“The Board of Public Works is especially concerned that the grant recipients utilize a competitive process to select their contractors.” So writes Catherine Ensor, program manager for the Capital Grants Program at the state Board of Public Works which administers state grants to the DH&CC. (SOURCE: letter to Mayor McClement dated 2016.06.10 in the package A.1)
Is this just boilerplate? Perhaps.
But what if it is meant seriously?
This project has lacked the benefit of competition from the beginning:
1. no competition in the format of the hotel because a secretive hotel advisory committee decreed that it must be 200 rooms, full service, and upscale. Nothing else would do. Hotel specialists we’ve consulted say this is quite unsuited to downtown Frederick, appealing to a narrow class of travelers, many of its facilities superfluous, very complicated to design right, and manage well.
2. competition on sites was limited to four on the eastern edge of the downtown, practically to two opposite to one another. Two of the four were already accounted for — by the USPS, by Douglas/Regent/Union Mills. Scores of other sites were ruled out by this lack of competition.
3. competition was limited further by requiring proposers to demonstrate ’site control’ — either ownership or contract to purchase. This too reduced competition.
4. you did have the pretense of competition in the procurement, a standard best-value competitive procurement process, plus a point scoring system to select the winner. It was all a sham. A complete sham. Three years ago in Oct 2013 Pete Plamondon’s proposal was in. City consultants JLL were beginning to dissect it, discuss it, there were in-house presentations… all at the same time that the RFP was being written. The RFP only went out mid-February three or four months after the Plamondon proposal was received. The token competitor Ed Wormald only got his proposal in right on the deadline in May. The timesheets of JLL show it was given cursory consideration.
As for the scoring of the two proposals by the selection committee it too was a travesty. Again this is only a fact that has emerged long after the event after constant complaints about the secrecy shrouding the process.
The scoring was horribly biased. Just two examples. Scoring on historic preservation and parking.
There were 2 points possible for parking out of 100. Wormald was located right next to the East All Saints St Parking Deck 600 spaces, heavily underutilized, the emptiest of all the City decks and due to get emptier still when/if the Board of Ed gets PD6. 300 spaces minimum are free. Wormald should have scored 2/2 based on parking.
Plamondon by contrast proposed 104 spaces, vs 300 Wormald. They scored it Plamondon 1, Wormald zero! ! Or 1, 0. I would have scored them 0.5 Plamondon, 2 Wormald.
Historic preservation was 2.5 points of 100. Plamondon needs to demolish a substantial historic building, the Birely Tannery, whereas Wormald has a completely clear site, no historic building, Plamondon got 2/2.5 and Wormald 1/2.5. Rather than 2, 1 any logical scoring would have scored them in favor of the proposer with the clear site, like 0.5, 2 again.
In those two scoring categories alone, parking and historic preservation that should have been only 1 point to Plamondon, 4 points to Wormald instead of the City score 3 points Plamondon to 1 point Wormald.
for full discussion of scoring travesty: http://frederickhotelboondoggle.us/2016/09/more-evidence-of-sham/
5. Unfair competition reduces good competition. The project seriously reduces competition by providing massive backing $31m to the one City sponsored project threatening to add 200 subsidized room spaces to the City’s existing 1,200 rooms. That adds serious risk to existing hotel investments and to prospective new ones. With the prospect of the City sponsored DH&CC behemoth on everyone’s minds the banks are much less interested in lending for private self-financing hotel projects. They hike the % downpayment and/or interest rates. NOTES PREPARED FOR MAYOR & BOARD MEETING 2016.10.20