Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development’s communications director Sara Luell says that she will pass on emails of opposition to further state grants for the Downtown Hotel boondoggle. Her email:
Recall that the City is applying for $1 million more of Strategic Demolition (or as the city DED prefers to name them Smart Growth funds) to use to purchase the Fred News Post land which will be leased back to Plamondon at a small fraction of normal commercial terms — $85k/yr ground rent versus $300k, $400k, $500k which is the normal ground rent deal.
The proposal is also a boondoggle because the request for proposals stated that no City land would be provided to a developer. It is a boondoggle again because it moves liability for hazmat cleanup to City taxpayers, and because it takes the property off the City and County tax books. Plamondon despite needing City services such as police, street maintenance, trash collection etc etc for the facility will not be paying for these if the land is City owned. DHCD is being asked to facilitate a big gift to the chosen developer that will give him exemption from City and County property taxes.
DHCD is being asked to grant the chosen developer a big concession that was not offered to his competitor Wormald.
Worst DHCD is being asked to endorse a bid rigged project that is a disgrace to City government and which for many years now of talk, talk and talk has deterred honest investors from investing in viable lodging businesses downtown. We need the state to back off from a project that faces substantial local opposition, and which has not yet received permits from key City agencies. The cost blow-out of the project from $45m three years ago to $84m now needs mention along with the worse blow out in upfront public subsidy from $11m to $31m. 2016.07.22