The newly formed board of the Baltimore Development Corp. is expected to vote this morning to name former city housing director M. J. "Jay" Brodie as president of the city agency charged with generating new jobs, sources say.
If the 11-member board approves Mr. Brodie, the recommendation will be forwarded to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke Monday for final approval. Mr. Brodie is a senior vice president at RTKL Associates Inc. and head of the architectural firm's Washington office.
"If true, it's exciting news for the city," said Robert C. Embry, president of the Abell Foundation, a local philanthropic group, and Mr. Brodie's former boss at the city's Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
"Jay is honest, hard-working, smart, he knows and loves the city. He's also been to other cities, so he has a wealth of information about what they're doing."
The nomination of Mr. Brodie, the leading candidate among four finalists, marks the latest in a series of steps aimed at reinvigorating BDC, which has been assailed by business leaders for a lack of responsiveness and the loss of city jobs.
In early October, Mr. Schmoke fulfilled a campaign pledge to focus more on economic development by appointing Roger C. Lipitz, the former chairman of Meridian Healthcare Inc., to chair a revamped, private sector board of directors.
The new board includes a cross-section of local business leaders from areas as diverse as banking, real estate development, finance, law and accounting.
BDC came under fire a year ago after reports in The Sun raised questions about its performance. The city had lost more than 60,000 jobs over five years, and many businesses complained that BDC was ineffective. A mayoral task force also criticized the agency in July.
Its president of three years, Honora M. Freeman, was transferred to another City Hall job July 1.
Mr. Brodie, who did not return several telephone calls yesterday, was selected because he has both public- and private-sector experience, sources said.
"Each of the candidates has an extensive background in development or has worked in government in the city," Mr. Lipitz said earlier this week. He declined to comment yesterday.
Mr. Lipitz said he received more than 40 applications for the top BDC post and interviewed 15 candidates before paring the list to four serious contenders.
From 1977 to 1984, Mr. Brodie led HCD before becoming the executive director of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., a public-private partnership charged with redeveloping a 21-block area between the White House and the Capitol.
While with Pennsylvania Avenue Development, Mr. Brodie oversaw the development of the massive Federal Triangle project, which was beset with cost overruns that had increased its projected cost from roughly $200 million to $800 million.
He left that post in July 1993 to join RTKL, the city's largest architectural firm, where he has focused on urban planning issues.
Despite the extensive resume, Mr. Brodie will have to overcome criticism from some quarters that suggests he lacks a solid relationship with local businesses and the energy required to revamp the agency.
"I don't think Jay has a great rapport with the business community, which frankly is critical right now," said a businessman who once worked for the city. He asked that he not be identified.
The BDC presidency would be the second recent attempt to involve Mr. Brodie in the city's economic development efforts.
Five years ago, Mr. Schmoke approached Mr. Brodie about heading Center City-Inner Harbor Development Inc., a group charged with spearheading downtown development projects.
Mr. Brodie declined that position, however, citing the need to continue with Pennsylvania Avenue Development, sources said.
The mayor in 1991 merged Center City-Inner Harbor Development with the Baltimore Economic Development Corp. to form BDC.