MEDCO’s Bob Brennan: Frederick hotel project needs to “go back to the drawing board” FNP

frednewspost2cThe Frederick News-Post (2016:11:22 15:30) reports that Bob Brennan, executive director of MEDCO said in an interview: “It’s looking right now that this (hotel) project is dead.”medco90

He is quoted by reporter Jeremy Bauer-Wolf as saying later in an interview: “What I am saying is the current structure doesn’t appear to be viable, so let’s go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get a hotel (conference) center for the city of Frederick.”

By ‘structure’ he appears to mean the structure of ownership,  financing, and operating the hotel & conference center as laid out in the City’s 5-party draft memorandum of understanding as released in September.

Del Kathy Afzali

Del Kathy Afzali

House Delegate Kathy Afzali, chair of the Frederick County delegation to Annapolis said last week the downtown hotel project is “dead.” She says state funding for the project won’t be forthcoming, a statement also made by Governor Hogan in a conversation I had with him at an MPPI anniversary event in Annapolis, October 3.

Senator Michael Hough and Delegates David Vogt, Bill Folden, and Barrie Ciliberti all oppose state funding. Senator Ron Young and delegates Karen L Young and Carol Krimm support state funding but Senator Young thinks City ownership of the project is needed to obtain it.

Mayor Randy  McClement has always been adamant that the City should NOT take ownership, and his board of aldermen have gone along with that also. County Executive Jan Gardner and County president Bud Otis are supporters of the City proposed structuring arrangements but the remaining six county councillors are split along party lines (3 Dems for, 3 Repubs against.)

Maryland Stadium Authority, seen for several years as the state’s collaborating agency on the hotel project and a major funder, decided November 7th not to be further involved in the project, its chairman Thomas Kelso saying it had changed significantly

Thomas Kelso

Thomas Kelso, MSA chair

since MSA was first brought in. The MSA board voted unanimously not to proceed with  the City’s proposed multi-party agreement. It provided no owner for the project, Kelso said, and no financing. (It actually nominated MEDCO as ‘owner’ of the conference center but MEDCO had not accepted that role.) MSA had not been “involved in site selection or other crucial decisions in which we usually participate,” Kelso added.

MSA’s capital projects chief Gary McGuigan said the sticking point was that his agency could not support public funding of a private business. MSA staff believed the City should should

Robert Brennan

Robert Brennan, MEDCO

accept the responsibility for ownership of the conference center which entails responsibility for carrying any operating losses.  (Ocean City devotes most of its hotel tax revenue to carrying the losses of its conference center. Montgomery County also accepted ownership of its conference center in White Flint [aka Bethesda North,] although revenue there more or less covers its operational costs.)

McGuigan also mentioned the procurement process in

Gary McGuigan

Gary McGuigan, MSA

Frederick in which Plamondon was selected without MSA oversight as a problem.

Since MSA’s withdrawal from the project Mayor McClement has only said the effort to advance the project — now seven years in the making — will continue, but that “adjustment” will be needed.

By all accounts the developer and the City Department of Economic Development are continuing efforts to gain clearance from the Maryland Historical Trust for demolition of the Birely Tannery building on the proposed site. They also need the permission of the City’s Historic Preservation Commission. Also needed is a car-parking plan and proposals for rearranging traffic in East Patrick Street where the developer has said two-way traffic is needed on a section that is currently west-bound only.

The chosen site is too small for the City-specified hotel complex and there have been negotiations over purchase of the adjacent Eagles Club property. That might lead to changes in the layout, and cost of the hotel complex.

Frederick News-Post report:


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