BG FNP Hotel - MP

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

ANNAPOLIS — Last-minute changes to the state’s capital budget restored funding for the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center, but at lower levels than previously expected.

The House and Senate on Wednesday passed a capital budget that included amendments to two prior spending authorizations from 2016 and 2017 for the project. It will set aside a total of $5 million for land acquisition and work on the site.

Even with the funding in the budget, the Board of Public Works would have to add the grant to its agenda in order to actually allocate the money to the city of Frederick.

The amended bill does not include future funding that had been part of prior years’ budgets. In the last budget cycle, $7.5 million was allocated for the development in 2018 and 2019. An additional $3.5 million was slated to come in 2020.

Some delegates said that change created some confusion. Delegate Barrie Ciliberti (R-District 4) said he couldn’t speak to the funding because he had heard different information about it and was looking for further details as of Wednesday afternoon.

Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D-District 3A) was also asking questions about the budget, she said, because she understood the amounts from last year’s bill would be included, although she conceded that she may have misunderstood what she was told.

“I was surprised and disappointed,” she said.

Richard Griffin, the city’s director of economic development, and other project partners have said the project was still possible with only the $5 million authorized from the state, but that the preferred design included an additional $11 million for what was deemed an “optional” level of public parking. Now that the $11 million is not included in any future capital budgets, that extra parking is up in the air, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor said Wednesday.

While O’Connor said the city is still completely committed to the project, he is unsure of how, or if, the details of it — including the design, timelines and potential for other funding sources — will change without all of the proposed funds from the state.

“Until we have an opportunity to sit down and talk to our partners on the project, and that includes [developers] Plamondon [Hospitality Partners], it’s premature to assess what that means,” he said. “But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.”

O’Connor said he and other project proponents have made concerted efforts to communicate the need for the full $16 million in state funding for the project and he thought they were getting through.

Another change to the capital budget made it so that the Maryland Historical Trust will not review the grant as it would have previously.

Sen. Michael Hough (R-District 4), who supports the project but opposes state dollars going toward it, said that was a calculated move to cut the trust out of the process and bypass any opposition there.

Hough, the only senator to vote against the capital budget bill, also took issue with the amendments being added “in the dark of the night at the very last part of the process.”

O’Connor said that the amendment to no longer require approval from the Maryland Historical Trust will not affect the mitigation efforts underway at the historic project site.

“We are fully committed to doing mitigation,” he said. “We have to evaluate what the impact is.”

A memorandum of agreement between the city, the developers, the Department of Housing and Community Development and Maryland Historical Trust that will map out the methods and details of mitigating the historic elements of the site is awaiting a final vote from the Board of Aldermen. Officials have said the agreement is necessary because the project is set to receive state grant funds.

The planned multimillion-dollar, 180-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center is slated for development at 200-212 E. Patrick St. in downtown Frederick. Plans also include renovation of the historic Frederick Railroad building, which most recently housed The Frederick News-Post’s headquarters, into a dual retail center and potential office and residential space.

Frederick County’s General Assembly delegation has been divided on setting aside state funds to further the development. Democrats say it will facilitate public infrastructure improvements needed to move the project forward. Supporters have described the state funding as an investment to revitalize the area. Meanwhile, Republicans see it as akin to subsidizing a private business.

“They’re being very creative in trying to get taxpayer funds to support the developer,” said Delegate Kathy Afzali (R-District 4).

Lewis Young said the funding package for Frederick was restructured to go only toward public infrastructure improvements — a public parking garage and landscaping.

Both Griffin and Pete Plamondon Jr., co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiLoos. Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska.

(21) comments

jerseygrl42

Even $1 is too much; these folks are appropriating taxpayer dollars to enrich a couple of families, and calling this a "partnership" IS A SICK JOKE PLAYED ON THE CITIZENS...There is NO Partnership, rather Simply A Way to Attempt to Rationalize Taking $$$ From Taxpayers with absolutely no ROI except for Plamondon and Randall families....disgusting and shameful

Dwasserba

"Supporters have described the state funding as an investment to revitalize the area." ???! Okay, this is just insulting...

KellyAlzan

The Gardener loving liberals are so embarrassed that their girl supports exactly the crooked activity that got Ba’Lane booted out [lol][lol][lol][lol][lol][lol]

FrederickFan

What help? County Executive Gardner has never offered any help to this developer.

Tit - you are free in these forms to support candidates and public policy that betray the taxpayers, such as public support for residential development. Therefore you don't support CE Gardner, who rejects that. But you and Kelly Alzan should stop your relentless lying about the County's role in this proposal.

Over the decades, Frederick County has always made a contribution to EVERY downtown Frederick City parking garage. CE Gardner has said she will not abandon that longstanding policy. No more.

KellyAlzan

Please explain in specificity where I have “lied”.

Gardner has clearly stated she supports the hotel at hand. It’s well documented.

The hotel at hand is as dirty of a deal as Ba’Lane Young’s deals.

Fire away!

KellyAlzan

And I will not be stopping anything. Didn’t mean to upset you so severely!

StrengthofLiberty

Since we now know the linguistic nature of the politician and his "supporters" - We who foot the bill must ask a question about the long term fate of this public treasury swindle: How long after this three star party palace is built does it become a casino? Or - how long before Maryland just really needs more tax revenue - so - Annapolis legalizes gambling. Why not prostitution too? I read in the FNP that's big business. With all the core structural realities municipalities are facing across this nation - Cosmetic, retrofitting projects are cynical in the face of urgent human needs.

Titanman123

Still confused why Jan gets a free pass to help this developer?

KellyAlzan

Me too: this is exactly in line with ba’lane’s nursing home deal; steering it to one developer.

FrederickFan

The City had a competitive bidding process for this project. Plamondin's proposal beat out others. You have no idea what you are talking about.

This has absolutely nothing to do with, and has absolutely nothing in common with Blaine Young's attempt to trash the nursing homes.

KellyAlzan

The city did not. It was a dirty bidding process. And rigged before any ink ever hit paper.

matts853

I usually agree with you FF, but people have exposed that the RFP was a sham. Plamondon was pre-selected. Also, I think the HAC is guilty of open meetings violations.

This deal is fraudulent in my opinion, and way overpriced.

shiftless88

Titanman; I'm unsure why you think she gets a free pass. I support Jan in general but I do not support any money going towards this project.

KellyAlzan

If the leaders want this hotel so bad, then here’s an idea:

Find a developer who is self-funded and then you won’t be at the mercy of the state’s approval process

Mardi35

More unique old buildings torn down for what? A hotel? Very dull and a waste. Our tourist will go elsewhere.

Dwasserba

...such as the Visitation boutique hotel with a history, built-in chapel, gardens and quaint cemetery.. Oh, wait. Forgot how staying at a Marriott is on everyone's bucket list.

Jane and Ed

Here is the exact language: If its not for the Hotel and Conference Center why does the Bill say it is for the Hotel and Conferencecenter. Don't buy the spin! This is not for just public infrastructure and we have a City Parking Fund for Parking decks and do not get State funds to build them! "Downtown Frederick Hotel and Conference Center.
Provide a grant of $1,000,000 to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Frederick for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair,
renovation, and reconstruction of the Downtown Frederick
Hotel and Conference Center, located in Frederick County
.
NOT WITHSTANDING ANY O
THER PROVISION OF LAW
,
THIS GRANT IS NOT SUBJECT
TO REVIEW BY THE
MARYLAND
HISTORICAL
TRUST
(Frederick County)
................................

Burgessdr

"We" have a City Parking Fund? Huh? Its news to me that Middletown has one. #stopbeingdelusiontakeyourmeds

Jane and Ed

This happens each year and the Board of Public Works crosses it out and refuses to fund it. Here we go again. But this time they changed the language in the bill to exclude review by the Maryland Historical Trust! This is a big deal! The Frederick Elected Officials and Department of Economic Development need to get into the race to the bottom with all the other foolish cities that lose money subsidizing Hotel Conference center projects! Downtown Frederick tag line "Hip and Historic" is gonna need to change to "We are killing ourselves to be like everybody else!" . Stupid move Frederick.

Burgessdr

MHT is reviewing mitigation
Reviewing land sales and parking garages is not what it does. #stopbeingdelusionaltakeyourmeds

matts853

It doesn't matter if the money they're seeking will be used to pay for dishes and linens. Public funds are going into this project.

It's almost becoming a running joke in Annapolis every year. Will they or won't they and how much?

This project is a Gordian Knot of corruption, mismanagement and who's on first incompetence. It's very entertaining.

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