Frederick Aldermen Approve New MOU For Downtown Hotel & Conference Center

It replaces one adopted in December, 2015.


Frederick, Md (KM). In a unanimous vote on Thursday night, the Frederick Board of Aldermen approved a new memorandum of understanding between the city and Plamondon Hospitality Partners  regarding the proposed downtown hotel and conference center.

The new document address a number of issues, which includes adding a formula for tracking ground lease rent; committing the city and the developer, Plamondon Hospitality Partners, to work on an  historic mitigation work plan, and continue working with the Maryland Historic Trust; both parties agreeing to carrying out the city’s purchasing policies and procedures, especially when it comes to deciding on a range of qualified contractors. In addition, the city and the developer will come up with an overflow parking plan; any cost overruns not caused by a city initiated  change in scope are the responsibility of the developer; and the developer will renovate the former Frederick Trolley building on East Patrick Street, which once housed the Frederick News-Post.

“In no instance is public funding being used to help construct the hotel or the conference center component of the project,”  said Richard Griffin, the city’s Director or Economic Development.

The project to be located at the intersection of East Patrick Street and Carroll Street, will have 199 rooms, a 27,000-square-foot conference center and 160 parking spaces. There will also be retail space, a parking garage with a podium roof, a terrace on the Carroll Creek Park and renovation of the historic Frederick Railroad Building.

The contract also says Plamondon Hospitality Partners will be responsible for all costs of design, construction, ownership, operation and maintenance of the hotel and conference center, which are estimated to $55-million. The city will invest $17.5-million in site preparation and public infrastructure costs. It will use the parking fund and bond proceeds from the city and county hotel tax revenue along with state grants.

The city will also own the land, and lease it to Plamondon Hospitality Partners for 99-years, the MOU says.

Most of the people who spoke during the Thursday Board of Aldermen meeting were opposed to the location of this massive project. Anthony Muscatto, the chairman of the Frederick Preservation Trust, is opposed to placing the hotel and conference center this location. He was unhappy  that the Historic Preservation Commission cleared the way for the demolition of the Bierly Tannery. “The city has shirked on its own commitment to ensure preservation of historic and archaeological resources by advocating allowing for the demolition of cultural and historic resources deemed not just to be significant, but even the higher standard of unusual importance,” he said. .

Jane Weir of Middletown, an opponent of this size hotel in the historic district, said a lot of new documents were released to the public a few hours before the meeting. “I object to this coming up as a change so late in the game. For you to vote on it today doesn’t seem appropriate at all. The public hasn’t had a chance to look at it yet,” she said.

The discussion, public testimony and word-smithing of the MOU took almost three hours  Before taking a vote, Alderman Ben MacShane noted it was a long process to get to voting on the MOU. He says he has spoken with opponents of the project who harbor “suspicions of something improper, somewhat in cahoots; something was behind smoke and mirrors,” he said. “I hope that some of those residents understand that I’ve been available for those concerns, and I’ve not come to find anything of that nature,” he said.

His colleague, Alderman Derek Shackelford,said there is a perception in the city that the rich get richer, and other segments of the population get behind. He said he understands the responsibility of voting on this project. “But at the same, I understand tomorrow that there are going to folks on the margin, folks who may not step foot in that hotel, folks who may not go on that side of town, are going to be asking the question of simply saying ‘where’s mine,'” he said.


By Kevin McManus