It takes time to do big things. As Mayor Randy McClement observed Thursday, it has taken eight years to produce the latest vision of the proposed downtown hotel and conference center.

It’s been worth the wait.

The plan, sketches and model unveiled before a packed room at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center show a project that is coming together beautifully. In its scale, in its design and even in the financing behind it all, the revised proposal shows that developers have taken account of community feedback — and criticism — in refining the project.

The new design for the hotel and conference center would be lower — four floors instead of five — and it would have fewer rooms — 180 instead of 240. The reduced mass and height of the building will preserve views of Frederick’s iconic steeples, answering a concern raised by the initial sketches. And we are especially pleased to learn that the hotel will provide public access to the rooftop, for all of us to enjoy the views.

The new design shows thoughtful consideration of the project’s setting, in the heart of Frederick’s historic downtown, along the city’s centerpiece Carroll Creek Linear Park. Parking will be underground and out of sight. Lining the creek will be the hotel lobby, a restaurant and meeting space, bringing hotel activity right to the creek. The new design is also sensitive to how the building meshes with the streetscape along Patrick and Carroll streets, reinvigorating the historic trolley building on Patrick and providing street-level access to new shops and restaurants along Carroll.

Critically, public officials and developer Pete Plamondon, of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, have clarified the role that public funding will play in bringing this project to Frederick. What opposition there has been to the project has largely centered on the use of public money. Officials emphasized that no public money will be spent building or operating the hotel or the conference center.

Public money is still required — about $30 million from state, county and city sources. It will be used for “land acquisition, grading and site preparation, utilities, on-site public parking and related off-site roadway improvements,” according to a city press release.

That’s entirely appropriate. Most of the money would be generated by the project itself, so it isn’t being pulled from other uses. That public money wouldn’t exist without the project. More importantly, this project has the potential to be transformational for downtown Frederick. It would add momentum to development all along the creek and provide a vital link between downtown and east Frederick. It would help large local businesses that need gathering spaces. And by attracting thousands of visitors downtown, the hotel and conference center will bring cultural vitality to the city — and revenue to shops and local restaurants.

In supporting jobs, tax revenue and an active, attractive downtown, this is exactly the kind of smart public-private partnership that builds great cities like Frederick. It benefits all of us, the very definition of a public investment.

There is still more to be done, of course. Among other steps, the developers will need to work with the Historic Preservation Commission to ensure their plans meet city guidelines. We trust the HPC will work productively on the project. And the developers will need approval to remove a small vacant building on the site known as the Birely Tannery.

The fate of the Birely Tannery has been another flashpoint in the public discussion about the hotel and conference center. Plamondon said removing the Birely Tannery was necessary, but that element of the city’s tanning history would be incorporated into the project. Some of that was on display at the unveiling; the architect pointed out creek-side trellises that reference drying racks used in tanning operations. That approach, we believe, offers a reasonable compromise to honoring the city’s industrial past while building for the future.

At the end of the presentation, McClement called to the front of the room some of the people who have worked to push this project forward. It was a long line of public officials and community members, too many to mention them all by name here. But it was maybe the best part of the whole event, because it showed just how many people have invested so much time and effort in making this happen. With that kind of broad support, and with the willingness to adapt to community input that was shown in the latest plans, we are confident Frederick will get the downtown hotel and conference center it deserves.

(18) comments

sevenstones1000

The current building, as per the drawings, is extremely ugly. It is an industrial, flat roofed monstrosity. The space is barren if trees, and looms, unscreeened, over the sidewalk. Out downtown deserves a beautiful, graceful design that will complement the best of the old town area.

This hotel could double as a so-so cancer treatment center or warehouse office building for government drones.

Please redesign it. Look at historic and classic hotels for inspiration.

jagman

The Randalls & Plamondons have successfully looted the taxpayers of Frederick City, Frederick County and the state of Maryland. Aided and abetted by soft-headed local politicians.
Congratulations to all of you!

dremsberg

I think a full financial disclosure is order - each successive article in this seems to offer an ever changing view of who is paying for what - and just bits of prices being spoon fed to the public. Don't know if that us the fault of the news post or just a result of trying to sell this highly politicized project to the public. Specifically - if the public is paying for the land does that mean the land will be publicly owned - if so, does that mean exempt from property taxes? Or is ownership of the land the hotel will sit on being conveyed to Plamondon - if that is so does that mean he gets the land no charge or is there a loin locally funded loan Taft he must pay back? If the county retains ownership of the land what are the specifics of the deal letting a private entity build on the land. The convention center I assume will be owned publicly - how will that be managed - a contract with Plamondion or another 3rdy party? I don't know and have a lot more questions - what the news post has reported is vague at best. The public has the right to know exactly what they are paying for, who retains ownership, who is responsible for running the conference center, etc. if this was a private deal it would be none of our concern - but it isn't. Also money is coming from state, county and city - 3 sources - so what is the vested interest of each of those parties. A lot of complicated dealing going on here - hope it us not back room dealing and hope the public gets accurate detailed specific answers to these questions

gary4books

My appreciation to those who made suggestions to improve the hotel's design. Working together we an bring more customers to the downtown area and perhaps stay longer in Frederick. This is great for Frederick.

Nicki

I agree, Gary!
The naysayers remind me of the folks that railed against the Carrol Creek project.

KellyAlzan

Carroll creek project was needed. For the sake of the buildings in Frederick.
This hotel is not needed. Two totally different scenarios

DickD

Gary, it is not about the hotel being great, it is about the misuse of tax money.

DickD

The only way this would make me happy would be for them to use their money, not tax money.

Dwasserba

"And the developers will need approval to remove a small vacant building on the site known as the Birely Tannery." Without the "small building" it wouldn't have been much of a tannery. Nice try though.

dawsongrove

Too big for downtown! The creek is not the inner harbor. I hope for all our sakes it succeeds, but I doubt it.

jerseygrl42

If you read the front page story its actually approx $31 Million of taxpayer money to support this $80 Million boondoggle, the prior figures as published in this paper were $84 Million with $53 from the Plamondons and $31 from taxpayers so in fact the taxpayer share of the cost has increased from approx 36% to 39% and you think this is "entirely appropriate", but you don't tell us why it is appropriate to use tax dollars to enrich 2 families while school children are forced to learn in trailer parks; if one takes the projection of 100 new jobs, the cost per job is more than $300,000...and you think that is appropriate??? and it would be good to know why you believe a building is going to "attract thousands of visitors"...I guess its good to know that the taxpayers money won't be used to operate the facility and I was unaware that was ever in the cards...but bottom line we are still being stripped of $31 Million that could build a elementary school or be put to other use that would benefit the citizens who actually pay these taxes.....must be fun spending other peoples money and shame on you all

Positive

Great editorial.

threecents

Is the city thinking about building a new parking garage nearby?

KellyAlzan

The founders of the Frederick News Post are rolling over in their graves.

wran

To me that is one ugly looking building. Reminds me of the monolithic buildings built in the Soviet Union.

sevenstones1000

It is ugly. I don't mind a downtown hotel, as the only place visitors can stay now is next to a strip mall. But it should reflect the feeling of our old town. This flat roofed horror should never be built.

dbjanda1

Are Frederick City and County Taxpayers going to get a discount or will they pay the same room rate as everyone else ???...Just Askin' ????

DickD

This just totally disgusts me!

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