BG FNP Hotel - MP (copy)

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.

ANNAPOLIS — Frederick County and its municipalities stand to benefit from Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2020 budget, which was introduced to the General Assembly on Friday. One closely watched project, however, remains unfunded.

Hogan’s proposed $46.6 billion budget invests in education and transportation, while putting aside 6.5 percent of state revenue in a Rainy Day Fund. Highlights of the budget include a 10 percent increase in local transportation aid driven by highway user revenue formulas, a $6.9 billion statewide investment in education and multiple capital investments in roads around Frederick County.

One item that is not funded, however, is the proposed hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick.

Delegate Carol Krimm (D-District 3A), the county delegation’s chairwoman, said that she was disappointed by the lack of money for the hotel and conference center in the governor’s budget, but that she would continue to support the project and work to secure funding for it.

City of Frederick officials shared a similar sentiment, after initially being optimistic about receiving funding this year.

“Our plan is to continue to work with the delegation to do what we can do to secure the funds we need to get the project completed,” Mayor Michael O’Connor said on Friday. “Five million dollars has already been allocated by the General Assembly, and we need to work through the process to get that money through the Board of Public Works to get that approved.”

Pete Plamondon, co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, which plans to develop the site, did not return a call for comment.

Proponents of the downtown hotel have been meeting with members of the Frederick County delegation to discuss the project, but they have not yet come in front of the entire delegation to request their support, Sen. Michael Hough said on Friday.

Hough (R-District 4) has historically not supported state funding for the hotel and conference center, which is slated for development at 200-212 E. Patrick St. in downtown Frederick. He would support giving the project a fair hearing in front of the delegation, though he remained concerned of past efforts to circumvent the delegation since its members voted the project down in their last term.

The scope of how public funds would be used for the project has changed over time. A plan released by Plamondon Hospitality Partners in the spring of 2017 ensured that money from the city, Frederick County and the state would not fund construction of the hotel or conference center. The public money will instead focus on the construction of public infrastructure such as parking, road, utility, streetscape and creek area improvements, The News-Post reported.

Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D-District 3A) said she prefers to call the hotel the Public Infrastructure Project, which better reflects the current proposal to use state funds for parking.

“I believe that this change of funding warrants a new conversation, particularly since there are three new members of the delegation,” Lewis Young said by email Friday.

Last year, the capital budget was amended at the last minute to include $5 million for land acquisition and work on the site, The News-Post reported. Richard Griffin, the city’s director of economic development, said at the time that the project was possible with only the $5 million, but the preferred design included $11 million more for additional public parking. Without the $11 million, the extra parking was up in the air.

If more money were to be added for the project, Hough said he would prefer for it to be decided by the delegation, rather than an amendment without the delegation’s support in the chambers.

“It continues this standoff, unless they get delegation support,” Hough said.

Local allocations

A number of capital grant projects in Frederick County, however, were proposed to be funded in the governor’s budget.

A total of $9.6 million was allocated to the Maryland Independent College and University Association to be divided between four projects, including two in Frederick County. Hood College and Mount St. Mary’s University are each slated to receive $2.4 million to help cover the cost of renovating buildings on their campuses.

The city of Brunswick may also receive aid from the state to complete three projects. The largest is a $483,000 grant for a new emergency operations center as well as two, $100,000 grants to repair a stormwater tunnel and to built a new public works building.

The city of Brunswick sustained substantial damage to its public works building during the floods last May. The first floor flooded, which caused the city to discard many pieces of equipment and remediate the rest for mold.

One of the grants will help the city cover the cost of a new building, so that it does not need to store equipment in the building that flooded, said City Manager David Dunn. The other grant will help repair a stormwater tunnel — known as the Martins Creek tunnel — which runs under City Hall and Square Corner Park. Each project is expected to cost $200,000.

“We asked for more on each project but we are elated with what the Governor has budgeted,” Dunn said by email.

The largest of the projects, the emergency operations center — which will also be shared by the police department and department of public works — is expected to cost $500,000. Dunn and Mayor Jeff Snoots plan to visit the Frederick County delegation in Annapolis next week to discuss an additional $100,000 bond to help fund the project.

“It’s not a wealthy jurisdiction. It has a downtown with a lot of [infrastructure] needs,” said Hough, who supported the inclusion of the Brunswick projects in the governor’s budget.

The governor also supported allocating $250,000 for stage renovations to New Spire Arts. The Frederick County ROOT Business and Technology Cultivation Center was also pegged to receive $250,000.

The state budget also proposes investing heavily in a new YMCA for southern Frederick County, proposing to contribute $400,000 to the building.

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford also announced last week that the state would commit half a million dollars to the establishment of a detox facility in Frederick County. The $500,000 promise was listed in Hogan’s capital budget.

“Overall, we did very well as a county in that budget,” Hough said.

Staff writer Mallory Panuska contributed to this report.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

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

(28) comments

mrnatural1

This is one of those rare subjects that people from across the political spectrum can agree on.

From libertarians to democratic socialists -- almost all of us are adamantly opposed to the idea of our tax dollars supporting a private business. Politicians who are involved in this scheme should take note. This is not your typical left vs right issue. Very few of your constituents support this and you are liable to be voted out of office if you insist on ramming it through.

What they claim our public money would be spent on -- roads, parking garages, land acquisition, wishing wells, etc -- is irrelevant. That's the same shell game drug addicts and alcoholics use:

"Hey lady, I need money to, um, pay my rent (put gas in my car, etc). Can you help me out?"

Even if the person does need to pay their rent, the fact is that helping them out means they will have more money to buy drugs.

Anyone who wants to build a hotel (or shopping center, or residential development, etc) should pay for ALL of the necessary improvements to infrastructure. After all, if their hotel/development were not there, then we would not need that additional infrastructure.

This proposed hotel project is the equivalent of a developer submitting a proposal to build a bunch of houses in the middle of what used to be a farm and then demanding that existing residents pay for the necessary roads, bridges, schools, parks, police & fire protection, libraries, bike paths, etc.

Oh wait, that's actually what they do.

gabrielshorn2013

Excellent summary of our position mrnatural. 👍👍👍If this project were needed and financially viable, the developers and their investors would have covered the entire cost long ago!

KellyAlzan

And yet, the Young’s got re-elected. Doesn’t make sense.

gary4books

Being in agreement does not mean you are correct. "laissez faire" is a dated and sloppy way to go.

threecents

I don't know if there is now, but there was wide support for public dollars going to help put in a conference center/hotel in downtown Frederick. I think all of our current and past Aldermen were for it. While I have not been for it on principle, I think it might have been a good investment.

bicep42

Great news! Let the developers pay for their own projects WITHOUT taxpayer dollars.

DickD

OMG, the Randalls and the Plamondons will have to foot the bill for their hotel parking. [scared]

bosco

You hit the nail on the head, Dick. Love it😅

gary4books

Why make this personal. Either we need a hotel downtown or we do not. And since location is so important when deciding where to stay, downtown is where we need it. Why care if one family or the other profits? Is this personal?

KellyAlzan

Many of us care. Especially those of us who are self made business owners.

jerseygrl42

This is good news and one has to wonder why Krimm is disappointed that $11 million and hopefully $16 Million is not taken from the taxpayers to increase the wealth of the Plamondon folks and of course Lewis Young wants to change the category so that it sounds better to abscond with the money that could be used for sooooo many better projects...with new hotels popping up all around the city this project is totally unnecessary and sound minds would kill it ...unless those who will benefit financially build it with their own money

petersamuel

Not a cent of state money should go to this project because (1) the procurement of the developer was corrupt and fraudulent, the winning proposal having been received and worked on before the Request for Proposals went out, and conditions set to limit bids, the scoring of which was absurdly biased (2) public subsidies for a private business are unnecessary, unfair to competitors and a waste of public money (3) the City’s management of the project has been pathetically inept so that after eight years they cannot even produce a site plan which the City Planning Department can permit. Promising one insider tens of millions of public funds had the immediate effect of discouraging private investment in accommodation downtown. Now that it is clear the project is such a mess of a boondoggle it may never get built or if it is built will be largely wasting public money, we have a hotel being built by investors nearby at the Visitation Academy without public subsidies and without the burden of inept City “sponsorship.” P Samuel.

KellyAlzan

The current politicians along with the plamandoon brothers are waiting for Hogan to be out of office

Burgessdr

PSamuel You forgot Visitation Academy $6 million in tax credits

dabittle

IF a hotel could be a profitable endeavor in the city of Frederick, well then, I say let it be constructed with private, not public, money. As any and all profits will most assuredly be private, not public! And, to those downtown businesses touting the benefits of, and the ancillary monies made from, such an "investment", those will most assuredly be kept private, too! So, there is NO upside for taxpayers to get involved in such unprofitable pursuits unless you want Frederick City to raise your taxes--which will be the inevitable outcome of a publicly funded hotel in Frederick City!

gary4books

If we could have a downtown Hotel without some public support, we would already have one. The benefits to local businesses and as a courtesy o our visitors make it important to have this funded. It is sad that Frederick County Republicans from outside the city will not support the city of Frederick.

KellyAlzan

There has been no opportunity for this hotel to be built without public support. None. Why do you steadfastly refuse to see this?

DickD

How does that support Frederick, gary? Some small change for meals and what else? And how will that deprive the real entrepreneurs that pay for their own hotel parking?

shiftless88

Heck, if the downtown businesses want it so bad they can all chip in a bit for it.

gary4books

They did chip in. We call that taxes.

KellyAlzan

That’s just it, Gary. Hence the majority public opposition.

gabrielshorn2013

No Gary, they didn't, and that's really a stretch. If the downtown businesses chipped in for this as an investment where they will realize a return on their investment would be fair. Use of tax money, including taking money from the hotel's competitors to support this boondoggle is wrong.

KellyAlzan

And taxing hotels to pay for this hotel is just downright desperate. I can’t believe anyone voted in agreement to such a silly idea.

So, my hotel, has to subsidize (through room tax) my competition? That is like Ronald Young being forced to give a position of his campaign donations to Hough.

KellyAlzan

*to give a portion.
Not “position”

Frayou

Designated grant money to Needed projects. No tax money should go towards a social club for the downtown elites.

bosco

"Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D-District 3A) said she prefers to call the hotel the Public Infrastructure Project, which better reflects the current proposal to use state funds for parking."

Sarcasm alert - Now there's a typical politician's solution, change the name of the project. Just like changing the name of Sagner to make the crime go away.

KMRD1

Thank you Gov Hogan for not supporting to give tax payers money for the downtown Hotel. This is one reason I voted for a second term for you.

senorris

Good news for Brunswick.

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