There isn’t a title on Todd E. Burbage’s business card. He doesn’t want one.
In the public, he’s most often referred to as a “developer,” but saying the word out loud makes him cringe slightly, as if it carries unfavorable connotations. And within his own Blue Water Development family, the focus is more on his character than his role — he’s been described as innovative, energetic, diligent, community-minded. Job description aside, one thing everyone agrees on is, Todd Burbage is passionate. Whether it’s a multi-million dollar commercial development project, or a local philanthropic endeavor, his level of energy, attachment and dedication is intense and consistent.
Burbage cannot be pigeonholed as a developer, or simply as a builder of commercial and residential properties, because he does so much more — expanding his portfolio almost weekly, along the Eastern Shore and beyond, while most follow a more gradual path.
The youngest son of Jack Burbage, the respected founder of Blue Water, Todd has experienced all facets of real estate development. “You don’t know anything until you’ve done the other person’s job,” Jack has said, and Todd took that to heart.
“The very first thing I ever built, I put hay in a wastewater treatment facility.” From general labor at the Mystic Harbour sewer plant just after his graduation from Salisbury University, to operating equipment and building homes, Burbage worked his way up to a sales position at his father’s company, where he assisted in the development of three additional subdivisions (Deer Point, Ocean Reef and Whispering Woods), thus playing an integral part in the growth of West Ocean City.
The development company has also experienced incredible growth, as Burbage now holds an ownership stake. Included in Blue Water Development’s exemplary portfolio are three hotels (Bethany Beach Ocean Suites in Delaware, The Commander Hotel in Maryland, and Fairfield Inn & Suites Chincoteague in Virginia), three campgrounds (Sunset Beach Resort and Chincoteague Island KOA in Virginia and The Resort at Massey’s Landing in Delaware), and a sundry of other ventures.
“Virtually, everything we have is waterfront. If it’s not waterfront, it’s not part of our portfolio, for the most part. That’s sort of a policy that we’ve always had,” Burbage says. Another company policy: Reputation, pride and quality come first in every project. “We feel like, if you put all those first, the economic side will come. We try to use the best quality building materials, try to hire the best sales agents, we try to do the best we can at all the things we do. And I think it shows.”
To that end, Burbage is also very adamant about investing in the communities where Blue Water Development initiates projects. Hiring local contractors, using local materials, promoting local businesses — it’s all part of a community investment that works for everyone involved.
“I hope people will see we’re good stewards and good citizens in the communities we work in. With the campgrounds and the hotels, we partner with local small businesses,” he says. “That’s what we try to with everybody. We try to spread the wealth. Frankly, I’m proud of every single thing we’ve done.”
Burbage lives in West Ocean City with his Amy, whom he married in 2008, and their children, Chase and Caroline. He is a member of the board of directors for Taylor Bank. He is also a trustee for the Worcester Preparatory School Board of Directors, and a past member of the board of directors for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Lower Eastern Shore Program; the Maryland Coastal Bays Program; the Peninsula Regional Medical Center Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.