The French Development Company was founded in the early 1980’s by Jay French who came to Baltimore from the Washington D.C. area to participate in neighborhood renewal efforts close to the harbor and downtown. Jay started a construction company, the French Company, in 1982 and began renovating houses in Federal Hill and Ridgely’s Delight. He was drawn to the rich historic character of the housing stock and to the sometimes gritty but genuine nature of the people he met there. Eventually, the French Company would renovate over sixty homes in Ridgely’s Delight, many using historic preservation tax credits.

Jay French's interest and commitment to Baltimore City continued and he soon formed a property management company, the Towner Management Company, and a real estate development company, the French Development Company. While still focused primarily on urban projects and adaptive reuse, today the companies have branched out to embrace sustainable development, mixed-finance and projects that promote the inclusion of a variety of incomes and client populations. The French Companies believe strongly in civic involvement and contributing in its own small way to the betterment of the communities in which it works.