COMMENT FOR ROCKY MACINTOSH BLOG: Rocky: of course it would be nice to see the old Frederick News Post site developed, just as it would be nice to see the Carmack Jay site and lots of other ugly unused sites all around the downtown also. But the citizens of this city will not abide all these sites being granted great gobs of public money to pay for these developments. Each of them must stand on its own feet financially.
The City should be asking: what are we doing to keep these sites from being developed? Are taxes too high? Are regulations too onerous? Are the zonings too restrictive? Does our historic preservation regulation need to be rethought? Are our road connections (270) with patrons down south inadequate to handle the traffic? Are there soil contamination problems that can be remediated?
As for the notion that the proposed hotel/conference center will generate $26 million of extra spending, 280 jobs and nearly $12 million new payrolls, those numbers are all ridiculous. They assume high occupancy ratios, huge spending (over $300/day) by patrons, and they overlook the inevitable offsetting reductions in business at establishments without taxpayer backing. It is as if Rocky’s bonanza of spending at the new downtown hotel/conference center will come from outer space. Personal and corporate and government budgets are limited and if patrons do spend their money at the downtown hotel complex that is money they won’t be spending elsewhere.
Lancaster PA is a similar sized and located city to Frederick. Its downtown hotel conference center is a lesson to us. Opened in 2010 with all the same hype that boosters of the Frederick complex gin up its hotel has done OK on its own as a private investment but the publicly supported conference center bleeds $9 million in annual losses. Neither has “unlocked the potential” or acted as a “catalyst” to development of nearby areas of the downtown of historic Lancaster, as the hucksterish boosters predict of our project.
Peter Samuel, Frederick 2016.02.13