Zollicoffer to Chair EBDI Board
Baltimore -- Former Baltimore City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. has been appointed chairman of the board of directors of East Baltimore Development Inc., the 11-year-old nonprofit in charge of the $1.8 billion redevelopment located north of Johns Hopkins University Hospital in the area known as Middle East.
Zollicoffer takes over for Douglas Nelson, the retired chairman of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has invested nearly $100 million in the project as a partner with EBDI. Other partners include the city and Hopkins.
Nelson, chairman for nearly three years, has officially resigned from the board. He said Monday he recommended Zollicoffer — a longtime member of the EBDI board who was appointed by former Mayor Sheila Dixon — as his replacement.
“I think Thurman is not only committed to but deeply experienced in strategies that result in broader participation in the economy, contracts, employment and wealth-creation opportunities,” Nelson said. “I think we are at the point where we are increasing the economic benefits to the local entrepreneurs there, and that is a crucial deliverable — and he is in the best position to deliver that as anyone I know.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appointed Zollicoffer to the post last month without fanfare.
Among his first priorities as EBDI chairman will be to jumpstart housing at the 88-acre site in conjunction with the 2014 opening of a new public charter school, Zollicoffer said.
Columbia-based Ryland Homes is negotiating to build new housing near the charter school site in the 2000 block of E. Eager St. A request for proposals for the housing construction was posted by EBDI in June 2012, but has stalled, even as the school construction has proceeded.
“We need to get some shovels in the ground and get going,” said Zollicoffer, a partner at Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP. “Now we've got to race and get some residences built. It's moving slow, but it's moving. We need to get the residential part of that kicked in gear, and we need to get it kicked into gear tomorrow.”
“We're going to be changing the fabric of the community and rebuilding it, making it stronger,” he said, of the challenges ahead. “To get new businesses started and basically start the economic engine of east Baltimore with the help of the residents.”
Zollicoffer said he had met with EBDI, Casey and Hopkins executives over the past month and now is meeting with EBDI's finance, development and security committees “trying to get a firm” understanding of the tasks that lie ahead.
The massive redevelopment was launched officially in 2002 by then-Mayor, now Gov. Martin O'Malley, for whom Zollicoffer served as city solicitor.