The city says this is one of many steps toward the construction of the facility.
Frederick, Md (KM) Another step was taken Thursday night in the approval process for the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center. In a unanimous vote, the Board of Aldermen approved the acceptance of two state grants toward the project which total $5-million.
Richard Griffin, the city’s Director of Economic Development, says the funds will be used for project site acquisition and preparation, an on-site public parking structure, related utility improvements, and related road, streetscape and creekscape improvements.
“This is a grant agreement that goes back to the state. And from there, there are several other steps that have to be followed in order for us to actually utilize these dollars,” says Griffin. Those steps include approval by the Maryland Board of Public Works; approval of the Final Master Plan Agreements and leases between the City of Frederick and Plamondon Hospitality Partners by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen; approval of a Memorandum of Agreement with the Maryland Historic Trust; approval of the Project for development by the City of Frederick Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning Commission and the Permits Department.
The hotel and conference center, which has been discussed for more than 30 years, is planned for Carroll Street. It will have 183 rooms, 20,000 square feet of conference space, and 160 to 170 parking spaces. It will also use part of the former News-Post building on East Patrick Street. But Mayor Randy McClement has said previously it may undergo some changes before it’s finally constructed.
The city has awarded the contract to operate the hotel and conference center to Plamondon Hospitality Partners.
During the Board of Aldermen meeting Thursday night, several opponents spoke out against it. Peter Samuel noted that because it’s undergone some changes over the years, amendments need to be made to the memorandum of understanding approved by the city and the county. “This project is not moving fast. And I think you should take the time to spell out and consider and have a public debate on the changes that have been made by way of an amendment to the MOU,” he said.
Supporters say Plamondon Hospitality Partners will take all risks in building this facility and the public will not be on the hook if the project fails. Opponent Jane Weir says a considerable amount of public money has gone into paying for a feasibility study, lobbying to get the state funds and setting up a bidding process which she called “unethical.” She said the request for proposal should be redone. “Better yet, stay out of it, and let the free market determine who is a winner or who is a loser in business in Frederick,” Weir said. “Don’t ruin the character of this beautiful historic district in this cool city by plopping a big box Marriott in the middle of it.”
Supporters also spoke, including Kara Norman with the Downtown Frederick Partnership. “I think that the hotel is another good way to build on that investment that we’ve all made as a community in Carroll Creek Park, as well as further grow the economic vitality and energy in downtown Frederick by having that hotel in place,” she said.
The Historic Preservation Commission will begin its review of the project next Thursday, July 13th.
By Kevin McManus