Without Brodie, BDC projects, tax incentives move forward

For the first time in 16 years, the directors of the Baltimore Development Corp. met Thursday without M.J. "Jay" Brodie at the helm of the city's influential, quasi-public economic development arm.

The BDC's acting president, Kimberly A. Clark, who has expressed interest in the open top job, briefed board members on several of the corporation's initiatives:

•An expanded special tax zone for Under Armour Inc., a move that would allow the sports apparel company to expand its Locust Point headquarters, is to go before the City Council for a vote Sept. 10.

•The BDC has an Aug. 30 deadline to receive bids on the long-planned, $80 million Hyatt at City Center project.

•Demolition is complete for a planned 68,000-square-foot ShopRite supermarket in Howard Park.

Clark said that the agency was currently understaffed and that employees have been able to meet with only 181 businesses this year to discuss expansion opportunities, a figure she called "a little bit lower as far as our goal is concerned."

The board also approved an application for $2.9 million in state grants for Baltimore neighborhoods deemed "sustainable communities," including a $2 million request for streetscaping in the Fells Point area.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said last week that she wanted the BDC to be restructured so it can concentrate more on small businesses.

Of the selection of a chief to replace Brodie, the mayor said: "We're focused on getting it right, not getting it done fast. There's so much work that needs to be done with respect to restructuring the BDC, expanding the focus to small businesses, and really working on our strategy with anchor institutions that are driving Baltimore's economy."

The BDC is planning a retirement party for Brodie on Sept. 18.

The BDC board chairman, Arnold Williams, said Thursday that he believed Brodie, 75, retired before the meeting out of modesty — hoping to avoid the "accolades" that board members would heap on him.

Brodie started at the BDC in 1996 under then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. He also led the city's housing department, first as deputy commissioner and then as commissioner, from 1969 to 1984.

City officials credit Brodie with overseeing the Harbor East boom of the past decade and with bringing $3.2 billion in capital investment into the city during his tenure as BDC president.

As Rawlings-Blake searches for a replacement for Brodie, Clark said she was in frequent contact with the mayor's office.

"We're working with the mayor to move her economic development policies forward," Clark said.



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