The City and the County should leave hotels to investors and entrepreneurs, and focus on schools, parks, police, trash, roads etc. They have no business getting into hotels as proven by the mess they’ve made of this project.

KellyAlzan

Donald - what DEMAND? Frederick has nothing. It’s not Annapolis. No others are developing such businessses

jagman

It seems that you, burgess, cannot understand the difference between hotels built with private funding and the proposed DH built with taxpayer funding (partial). If these other properties can be created without the taxpayers help, so can the Plamondon deal.

Furthermore, as you have become increasingly nasty in your responses to those putting forth a reasonable argument against taxpayer funding, it makes me wonder what you may have to gain from this project. There must be something, otherwise you would not be so emotional.
So, tell us what that is.

Jane and Ed

Perhaps he wants to get more of the money Plamondon donates to the museum of civil war medicine. He probably wants more support for the Hallowed Ground project. Insulting attacks seem to be his most developed social skills.

KellyAlzan

Peter keep in mind, the tax revenues would be the same if the project was done by a self funded developer.

Go back to the drawing board. And find a self funded developer. Harpers Ferry has a self funded developer.

KellyAlzan

Fact:
The Plamandoon Brothers have not worked for anything in their lives. Ever.

It was their father who started the business in the 1970’s. He did all the footwork. The business was handed down to his two sons.

And now, they are not hesitating to accept tax payer dollars. It’s because it’s all they know. They don’t know how to build from scratch. Daddy spoiled them.

mrnatural1

For anyone who may be confused about who is telling the truth here, just look for the comments that include troll-like ad hominem attacks. The author is on the wrong side.

As is generally the case, those who have a solid argument have no need to insult others.

bicep42

Taxpayers assume the risk while the private corporation reaps the profits.
Corporate welfare 101 .
NO THANKS

jerseygrl42

If its so necessary then why is the taxpayer forking over Millions with zero ROI...this is simply another example of pol.s wasting taxpayer $$$ to benefit a few...in this case the Plamondons and the former owners of this newspaper...there are a dozen or more hotels within 10 minutes of downtown with little traffic and NO parking fees to contend with and Sen. Hough got it right the first time ....

WillMacBryde1

This project’s rollout was flawed from the beginning with the laughable ruse of selecting the “winning” site from all of the available ones. Pure coincidence that the former FNP site, one of the worst possible in terms of traffic, underground infrastructure, or parking was selected. It always had a smell of a back room deal and the public’s support was never cultivated in any way that could have garnered consensus for moving forward. People tend to gag when something is shoved down their throats.

In principle, the idea of a downtown hotel/conference center, is probably a winner for the taxpayers of Frederick City and County in the end. The Flood Control and Linear Park has been, by any yardstick, a resounding success in maintaining a vibrant downtown and attractive tax base. As for the site selection for the Park, it had to go where Carroll Creek was for very obvious reasons. Not so for this site other than the developers’ refusing to consider any other. And of course the City has rarely met a developer they didn’t like, so they willingly participate in this Kabuki Theater. When they go this route, the City taxpayers usually come up on the short end of the stick.

I know that the current games will continue, and perhaps taxpayer funding will be found to subsidize the developer, but if the quest for a hotel/conference center is to obtain the public support necessary, perhaps the City should should start at square one and market all of the bought and paid for City Properties on or near the Linear Park that will attract the right kind of developer.

WillMacBryde1

Perhaps too much steering to the proposed developers without the taxpayers’ buy-in has fueled much of the opposition to the project. Th

Business Owner

Wine Kitchen, Doner Bistro, Idiom Brewery, Attaboy Brewery, Roro's Mexican Grill, Sweeties on the Creek, Hometown Harvest, Stoney Point Deli.....this is a partial list of business operating on and benefiting from a publicly funded infrastructure project referred to as the Carroll Creek Project. They didn't pay a time for the park that makes their businesses possible. Again, the park didn't need to include any improvements that could foster business and enrich downtown but thankfully it did.

Business Owner

I forgot to mention LaPaz, the office users in the 50 Carroll Creek and 50 Citizens Way, as well as the residents of the residential condominium building that is adjacent to the south side of the Linear Park.

gabrielshorn2013

Irrelevant. The park was a flood control measure that benefitted the city and its residents. The fact that companies benefited long after the parks inception is a secondary benefit. What critical need does the hotel fulfill?

Business Owner

Hardly irrelevant. The flood control measures are below grade -- the infrastructure above and over the flood control measures (and which aren't flood control measures) cost the City and State MILLIONS allowed for commercial and residential development along the entire corridor. What critical needs does Wine Kitchen fulfill? What critical needs does LaPaz fulfill? I could go on and on. They provide jobs and tax revenue to the City and State, along with the other businesses.

gabrielshorn2013

Building a park is within the purview of the city. Building a hotel for one developer is not. If you believe you will derive a benefit, pony up. Don't expect us to without a fight. The wine kitchen and LePaz were not the primary objective, so your comparison is irrelevant. They took advantage of pre-existing infrastructure. The hotel is the primary benefactor of the taxpayer honeypot.

KellyAlzan

Carroll creek flood control was not crafted as a jobs program

KellyAlzan

comparing apples to oranges. Carroll Creek exists today dues to a massive and extensive flood control design, engineering, and implementation. It was a necessity. it was the job at hand. Carroll creek had a utility purpose, it was not a jobs program

shiftless88

As I mentioned below; the Carroll Creek project was not to benefit one single company. The hotel/conference center may benefit other companies downtown to some degree, but it primarily is for two. That, to me, is all the difference in the world.

elymus43

If the hotel is such a good investment, maybe Warren Buffet and other big investors will want a piece of the action??? The hotel was a loser from day one......................

Business Owner

Please share your demand analysis that you used to reach this conclusion.

gabrielshorn2013

Why will the developers not assume the entire business risk and fund this themselves, like the Visitation Academy developers are?

gabrielshorn2013

Welcome back don. Please describe the difference between upfront financing by taxpayers, and backend tax credits. You still have not answered why the developer of the hotel needs taxpayer funding since this is a slam dunk, no risk deal. I would think that investors would be jumping at the chance to get in on such a winner.

Burgessdr

No difference. $6 million is $6 million of taxpayer dollars. All green. Dollars in developers pocket they will spend. Dollars not in government pockets the government won't spend. Lame and uninformed.

gabrielshorn2013

So, you take the low road in the debate and call names. Classic don, what's next, are you going to start disparaging schoolkids and their parents like you did before? Your argument is disingenuous and you know it. The upfront taxpayer funding for the Plamondons boondoggle is money directly paid by the County and State that could go to more deserving projects like schools. That is the taxpayers giving the hotel developers money that they already collected. Any tax credits to the Visitation Academy project is money that the City will forgo. That is money that the city didn't have to begin with. Got it? I will ask you again. If this hotel was such a can't miss sure thing, why have the developers not been able to get investors to pony up and assume the business risk with their own money? They didn't, and apparently can't. Feel free to crack your own wallet don, and keep your fingers out of ours.

gabrielshorn2013

No don, I understand business very well. I also understand that the taxpayer honeypot you support increases the developers ROI at the taxpayers expense. If there was no honeypot, the developers would need to invest more of their funds, correct? Of course developers will take all of somebody else's money when offered. It should never have been offered in the first place. Other hotel developers are doing very well without it. The Plamondons can too. So when do you think you'll ever get around to answering my questions? They're not difficult.

Burgessdr

Gabriel.

The state and county and city will get back way more than invested as public financing.  You see you always rant and rave about about public financing, but never mention the tax revenue generated.   Your knowledge sucks


* The county and city will get about $800,000 in real estate taxes from the hotel each year

* The county will get about $500,000 in hotel tax each year

* The county will get maybe another $200,000 in hotel tax from other hotels because of conference attendees not staying at the downtown hotel

* The state will get about about $500,000 in sales tax from the hotel each year

* The state will get maybe another $200,000 in sales tax from other hotels because of conference attendees not staying at the downtown hotel

* The state will get about $300,000 in income tax from hotel employees each year

* The state will get maybe another $100,000 in income taxes from employees at other hotels because of conference attendees not staying at the downtown hotel

* The state will get maybe another $200,000 in income tax from Plamondon each year

* The state will get maybe another $400,000 in sales and income taxes from restaurants, shops, etc frequented by hotel guests each year

* The state will get maybe another $100,000 in sales and income taxes from restaurants, shops, etc frequented by conference attendees each year because of conference attendees not staying at the downtown hotel

* The downtown hotel will also stimulate revitalization on the east side of Frederick (BTW it is already happening).  It is hard to quantify the economic impact, but it will be substantial.

jagman

Burgess, All that you say MAY happen. If so, it shows how lucrative the venture is for the Plamondon boys. Therefore, they should be jumping at the chance to finance this thing themselves.

Yet they are not. That is the real question here. And another reason the taxpayers should not be on the hook for any of this.

gabrielshorn2013

Yeah don, like I said earlier. PPPs never deliver all of the benefits they say they will. You should also claim that the city will benefit from the sunrise, even though it has nothing to do with the hotel, and would happen anyway. Many of those benefits would happen anyway if the hotel is built. So I will ask you again, if this is such a great deal, why are investors lot lined up to take advantage of this slam dunk of a deal instead of expecting the taxpayer to fund it. Oh yeah, the name calling really helps make your point, LOL. Grow up.

petersamuel

Mr Business Owner: the City sponsored demand analysis studies by Pinnacle/OPX and Crossroads both said that the downtown hotel was NOT viable without City support. The non-viability of this project was the whole rationale for City subsidies -- for buying the land then building part of the project with taxpayer money (first the conference center, later the foundations and on-site parking etc.

gabrielshorn2013

Thank you petersamuel, if anybody knows and understands the ins and outs of this boondoggle, it’s you.

Business Owner

No one on this thread understands what the City and Plamondon Co. area actually planning -- you shouldn't rely on the FNP to understand something this complex. Please schedule a meeting with the City Planning Office and review the materials they have -- it might change your perspective. In addition, the proposed government investment in the project is not out of line with similar projects throughout the State. The Carroll Creek Linear Park project, which was paid for entirely with public funds, benefits hundreds of businesses in downtown Frederick and they didn't have to contribute anything. Did you all complain about that as well? If the project had only been a flood control project and not a park that we have today, it would have been a fraction of cost.

gabrielshorn2013

The linear park was a very necessary flood prevention measure that benefitted all of Frederick City, not just the businesses. I guess you weren't here for Hurricane Agnes and the aftermath. That was the impetus for the flood control project. The need to keep anything permanent from being on top of the pipelines is common sense. The park made sense rather than have the land above the pipelines sit empty and barren. The hotel serves no such purpose, and your conflating the two is ridiculous.

Business Owner

I remember Hurricane Agnes but it didn't flood downtown in 1972. The flood that decimated downtown Frederick in 1976 was an unnamed tropical depression. I guess with you, and most people on this thread, facts don't matter -- just your ill-formed opinions. Do you think the fountains, brick walkways, faux creek, and decorative bridges were necessary? It would have been as simple as Baker Park --- much cheaper to construct (no electrical and plumbing needs, plus limited engineering) than what we have today. Again, publicly funded infrastructure is not a dirty word -- it is quite normal.

gabrielshorn2013

Publicly funded infrastructure benefitting the citizens of the city is acceptable to the majority of taxpayers. Publicly funded risk reduction honeypot to benefit one hotel developer, is not. As to your claim that "others are doing it", a bad idea is still a bad idea even if others are doing it. The benefits of a PPP are never what the planners/developers say they will be. They would claim the benefit of the sunrise if they could. There was one commentor on this forum that used the same argument you are using. He was wrong then too.

gabrielshorn2013

BTW, are you going to start disparaging families with children too, the way that "other commentor" did?

Frayou

As I recall, the so called Carrol Creek Project was not always considered a welcome project and to this day there are still problems with flooding downtown, In addition to this day one can question whether it would prevent similar deviation as Hurricane Agnes. I suspect the Monacacy flood waters would still back up into the Creek if hurricane conditions were duplicated? But I likely will not live to see, nor will it matter as people will not remember the promises made by politicians at the time leading to its building. I do recall it sat as a concrete monument for years while the former Golden Mile slowly deteriorated as well as the City & County pushed Revitalization efforts with grants which we continue to hear about year after year. I feel the time has come when current or future downtown businesses should stand on their own economic base. No more social business tax incentives.

jagman

To the contrary, everyone understands perfectly what is being planned. A large hotel complex that will benefit the Plamondon's thru business profits and the Randall's thru getting rid of a worthless property no one else wants.
The problem is these two high rolling families want the taxpayers to finance a significant part of the project.

I suspect that you, business owner, think you stand to benefit from this project as well. Apparently you have no interest in personally investing, thus the reason you favor public funding.

petersamuel

Mr Business Owner: your comparison of the Carroll Creek Linear Park (CCLP) with the Downtown Hotel (DH) is absurd. It is normal for flood control and for parks to be financed by taxpayers. CCLP was a straightforward public works project in that it benefits were widely spread. And it was ethically straight -- no corruption alleged so far as I know. The DH is in striking contrast. It is NOT normal for taxpayers to be expected to subsidize a hotel business. The DH benefits are heavily concentrated in one man and one business, at the expense of taxpayers and at the expense of competing businesses who lack his political leverage. One is classic public works with diffuse benefits, the other's benefits are concentrated in the pocket of one business. CCLP was so far as I know built with ethical competitive contracting in accordance with the law. The DH by contrast reeks of self-interested corrupt, behind-closed-door machinations of a criminal character. The supposed 'competitive procurement' was an insultingly obvious piece of theater staged to cover up a fixed deal. The whole procurement was contrived illegally behind closed doors in contempt of the state Open Meetings Law. That has been thoroughly documented in a complaint to the Office of Legislative Audits, and other agencies. Finally: why do you feel a need to hide behind this 'Business Owner' moniker. Those of us with nothing to hide write under our real names.

KellyAlzan

Very well said, samual. Good man.

Also, don’t forget about hotel taxes generated by competing hotels in the county are to be used to pay for the DH. Why should the DH benefit financially from the success of
Other hotels? It’s not fair.

jagman

Good. Keep the clock ticking until it runs out. Meanwhile, if the Plamondons and Randalls really, really, really want this hotel to go forward, they can simply fund it fully themselves. Absolutely no one is preventing them from doing just that.

KellyAlzan

Yep. If this was self funded, there would have been a ribbon cutting ceremony in April 2019. The insistence on using tax payer money is the hotels own enemy

DickD

[thumbup]

richardlyons

[thumbup]

FCPS-Principal

The hotel is badly needed. Hotels bring prostitutes, drug dealers and business customers, who all feed each other. What better place for such customers to walk around at night than downtown Frederick where they can buy pot, buy sex and get shot? Drugs and sex are what keep hotels in business. Public subsidies? No thanks.

Business Owner

Thoughtful and mature educators are needed as well.

KellyAlzan

This hotel is out for all to know.

There is real estate for sale in downtown Frederick.

Ok. So. Now, let’s think about this:

If a corner lot on a busy road is available - Sheetz, or WAWA, or royal farms, jumps on it without any delay. Right?

So, with other parcels for sale in downtown Frederick, and with the topic being out in the open, if this was such a hot idea, why hasn’t anyone from the hotel industry bought property and built a hotel and conference center? Sheetz never turns down an opportunity. Why are hoteliers not gobbling up the market?

DickD

Fairly cheap to put in a gas station with almost certain profits, the reverse of a hotel.

KellyAlzan

"fairly cheep"? Do you have any idea the costs?

Either way, it's all relevant.

DickD

You were the one that brought up gas stations as comparison, Kelly.

KellyAlzan

Dick, did you have a stroke recently? You’re having a hard time understanding lately.

Screenname63

Explain to me again
If the market will not support it
Why?

KellyAlzan

Because we do not have Amish farms and markets. We have a sea of town houses - aka - Urbana

Because we do not have a navy academy. We have heather ridge.

Because we do not have a colonial Williamsburg. We have the Golden Mile.

Because we do not have a historic harpers ferry. We have market street with bar shootings

Frederick city is beautiful in terms of old buildings. No different than Hanover pa. But Frederick city doesn’t have anyone more than that. It really doesn’t.

DickD

Well, it does have a Y, Kelly. LOL

gary4books

I do remember your list of what Frederick has.

FCPS-Principal

Socialism for business, not for people.

Business Owner

What analysis of the hotel market in Frederick led you to this conclusion? Please share.

shiftless88

Easy; the fact that no company is doing it on their own (while they ARE building hotels elsewhere in the city and local County) indicates that the market analysis does not support it. Pretty simple, really.

Frayou

Nothing more than a Government & Business Social Club which VIP’s can meet to Wine & Dine and discuss about more tax sponsored downtown projects, under the prolonged Revitalization Policy. Meanwhile, allocate $50,000 token grant for so called Former Golden Mile Revitalization Project. Time for downtown economic efforts to stand on its own.

gary4books

This is a good example of what organized opposition to a project combined with partisan politics can kill a project that would be a courtesy to visitors to Frederick. If the hotel did not need support for its first phase, we would have one now. Some have paid for agents in Annapolis to fight the project and local opposition may or may not be paid. That is really not relevant. If we can not explain how a hotel is a courtesy, we do not deserve one.

KellyAlzan

Are you for real?

gary4books

Very.

gabrielshorn2013

Here we go again Gary. The developers should not rely on a taxpayer funded honeypot for this project. It is not our function to assume their business risk. The developers of the Visitation Academy project are doing just fine without it. If you and the merchants in the area think there is a benefit, then pony up your money and be an investor. We are not organized opposition. We are County and State taxpayers who object to this use of our money, when there are projects that are far more important.

shiftless88

I think this whole thing is interesting for how the support is sort of mixed up from the typical R vs D. I actually agree with the R's on this, though I would say that R's in general tend to support public-private partnerships such as this. I am okay with investment like the linear park that benefit a wide number and variety of current and future businesses, but not investment to support one.

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed shiftless, but the linear park was a very much needed flood control measure, not a business. The usage as a park was secondary.

DickD

Using tax money for parks is reasonable, using tax money for a hotel is not reasonable.

Business Owner

The Carroll Creek Linear Park benefits many businesses.

Business Owner

If it had only been flood control (concrete pipes underground) it would have cost millions less.

gabrielshorn2013

BO, if it benefits many businesses, then they should have no problem ponying up the funds and investing, right? I mean it's a no risk slam dunk right? How much do you have invested?

shiftless88

It benefits many of us by providing a nice public space to walk in. And to hold various public events. None of that will come of this hotel and conference center.

gary4books

Thank you for sharing.

FCPS-Principal

A courtesy? A hotel is no courtesy. It is a profit-driven business. As such it needs to invest its own money into what is an expansion without tax handouts or subsidies. It needs to expand on its own merits.

jagman

The hotel would only be a "courtesy" to visitors if the rooms were free.

Get real, Gary, it's a business, nothing more. And the P's & R's want taxpayer money to help fund their business. As another comment said, write your own check if you think it is such a good idea.

gary4books

If a visitor is in town for a meal or a taste, they will be happy to stay over if it is convenient. And that is a courtesy. If I could I might support the plan. However, I am a retired librarian. Is that a reason to disparage?

jagman

It would only be a "courtesy" if that visitor could use the room for free. If the room comes with an overnight fee, it's a business transaction. See the difference?

MD1756

Gary, please tell me how many people are not coming to Frederick because of lack of hotel rooms nearby?

gary4books

Now how could I know that?

Vegan

The answer is zero.

MD1756

You seem to believe that the existing supply is not adequate even though there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs within 1 1/2 to 3 miles of downtown Frederick. For the "courtesy" you want to provide, unless there is a shortfall of rooms available, for the most part, you'll likely to only be taking business from existing hotels. That's not a good use of tax payer's dollars and is not a core responsibility of the government especially when it is not fully funding maintenance and growth of existing and/or needed infrastructure.

bryan

I cannot believe that $5 million of a $200 million dollar project can be the determining factor to the financial viability of the project. Plamadond/Marriott just wants to wait it out to see if they can get free money, and I don't blame them, good move. We NEED a downtown hotel, our Airbnbs and the others in our group are booked solid this summer...and a hotel will help us too. But none of us received ANY money from the state or city when we invested in our Airbnbs, why should the hotel? If it's a good business venture, the financial projections will show that...without public money. If the numbers don't work, don't build it or go back to the drawing board. Simple Business 101.

KellyAlzan

Exactly. Not to mention the crooked wrangling thencity did in steering the project so solely the plamandoon brothers.

gary4books

Complicates is not always crooked.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] bryan.

shiftless88

I am pretty sure that when the clock runs out a hotel will be built anyway

Business Owner

Comparing Airbnbs to a hotel/conference center with 200 rooms and approximately 25,000 of conference space is ridiculous. You failed business 101.

gabrielshorn2013

And planning a hotel with parking for only half the number of rooms fails business 101, unless of course they only plan on a 50% occupancy rate. No business traveler willing to schlep their bags a few blocks from the parking deck to the hotel, especially if it is dark or raining. The team refurbishing Visitation Academy for use as a hotel are relying on their investors to fund the project and assume the business risk. The taxpayers should not have to assume any risks for the Plamondons. Business 101 back atcha.

Business Owner

The plan includes plenty of parking for the number of rooms contemplated and I guess you've never heard of a parking valet. The visitation academy plan includes other uses (residential townhomes, restaurant) and the hotel portion is a relatively small component of the overall project -- it will actually compete with Airbnbs. Also, I think this project is using tax credits for the renovations which are (oh the horrors!) tax payer funded. Read the material available to you at no cost from the City Planning Office.

gabrielshorn2013

It's more than tax credits and you know it. It is direct financing of the supporting infrastructure. Like I said before. Invest your own money. Ours is needed for other, higher priority uses, such as school construction/rehab. If this project were truly financially viable, you and others would have invested their own money.

gabrielshorn2013

Should have said "It's more than tax credits FOT THE PLAMONDONS HOTEL and you know it." Tax credits are significantly different than direct funding like the hotel requires.

Burgessdr

Apples and oranges. You didn't have to build a parking garage for your guests. You didn't have to build a new building downtown in an historic district meeting historic guidelines. . You did of course have to get a key lock approved. Whoopee. You didn't have to make changes to streets sidewalks and signal lights. You have no conference facility drawing guests. Etc etc etc. Faulty comparison.

richardlyons

[thumbup][thumbup]

DickD

Thank you Mike Hough. And Pippy you are right, there's no reason for the public to support it as there's no benefits to the general public. Just the Randalls and the Plamondons benefit with maybe a few tourists.

threecents

Actually it probably will bring in lots of customers for downtown businesses and will be easily the best local choice when Fredericktonians need a large venue for an event or conference.

petersamuel

I was all in favor of this project until I delved into it a bit and saw it was a blatantly corrupt bit of crony capitalism to enrich one of a small inner circle. If this goes through we will stink like the City of Chicago. And as well as being wrong, it is bad for business when potential investors and entrepreneurs see that things are controlled by an insider cabal with access to taxpayer money to undercut the honest investors relying on their own $s. Finally this City sponsorship hasn't even been able to deliver the goods after nearly ten years of messing around. I'd like to think that critics of the project have held it up, but don't think that's true. The project is managed by bureaucrats who get their 6-figure salaries regardless of whether anything actually gets built. If anything they benefit by it going on almost for ever.

gary4books

Peter: An interesting insight and your views are appreciated. We do agree on other topics. I do not know local politics as well as I could, but compared to the Texas scene it seems very honest here. Amd I would like a hotel here even if it is not a great money maker. Some city services do cost and are worth it.

FrederickFan

This project will bring money to city, county, and state budgets. Don't be short sighted.

gabrielshorn2013

It would anyway WITHOUT taxpayer funding. The developers are just waiting us out in anticipation of that taxpayer honeypot.

MD1756

Threecents and FrederickFan, do either of you have realistic cost benefit analysis of the project? What is the likely rate of return to the tax payers. I suspect the money would be better spent on infrastructure.

petersamuel

So do hotels that don't ask for taxpayer subsidies. Most of the patronage of the hotel downtown would be at the expense of other hotels who will pay lower taxes as a result. It is not at all clear there would be a net benefit to government budgets. These kinds of crony schemes have been most common in Chicago, NJ and California, places with the highest taxes and the biggest budgetary problems.

rlc5495

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

Business Owner

Mike Hough and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are kindred spirits.

mrnatural1

How so Business Owner?

DickD

SMH,how?

richardlyons

[lol]

petersamuel

Hough is a moderate free-market, low tax, small government conservative. AOC is a radical big-statist, anti-market, large government radical. They couldn't be more different.

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