Project Spotlight - Downtown Hotel & Conference Center

Frederick needs a downtown hotel and conference center. So say the largest employers in the community along with the city, county, chamber, tourism council, and downtown partnership - forming a joint team to make it happen. Frederick has some terrific hotels, but is underserved in terms of a downtown up-scale flagship facility which can host business and family functions locally. Fredericktonians are often forced to look to other communities to host larger conferences and events.

The hotel team – a public-private partnership – has funded a feasibility study which strengthens the case for such a facility. It confirmed that Frederick has sufficient demand for a 200 room, full-service hotel with guest amenities including a large ball-room and break-out meeting space which can handle events of 600 or more people. The study also confirmed that Downtown Frederick was the right location, providing a combination of unique amenities not found together in one place elsewhere in the community.

Downtown Frederick, the largest contiguous historic district in Maryland, is centrally located in the county and is easily accessible from the highways. It is home to more than 600 businesses, 5,000 employees, and several thousand residents. For a number of years it has been recovering from devastating losses due to flood, business flight, and neglect. The result is an walkable, award-winning downtown which has over 200 restaurants and retail businesses, is served by public transportation, has stunning architecture, and is the hub of commerce, government, churches, tourism, arts, entertainment, and museums.

Despite its successes, the Downtown economy is fragile and adding a hotel conference center will help cement its recovery. Other communities like Lancaster, PA, Greenville, SC, Charlottesville, VA, and Asheville, NC have effectively used hotel conference facilities to anchor their downtowns. It is a time-proven strategy to use a demand generator like a hotel to provide a critical need for the community while strengthen revitalization efforts as well.

Building a downtown hotel and conference center is challenging business. Due to the high cost and inherent risk such facilities are rarely undertaken by hotel developers alone. Most such facilities are accomplished through a public-private partnership. Limited public sector participation can reduce the risk enough to encourage private sector investment. It is our hope that together with the business and developer communities, Frederick can assemble the resources needed to bring this project to fruition by our 2014 goal.

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement has made this a central project his administration to move forward and has appointed long-time Frederick businessman Earl Robbins, Jr. to spearhead the project. A former school board, chamber, and united way chairman, Mr. Robbins is no stranger to large complex projects and knows his way around the community and Annapolis. He has been quoted as saying that he has agreed to head this critical project because he believes it will improve quality of life and strengthen the business community. Frederick needs and deserves a place downtown to host our over-night visitors, induce new events and conferences, and support our local businesses.