Michael Vincent Hodge, a partner at Ballard Spahr who previously served as director of the District of Columbia's revenue bond program, died Sept. 19, of cancer. He was 62.
A consummate behind-the-scenes operator, Mr. Hodge helped to finance hundreds of projects during a 13-year period in which he oversaw the district's industrial development bond program, through which the city sells tax-exempt bonds on behalf of borrowers that would otherwise not have access to the municipal market. Initially, he ran the program single-handedly.
Under Mr. Hodge's leadership, which began in late 1993, the IDB program grew from just one $72.7 million deal in fiscal 1994 for Georgetown University to nearly 30 deals in fiscal 1999, when the city issued $895.4 million of revenue bonds for several issuers. Between fiscal years 2004 and 2007, when Mr. Hodge left district government, the program averaged about $500 million in issuance.
In a 2007 interview with The Bond Buyer, Mr. Hodge said he was most proud of the Newseum, a $500 million, bond-financed interactive journalism museum on a prime lot of land along the Pennsylvania Avenue presidential inauguration parade route.
Mr. Hodge said the vast number of projects for which the city issued IDBs reflected years of work to ramp up the program by eliminating several obstacles to its success, including expensive annual fees and a lengthy approval process. Congressional action was also necessary to amend the city's home rule charter to expand the permitted uses of revenue bonds, to allow for tax increment financing and the use of payments in lieu of taxes. In addition, Congress approved separate legislation that designated the district an enterprise zone and authorized EZ bond financing for up to $15 million of tax-exempt bonds per borrower.
"I'm real proud of what's been accomplished," Mr. Hodge said in the interview, referring to the expansion of financing tools that the district uses to leverage economic development. "The city's on good track now to use the tools on neighborhoods that have been waiting for a long time."
He continued to focus on economic development projects after joining Ballard Spahr in 2007. His practice focused on three projects in particular - the O St. Market in Northwest Washington, the Southwest Waterfront, and the Howard University Town Center.
Mr. Hodge came to the district in the late 1970s after working several jobs in Boston, Baltimore, and New Jersey. He also served in the Army during the Vietnam War.
In the early 1980s, Mr. Hodge began working for the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency. Urged by a partner at Ballard Spahr, he worked part-time at the agency while studying at night for five years at Georgetown University Law Center, where he received his degree in 1990.
A wake is scheduled at 9 a.m. Tuesday, followed by a memorial service at 10 a.m. at Saint Augustine Roman Catholic Church, at 1419 V St. NW, Washington, D.C. After the services, Mr. Hodge will be buried at the military cemetery at Quantico, in Triangle, Va.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Georgetown Law Center, 600 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20001. The contributions will be used to fund scholarships for African-American students.