Plans for a hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick are expected to come before the city in the fall, the next step in the lengthy process between the city and a local hospitality company.
Plans for the project are expected to come before the city’s Planning Commission by October or November, while the city and Plamondon Hospitality Partners work to iron out legal details of the deal.
The planned 200-room Marriott-branded hotel on the former site of the Frederick News-Post along East Patrick Street is also expected to include 22,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Over the next 60 to 90 days, the city will prepare leases and other legal agreements to oversee funding for the project, so they can come before the mayor and aldermen at the proper time, Frederick’s Director of Economic Development Richard Griffin said recently.
Pete Plamondon Jr., co-president of Plamondon Hospitality Partners, said Monday that it could take as long as 120 days, although he was reluctant to predict a specific timeline for bringing plans to the city.
The process for getting site plan approval and working out legal agreements with the city is continuing, he said.
Once a formal site plan has been submitted and goes through the initial technical review by the city staff, it will go to a workshop with the Planning Commission, followed by a hearing, Gabrielle Collard, the manager of current planning for the city, wrote in an email.
While the city will control the property, the hotel and conference center would be built with private funds on a long-term lease with Plamondon Hospitality Partners.
In February, the city accepted more than $2.5 million from Frederick County toward buying land along Carroll Creek to build a parking complex for the planned conference center. The city will pay another $1.18 million for the deal.
The February agreement allowed the county money to be transferred to the city. The city’s aldermen will still have to approve spending it at a later time.
The city would have to return the money with interest if it hasn’t bought the land by the fourth anniversary of the date that the deal is executed, or if no building permits for the project have been issued within six years of when the deal is completed.
The county would get a prorated share of the proceeds if the city buys the property, then sells it.
Even with the city and county money and the start of construction several years away, the rising cost of construction products and other factors continue to make the project “a very expensive lift,” Plamondon said.
But he said he’s encouraged by the numbers he’s seen for hotel rates and other recent trends in the travel and hospitality industries.
“The travel industry is back with a vengeance,” he said.
Business travel is expected to be at 95% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023, while leisure travel in the county is tracking 3% above 2019 — the last full year before the pandemic — for the past calendar year, and 6% looking at only the past six months, said Dave Ziedelis, executive director of Visit Frederick, which promotes local tourism.
Frederick County has seen an “explosion” of leisure travel in recent months, with people exploring history, shopping and dining, not only in downtown Frederick, but in the downtown areas of the county’s other municipalities, as well, Ziedelis said.
After more than two years of uncertainty for the tourism and hospitality industries, Ziedelis said, he’s encouraged by the trend of the numbers.
“All that mix has really created quite a demand,” he said.
Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP