You claim (OUR VIEW: Hotel extension best available choice, May 13) that it would be a “disaster for the city” if Frederick withheld a proposed $150,000 payment requested by Mr. Plamondon to keep his downtown hotel alive and declined to renew — for the fourth time — his exclusive rights to negotiate a deal for millions of dollars more in city money for his project.

If there’s any disaster in prospect it lies in pouring more taxpayer money into this boondoggle on which taxpayers have already spent around $1 million. It is nearly seven years since the city chose Mr. Plamondon as its “partner” for the hotel. Time and again he and the city have failed to get their act together to complete the deal according to their promises.

Arguably they are further — not closer — to a deal now than they were in 2014. They’ve given up updating costs, their market studies are now eight and nine years old, historic preservation approvals have expired, a site plan was rejected, etc. They chose a lousy site — difficult to access, little street frontage, too small with a four-story height limit for 200+ rooms, 600 meeting room spots and parking. More fundamentally Frederick’s historic downtown is a day trip destination for visitors based in the greater D.C./Maryland/Northern Virginia metro area.

The pandemic saw a devastating shutdown of travel, hotel business and conferences. City staff say the proposed fourth extension of Mr Plamondon’s city franchise to the end of 2023 will allow time for business to recover so that “the project can be financed.” But who knows if business travel and the conference center business will ever fully recover? Eighteen months of COVID lockdowns have seen most meetings and events go virtual with Zoom-like apps. Now that COVID is passing, many in-person meetings will come back, but many will not. Industry guesses are that the new “normal” could be 10 to 20 percent smaller than pre-pandemic. A new conference center will have to compete in a cut-throat market with established and underused facilities.

Most of us want to see more lodging downtown but it will work best in the historic district if it arises spontaneously with private capital. It is likely to be on a smaller scale like the Visitation Academy conversion on East 2nd Street but it can be accomplished without all the cronyism, the complexities, the delays and the taxpayer spending attendant on city sponsorship of a single monster hotel complex.

Peter Samuel

Frederick

(23) comments

Plumbum

What i find unbelievable is the historic district commission.

All we ever done is read about how strict the historic district commission is and how important it is to protect the historic aspects of the historic district.

We’ve read news story after new story about people being cited for using the wrong paint. For using the wrong paint color. For using plastic shutters instead of wood. For shutters not matching. We’ve read about all that time after time.

And somehow, the historic commission is ok with altering the existing building? And erecting a monstrosity 4 story building? Obstructing the view of the historic steeples??

How is this fair and balanced? How?

micky

Call it "infrastructure" and let Joe build it !!

Plumbum

Harpers Ferry is starting to see some positive action towards getting their hotel / conference center underway. Appearing likely the town will deed land to the developer.

If you’re looking for a place to hold your convention, would you choose a place with a River view and an easy drive? Or would you choose a hotel in a city with daily gun fire and traffic back ups and endless traffic lights?

gjthuro

very true it is a bad idea and making the taxpayers contribute to this bad idea is disgustingly ignorant

mrnatural1

How 'bout if the hotel comes complete with a MONORAIL?!:

https://youtu.be/taJ4MFCxiuo

Then it would be failure proof!

No investment is too great to ensure the success of this hotel.

There is no higher priority.

[rolleyes]

PurplePickles aka L&M

I really wish we could follow the money....after the city pays $150,000 to Mr Plamondon, I would like to follow that money. Where does Mr Plamondon’s $150,00 payment go after that? and to whom? Why would the city keep giving him money?

PurplePickles aka L&M

Maybe the next Mayor could do some investigating? Yeah I will definitely vote a Mayor that would look into this deal......

Plumbum

I read the story before I read the comments.

And as I was reading, I was thinking “what exactly is plamamdoon doing with this money?”

Hope you’re having a great holiday weekend pretty pickle!

petersamuel

Plumbum: you make a good point. The draft order simply says the $150,000 is a non-repayable grant to assist with Plamondon's design changes, 'diligences' (weird word for employing consultants to study the market, file for permits) and land purchase carry costs. It doesn't say what these various costs are that we taxpayers will assist with -- if the thing passes. It doesn't explain them at all. Plamondon doesn't have to submit any invoices. He doesn't have to account for how he spends it. He gets the whole $150,000 in one shot on or before July 15. Note: he can dump the whole project at any time and he doesn't repay a cent of what will be around $400,000 he has received in taxpayer money. It is a disgrace, in my opinion, a shameful abuse of City taxpayers.

gabrielshorn2013

👍👍👍 petersamuel!

Plumbum

The money paid thus far could have purchased metal detectors for schools. Yes, I realize the city doesn’t find schools (for those that think they’re saving the day by schooling me). I’m just making a point that the money could be better spent.

Plumbum

*fund

Not “find”

Dwasserba

Nice try, Mr. Samuel. Few commenters would disagree, but obviously this has not mattered. One voice always wants this hotel there as a “courtesy” to sleepy half-drunk strangers lurching about downtown iso somewhere pricey and upscale to crash. Not his words. “We” would have already offered hospitality. Call them an Uber, and go where hotels are. Shuttle them back to their cars in the morning after their free breakfast.

Plumbum

The only commenter that wants it as a courtesy is that weird older guy. Can’t think of his name right now.

petersamuel

Donald Burgess?

Plumbum

No, not Donald. Donald is an obnoxious loud mouth.

The dudes name is Gary. Polite gentleman. Commenter here. Usually reasonable. But he supports the hotel as a “courtesy”.

The problem is, a very prominent wealthy family would be profiting. The plamandoons probably rank in the top 8 of the wealthiest in the county.

It would be a courtesy to say the least. A courtesy to extremely wealthy people, the plamandoons.

Piedmontgardener

Peter, thinking like this belongs in office. Please consider that route, your mind would be a welcome addition.

Plumbum

[thumbup]

threecents

How about using the Keys stadium as a hotel site?

DickD

Thank you Peter.

gabrielshorn2013

Well put Mr. Samuel. It's time to let this boondoggle die the death it deserves.

BigAl

Cui Bono?

petersamuel

Who benefits? Short-term Plamondon with a $150,000 no-strings check from the City. My impression is he is still a sincere believer in the project and will spend the money on it. But I can't see him benefiting from that because I can't see the project succeeding. Wrong project, wrong place, wrong time. In the end the people benefiting financially are the huge host of consultants. One of them I spoke to said he's getting his bills paid but that it's frustrating because stuff gets done over and over. No decision holds.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!