The proposed hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick, a public-private partnership, is projected to bring more than 275 jobs and generate $25.8 million in annual spending. Although a private developer would be responsible for the hotel itself, the city and county would take the lead in providing a public parking deck and any infrastructure the hotel will need.
Frederick County Council District 4 candidates Jessica Fitzwater (D) and Jimmy Trout (R) both say the hotel is needed and explained what steps the county needs to take to move the project along.
“If a hotel and conference center is needed, then someone is going to step up to the plate and build it,” Trout said.
Plamondon Hospitality Partners LLC wants to develop the 20,000-square-foot hotel, slated for 200-212 E. Patrick St., and Trout believes that to take on the multimillion-dollar project, the firm has done the proper research to see if there is an actual need for a hotel and conference center in the area.
Fitzwater, the incumbent, believes the hotel is a “great project” for the city and county and that downtown needs such a business.
“It’s obviously a need,” she said. “It’s not something we currently have. The city keeps growing, not just in the number of businesses that are being attracted to the city but also tourists, and I just think it’s a great opportunity to continue that boom that we’re in right now.
“It’s also great for the east side of the city, it has the potential to really connect Carroll Creek and Shab Row and East Street into the Patrick and Market Street corridor.”
Throughout all the discussion, officials have looked for state grants to help with infrastructure needs for the hotel and have gotten some funding, but not as much as expected.
Fitzwater said public-private partnerships are “very complicated and have so many moving parts” but that it’s not uncommon for things to change throughout the process as it evolves. If re-elected, she would advocate seeking more grant money for the county and city’s role in the project.
She believes the county’s role is “fairly minor,” she said there will be more opportunities to apply for state funding for the project.
“I would work with the county executive and the county partners to advocate for more state funding,” she said. “Whenever any agreements or contracts that need to come before the County Council, I’ll make sure that I do my research and talk to my constituents and get as much feedback as possible before voting on anything that the county will need to do to be involved.”
If elected, Trout said he would not fight for more state funding, explaining that if funds are needed to upgrade infrastructure needs then he would “go to bat for them,” but he is not in favor of getting subsidies for the project.
He explained that what has been shown to him is the number of jobs and tax revenue the hotel will generate will pay for itself “pretty quickly.”
Over the course of the project, opponents of the hotel have said that not enough information has been released to the public, but both candidates disagree and said that whenever they asked for information, they received it.
“In my opinion, once you have the facts of the project, it’s hard not to support it,” Fitzwater said.
Trout said he doesn’t believe anyone involved has anything to hide.
If elected, he said he would push to get “everybody at the table” to plan the next steps and to make sure everyone is on the same page.
District 4 includes about half of the city of Frederick and sections east of it. County Council members serve four-year terms and make $22,500 per year. Early voting for the election begins Oct. 25, and Election Day is Nov. 6.