"What sets them apart is Morty Macks," said Martin K.P. Hill, who founded a competing homebuilding company in the 1970s.
In an email, prominent Baltimore developer David Cordish called the Fidlers "quality people."
Genine Fidler — described as a "true Baltimore girl" by a longtime family friend — graduated from the Park School in Brooklandville in 1973. She met Josh Fidler at Brown University, where both graduated in 1977, and went on to earn law degrees at New York University.
Josh Fidler was diagnosed with a brain tumor seven years ago that was treated by Johns Hopkins doctors, according to a biography posted on the hospital's website. He now sits on Hopkins' Neurosurgery Advisory Board. A spokeswoman for the department did not respond to a request for comment.
Chesapeake Realty has overseen dozens of residential and retail projects in the region, including the Honeygo Village Center, a mixed-use development in Baltimore County. The company announced last year that it was starting work on five new apartment complexes in the Mid-Atlantic region at a cost of $186.5 million, including a 193-unit apartment building and parking garage in South Baltimore.
Some of the company's projects have sparked controversy. Chesapeake Realty is battling environmentalists over a proposed 156-home development adjacent to Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, for instance. Opponents say the project would violate the state's Forest Conservation Act because it calls for felling trees that are considered a high priority for conservation.
David Prosten of the Sierra Club's Anne Arundel County chapter said the company has made only minimal efforts to compromise. The Annapolis Board of Appeals is reviewing the project.
"It's been a struggle with these folks," said Prosten, who said the community has engaged with Fidler's attorneys, not Josh Fidler directly. "The developer is basically sticking to his guns."
An attorney for Chesapeake Realty, Stanley S. Fine, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
But other community groups have a more positive impression. When the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association raised concerns about limited parking around the company's project at 1901 S. Charles St., the developer quickly decided to require prospective tenants to purchase a spot in the building's parking garage, said the association's president, Amy Mutch.
Chesapeake has been engaged with the community, Mutch said, regularly attending its meetings.
Despite their work in the region, the Fidlers are not big contributors to local and state candidates. Together, the two have given about $14,000 to Maryland campaigns since the beginning of the 2006 state election cycle, including to Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, both Democrats.
Like many developers, Chesapeake has relied on construction loans that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which allows the company to receive lower interest rates. Chesapeake has two projects under way that have received the support and has been associated with at least 10 others, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"They do quality work," said Kevin McAndrews, president of Baltimore-based Atapco Properties. "That's why we're in a business with them."