May 10--Standing on the Iron Bridge over Carroll Creek, one can see both potential locations for a downtown hotel and conference center in Frederick.
Facing west, it could be a Marriott hotel on the north side of the creek, on the old site of The Frederick News-Post on East Patrick Street.
Or to the east, it could be next to the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center on the south side of the creek, on the Galleria property owned by Wormald Cos. on East Street.
Or it could be neither.
The city of Frederick received two proposals by its deadline Friday from developers that want to partner with the city for the project, said Richard Griffin, the city's economic development director.
Plamondon Hospitality Partners, in conjunction with Peter Fillat Architects and Project Development Services Inc., has a plan for the old News-Post site. The proposal is for a 207-room full-service hotel with 21,165 square feet of meeting space.
The Wormald Cos., in conjunction with BPM Partners, have a proposal for the Galleria property. Their plan is for a 225-room full-service hotel with 22,000 square feet of meeting space.
The city's hope was that it would get many proposals, Griffin said.
"We were delighted we got the two we got," he said.
The city will not publicly release any other details until a city committee reviews the proposals, interviews the companies and brings a recommendation to the mayor and board in June or early this summer, Griffin said.
The city issued the request in February after realizing a need for a full-service downtown hotel and conference center to serve residents, businesses, tourism and economic development. The city also realized, after a study, that any developer would need help to make the project profitable.
The city identified four sites that would be suitable for the hotel and asked developers to partner with landowners for the proposals. The properties included the 2.6-acre News-Post site at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St., the 1.7-acre Galleria site, the 2.68-acre U.S. Postal Service site on East Patrick Street and a 1.67-acre site on East Patrick Street owned by Douglas Development Corp.
The News-Post site, owned by Randall Family LLC, has been on the market since the company moved its operations in 2008 to Ballenger Center Drive. In July, the state assessed the 200 address, listed at 41,127 square feet, at $1.3 million. In January, the state assessed the 212 address, listed at 0.9 acres, at $732,400.
Plamondon is a well-established hotel company that has the full support of Marriott for the proposal, said Ted Gregory, chief financial officer of Randall Family LLC.
This would be a flagship project for Marriott, building a full-service hotel in the downtown of a small city, and they have thrown their full support behind the project, Gregory said.
Plamondon's plan is to build onto the original main building on the site, which used to be a railroad building, Gregory said.
"Any proposal from Plamondon would be very thorough, very complete and very supported by Marriott," he said.
The Wormald Cos. was planning about five years ago to build residential condominiums, retail space and 550 parking spaces on the Galleria property. The company was reconsidering its plan as early as 2010, around the time the city began eyeing the site for a hotel, according to a city document.
In January, the state assessed the Galleria property, at 107 S. East St., at $974,700.
Representatives from Wormald Cos. did not return call or emails for comment Friday.
The city will provide the developer it selects with funding for some of the public aspects of the project, which could include roads, parking and meeting space, Griffin said. The funding can come from the city, tax increment financing, the county hotel tax and grants.
So far, the city has a total of $850,000 lined up for the first phase of the project, including $350,000 in Smart Growth Impact Funds from the state, a $250,000 matching bond bill from the Maryland General Assembly and $250,000 from the city's Capital Improvements Program.
To select the city's partner, the Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee will consider the proposals using a 100-point scoring system based on the capacity of the development team, the development scheme, the financial structure, and the work plan and project schedule.
If the mayor and board approve a site, the city will negotiate with the developer, and then begin on a design and planning approval process, which would take about a year. The city hopes construction can begin in 2015, Griffin said.
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