Development group hires former housing official

February 16, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

Michael Seipp, a former deputy commissioner of Baltimore's jTC Department of Housing and Community Development, is returning to city government as the Baltimore Development Corp.'s executive vice president in charge of real estate and physical development.

Honora Freeman, president of the corporation, said Mr. Seipp has been hired to replace Jeff Middlebrooks. Mr. Middlebrooks is leaving the agency after 12 1/2 years to head CityWorks Inc., a consulting firm established to help cities and neighborhoods develop strategies to overcome economic distress.

A Baltimore native who studied sociology at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Mr. Seipp, 41, worked for Baltimore's housing department from 1980 to 1989 -- the last five years as deputy housing commissioner.

He traveled around the country as a program director for James Rouse's Enterprise Foundation during 1990 and 1991. Since 1991, he has been director of the Community Assistance Administration in Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development.

"It's like coming home," Mr. Seipp said of the new job, which pays $72,000 a year. "The city is my real love."

The Baltimore Development Corp. oversees downtown rejuvenation and promotes economic development for the Schmoke administration.

Ms. Freeman said she contacted Mr. Seipp because she believed he would be ideal for the No. 2 job in the agency, given his familiarity with the city and state and with federal funding policies.

"We're delighted that somebody who is so bright and creative and energetic, and who knows the development process and the players so well, can join our development efforts," she said. "He's exactly right for what we need."

In his previous role with the city, Mr. Seipp worked in the neighborhoods around the downtown core. He said his familiarity with areas such as Federal Hill and Fells Point will help make him sensitive to residents' concerns about downtown development and enable him to "hit the ground running" when he begins his job April 5.

"I view downtown as part of a whole," he said. "It's important that there be a symbiotic relationship between downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods -- whether it's transportation systems or urban design or public events. If downtown is going to survive, we need healthy neighborhoods all around it."

Mr. Seipp lives in the Chinquapin Park area of Baltimore with his wife and three children.

Although he has worked in the housing and community development departments of both the city and the state, he said, "I don't consider myself 'housing' as much as 'community development' -- transportation, traffic, streets, parks, playgrounds. I've always attempted to look not just at housing, but the whole neighborhood."

Mr. Middlebrooks has been easing out of his job as executive vice president in charge of development since Jan. 15. He will continue to work as a consultant to the agency for two days a week, at least through mid-April, Ms. Freeman said.

The first project for Mr. Middlebrooks' consulting firm is a $35 million transformation of a 31-acre parcel on the Cambridge waterfront to a public attraction called Sailwinds Park.

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