Feb. 2—The Frederick County Council on Tuesday voted in favor of helping the city of Frederick purchase land for a downtown hotel and conference center, a step forward for the project after a two-year, pandemic-induced delay.
Proponents of the development have said the Marriott-branded hotel would create jobs, increase property values and bring business to the Carroll Creek area and Frederick city.
“I’ve said it before but I will say it again, this is a game changer for Frederick as far as economic development,” Council President MC Keegan-Ayer (D) said during the council’s meeting.
The county will send $2.5 million to the city for purchase of the property where the hotel will be built, located at the former site of The Frederick News-Post on East Patrick Street. The county’s contribution will be nearly 70 percent of the estimated $3.7 million needed to buy the property, and the city will cover the rest.
Purchasing the property from Randall Family, LLC. — which formerly owned The News-Post — will give the city some control over development along Carroll Creek as businesses expand and move to the city, said Rick Harcum, chief administrative officer for the county.
The city requested the county contribute to purchasing the property because the county will share in the tax revenues the development is expected to bring in. What’s more, Harcum estimated the county would recoup its $2.5 million contribution within three to four years of construction being completed.
It’s necessary for the city to be in possession of the county’s contribution so the project developer, Plamondon Hospitality Partners, can move forward on its end of the deal, said Lori Depies, chief financial officer for the county.
Harcum said the city will hold the county’s money until the deal is finalized. If it falls through, the city will refund the county its total contribution, with interest.
“The worst case scenario is that we get all of our money back, with interest, if it doesn’t work out,” said Councilman Kai Hagen (D), one of five council members who voted favorably.
Joining Hagen were Keegan-Ayer, Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D), Councilman Jerry Donald (D) and Council Vice President Michael Blue, the lone Republican in favor.
The two remaining Republicans, Steve McKay and Phil Dacey, argued that Plamondon, rather than the county, should pay the $2.5 million contribution, especially considering the developer will already be covering the $70 million needed for financing, constructing and operating the hotel and meeting space .
Once the county and the city sign off on their agreement, Plamondon has until Dec. 31, 2023, to buy the property and begin construction, according to planning documents.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan