City is not delivering us the kind of hotel we need in downtown Frederick
1. We all want hotels downtown that fit, hotels that serve visitors and friends, but the City is not delivering.
2. Since 2009 the City has been discouraging entrepreneurial investor-financed hotels to protect the proposed oversized, over-complex monopoly for a developer selected by the City.
3. The City hotel project has been grossly mismanaged, and after seven years it still has no financing plan, no design submitted for City approvals, no parking plan, no traffic studies, no hazardous materials study, no historic preservation review. Even the feasibility studies are out of date.
4. City figures show the cost of the project has nearly doubled since 2013 from $45m to $84m in 2016 but a state consultant, who was paid over $60,000 to study the proposed building, estimates the cost will be much higher.
5. Upfront taxpayer support for the City project has almost trebled according to City figures from $11m to $31m but some say it will blow out to $50m.
6. The City advisory committee comprised of amateurs selected an unsuitable site for such a large hotel complex and after seven years it is negotiating to buy more land. It should be downsizing the hotel. Or better: dumping the project.
7. The chosen site contains two historically significant buildings. The project requires complete removal of the Birely Tannery building, the last remaining legacy of the leading industry in Frederick in the 19th century.
8. Having hosted 170 years of industrial tanning, trolley operations, printing and poultry processing the site needs investigation for possible hazardous residues.
9. Approximately the size of a Walmart and six storeys high the proposed building is quite out of scale with its immediate surrounds, disqualifying it under the guidelines of the historic district.
10. Access for visitors is difficult requiring three left turns in narrow city streets.
11. Hotel specialists say the City concept of an exclusively upscale, high-priced and full service hotel of 200 rooms is wrong and will fail.
12. Better would be several smaller specialist hotels catering to different tastes and price points/budgets, since ‘full service’ or in-house restaurants, bars, coffee shops, pool, spa etc are redundant in a downtown already well-served with such facilities nearby.
13. Conference centers are overbuilt all around the country and most lose money, and should be financed by local employers if they see a need.
14. The City project has been expecting $18m of state support, $7m from the City and $6m from the county.
15. Maryland Stadium Authority and Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) both recently considered the City’s hotel proposal, were not impressed, and both boards of directors decided unanimously not to get involved.
16. Without those state funds City and County taxpayers will have to make up the difference unless the project is drastically scaled back. Or killed.
17. Elected officials need to face reality: the City sponsored Hotel is an ill-considered, mismanaged disaster which far from building the lodging facilities we need downtown is the major obstruction to such development. Who will invest or lend with a competitor nearby slated to get $31m in taxpayer subsidies?
18. Annapolis is the model we should emulate, with City government staying out of sponsoring hotels, and entrepreneurs building all seven in the historic downtown without subsidy and each within a two to three year time frame.