Sir: The city’s downtown hotel project is a shambles. Bills HB 1474 and SB 1038 to enable the Maryland Stadium Authority to adopt the hotel project in Frederick have been shelved for the 2016 session of the General Assembly. Twenty-million dollars of state money that was so confidently touted a month ago is not in sight. That Frederick County delegates were 5-3 against the project was especially telling.
The shelved bills had one great virtue. They gave the lie to repeated claims by city officials that Frederick taxpayers are not on the hook for any losses incurred at the hotel’s conference center. Those bills made clear in black and white that the state will require a contractual undertaking by the city to accept sole responsibility for conference center costs, including any losses. This is a complete contradiction of what officials told the mayor and Board of Aldermen when asked to endorse the project on Dec. 3.
There have been three consultant studies on this project as a single hotel and conference center complex with integrated operations and accounts, but nothing by way of dollar projections on the conference center separately. Yet that missing piece is precisely what is of most interest to the lenders and to taxpayers, since it is the conference center portion we are being asked to underwrite. How could project promoters not see that?
And what’s its rationale as a public project? Because an “upscale” hotel is essential for big business here to retain and attract top quality staff and because they desperately need conference facilities. Legislators heard this tired narrative once again and were unconvinced.
Peter Samuel, Frederick