Time to halt government funding for ridiculous project
Your editorial published Feb. 4 proclaimed the city’s endless downtown hotel project to be “in a symbiotic relationship” with the historic district. Gawd!
Consider: 1. It’s a lousy site for such large project, and its lack of street frontage has prevented the architects from designing workable access for such basics as parking, deliveries and trash collection.
2. The hotel as specified “full service” by the city’s Hotel Advisory Committee makes no sense downtown with an established cluster of restaurants, bars, etc., especially if an aim of the project is to support these with extra business.
3. Total project costs at $80 million or more are insane given that the city’s financial consultant MuniCap has estimated that the value of the hotel complex will be in the range of $25 million to $33 million.
4. The selection of the site and the developer was blatantly corrupt, the winning proposal being in weeks before the fake RFP was issued and the scoring biased.
5. Project management is a farce with a grand opening predicted for 2014 back in 2010, being touted as three or four years away for eight years now and still no viable plans in sight, let alone construction.
6. The site is of historic and archaeological importance, so further damage to our history is inevitable here as well as difficult compromises, delays and expenditures.
7. The project scope and costs have changed drastically since the city-Plamondon MoU was signed at the end of 2015 so the project deal with the developer is now shrouded in mystery and confusion.
8. City sponsorship of a downtown hotel is not only unnecessary (the Visitation proposal) but wasteful and destructive, deterring a variety of simpler, economical and organically developed lodgings more likely to succeed than the politicians’ behemoth “upscale” Marriott. What we need downtown is a variety of modest-sized distinctive and interesting lodging places catering to a variety of visitor tastes and price points that can be built without all this political drama and financial complexity by each project standing on its own feet financially.
Gov. Larry Hogan and the Frederick County delegation to Annapolis are correct to cite the disastrous record of government- sponsored hotels. It’s time to call a halt to all government funding for this ill-conceived, ill-managed and ridiculous project. The downtown hotel boondoggle deserves no state, no county and no city money. And please spare us your “symbiotic relationships.”