Submission to Historic Preservation Commission on consultant JLL site analysis for HPC17-490 workshop

Members of the Commission: In the materials submitted by the co-applicants in support of the case for demolition of the Birely Tannery building was a four page Memorandum on Bates Architects letterhead dated June 15, signed Jim and addressed to HPC staffer Lisa Murphy. ‘Jim’ is apparently Jim Mills and the City has told me Bates Architects were hired by Plamondon, the hotel developer to write that summary of the case for demolition.

On page 2 of the Bates memorandum there is this:

“Each of the sites was evaluated by the consultant architect OPX as part of the initial market demand study to be appropriately sized to accommodate a 200-room full-service hotel and 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of meeting space. JLL also conducted a comprehensive criterion based analysis of the sites.

“Criteria:

— Catalyst for Downtown growth and revitalization;

— Developer feedback (site preferences based onJLL interviews);

— Ease of acquisition;

— Site size (to accommodate hotel program);

— Overall developability.

“Using these criteria, the subject site was ranked the highest of the four sites that were identified (Downtown Post Office property, Old Frederick News-Post property, Douglas Development McHenry’s/Union Mills property.)”

Several comments:

1. Note the prominence given to historic preservation issues in the list of criteria in the “criterion based analysis” of sites!

2. OPX’s analysis of potential sites is contained in a section Site Analysis and Proposed

City consultant OPX site plan to keep Birely

Building Layouts pages 63 to 73 of the 2010 study ‘Market Analysis, Cash Flow Projections, and Strategic Recommendations for a Proposed Downtown Hotel and Conference Center” by Pinnacle Advisory Group and OPX downloadable from the City website at http://www.cityoffrederick.com/DocumentCenter/View/8349

I commend this to the Commission because it analyses six sites and has a Site Attribute Comparison chart on page 63. Also it shows three hotel/conference center layouts for the Frederick News-Post site (pages 67, 68 & 69) the last of the three allowing for preservation of the Birely Tannery building. It does this by building a conference center and parking in a north-south structure fronting Patrick St, parallel to and between the Terminal Building and the Eagles (where two parallel, 2-way driveways are proposed by Fillat Architects.)

The OPX analysis of 2010 does NOT rate the Frederick News-Post site the highest as suggested by the Bates Architecture memorandum. That’s wrong. It states: “After considering the pros and cons of each site, we believe that Sites U,  V, and W (U=USPS, V=FNP, W=Galleria) are more desirable for development than Sites X, Y, and Z. (X=MARC, Y=Con Ed, Z=Brickworks).” (my site labels in parentheses)

3. JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle of Chicago) had a $335,000 hotel consulting contract with

Site B was chosen, Site C was the losing bid

the City in 2013/2014 part of which was for site analysis.  That should be of interest to the Commission especially as it is cited on behalf of the application-to-demolish as having ranked the chosen site “highest” of four sites — X, Y and Z in the OPX notation having been dumped, and the Douglas Development/Union Mills site having been added to the retained U, V, and W.

In June (6/27) after I read the Bates memorandum citing the JLL site analysis I applied to the City for release of the JLL material under the state Public Information Act. Just days ago (Aug 14) the City Attorney responded (letter dated 8/9) with a refusal, invoking a ‘deliberative process’ privilege that apparently does not apply to Jim of Bates Architects employed by the hotel developer.

I can only speculate why the City would want to withhold a consultant report it says supports its choice of hotel site. In gaining access to this JLL report the Historic Preservation Commission may have more heft than me.

Good luck.

Peter Samuel  2017-08-17

NOTE: the next HPC Workshop on the hotel project is now scheduled as a special single item workshop Thursday August 31 at 6pm in the City Hall hearing Room. It was previously scheduled for a regular hearing night August 24, and we previously wrote that. This is as welcome change for people following this project because rather than have to wait through a dozen hearings on other items we can go straight to the topic at 6pm.

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