The Frederick Board of Aldermen on Thursday took a major step toward the addition of a hotel and conference center to the city’s historic downtown by hiring a consultant to help make it happen.
All five members of the board voted during a public hearing to approve the hiring of Jones Lang LaSalle, a national commercial real estate firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore to shepherd the city through the process of selecting a site for the downtown hotel.
The hotel is planned to have about 200 rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space.
The consulting firm will be paid $157,000 to provide advice, analysis and other information to the downtown advisory committee, which would be responsible for selecting a site, a development team and financing for the project, according to documents provided to the aldermen.
The Downtown Frederick Hotel Advisory Committee and Richard Griffin, the city Director of Economic Development, met with the aldermen on Feb. 6 to recommend Jones Lang LaSalle, one of nine groups that bid on the project. The firm’s cost was in the middle of bids. Information about the other bidders was not immediately available.
“They’ve done a number of projects in the Washington, D.C., area,” Griffin said. “We were very comfortable with their team.”
The hotel project has been in the works since 2010, when the city conducted a demand analysis to determine if the city needed such a downtown project.
That study, which was updated in 2012, found there was a need for a hotel and large meeting space to serve the local business community.
The study, which is published on the city’s website, cites the area’s population growth over the last 20 years, its lack of meeting space available to businesses and hotel rooms for tourism. It estimates that a hotel would bring in about $16.5 million per year, as well as additional spending in Frederick’s restaurants and shops.
Alderman Carol Krimm (D), as well as several aldermen and Mayor Randy McClement (R), reiterated that the city government is not building a hotel, but rather helping to find a site and recruit a private company to develop it.
She said the city was taking an active role in that part of the process because of response from the business community.
“We are the facilitator,” Krimm said. “This has come from the major employer group of the chamber of commerce; there have been feasibility studies done. There’s evidence that shows we’re losing revenue because we don’t have this meeting space available.”
Previous estimates for the project have pegged the cost of building the hotel at about $45 million. In July, city officials presented six potential sites for the hotel, including: 186 E. South St., 421 E. Patrick St., 107 E. South St., 100 S. East St. 200 E. Patrick St. and 201 E. Patrick St.
Funding for the city’s portion of the project comes from a $250,000 state bond bill approved by the Maryland House of Delegates. The city matched those funds with $250,000 from its capital improvement budget.
The city hopes to find a private company to begin construction of the hotel by December 2015, according to documents.