They’re in the grip of an absurd theory of miracle cure for patchy development

Frederick is run by a bunch of officials and business lobbyists in the grip of an absurd theory. The hotel project they believe is a miracle cure for the City’s patchy downtown development. Wednesday’s joint media statement says it will produce “incredible economic benefits” and will represent a “cornerstone” of a revitalized downtown. Mayor McClement is “thrilled” by promises of state money for the hotel and calls it a “game changer.” County exec Jan Gardner says it will lead us to “economic prosperity” as well as the “transformation” of the the linear park. Chamber of Commerce president Elizabeth Cromwell too thinks it will be “a transformative and game-changing enhancement.” Kara Norman of the Downtown Partnership calls her colleagues “an amazing team” and she also said the hotel will have a “transformative impact” citing 50,000 hotel room-nights and $26 million of spending each year. A footnote cites 280 jobs and $1.5m of extra state taxes.

They don’t tell you where all this wealth is supposed to come from. Suddenly because there’s a new hotel downtown $26m of new spending is going to show up? That’s supposed to be $16m of direct spending and $10m of follow-on spending that trickles down from the recipients of the direct spending. At 50,000 room-nights that $16m/year is $320/room-night direct spending. Assume half or $8m comes from new visitors to Frederick, and the other half moves visitors out of hotels off the interstates to downtown then to get $16m of new direct spending for Frederick you have to project each new visitor will spend $640/night here. Those numbers are “absurd” a description by professor Heywood Sanders the country’s leading academic specialist.

Comment posted to Frederick News-Post.

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