Max N. Berry, a lawyer and close ally of Mayor Marion Barry, said yesterday that he expects the Reagan administration to replace him soon as chairman of the powerful independent federal agency overseeing renewal of Pennsylvania Avenue.
A prime candidate to replace Berry as head of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, according to sources, is Henry A. Berliner Jr., a lawyer and businessman who has been active for many years in District Republican politics. Berliner served on the Reagan administration's transition team.
Arthur A. Fletcher, a former assistant secretary of Labor in the Nixon administration and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for D.C. mayor in 1978, also has been considered for the post.
Berry, a holdover from the Carter administration who serves at the pleasure of the president, said he learned through unofficial channels that he is on his way out as commission chairman. A White House official who specializes in intergovernmental relations declined to say whether Berry would be replaced.
The commission was created by Congress and authorized to spend up to $200 million and to choose architects and builders for numerous hotel, commercial, residential and office properties to be constructed along Washington's historic main street between the White House and the Capitol.
The properties under the agency's control are among the last major parcels of land suitable for large-scale development in the old downtown area.
Berry, who was Mayor Barry's chief campaign fundraiser in 1978 and assisted in his 1982 reelection effort, was appointed to the chairman's post in July 1980, replacing Joseph B. Danzansky, who died the previous year.
Berry's appointment was held up for several months because of Berry's wavering over whether to support Carter or Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in the Democratic presidential race. Berry subsequently endorsed Carter.
Berry, who specialized in international law and had little experience in real estate before taking the PADC job, proved to be a highly effective and hard-working chief executive who occasionally overrode the recommendations of his professional staff, according to those familiar with commission operations.
He is credited with playing key roles in salvaging the planned restoration of the Willard Hotel and helping to keep afloat the planned renovation of the National Press Club Building. Both projects are located near 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
James O. Gibson, the former D.C. planning director who represented the city on the commission, said Berry has been a "high-powered" and hard-working chairman who has worked well with board members, developers, investors and community groups.
"He's really devoted the kind of time necessary for this job," Gibson said.
Berry's term doesn't officially expire until October 1984. He said he probably would remain with the agency, as a board member, if President Reagan replaces him as chairman.
"It would be a new role and I'd adapt to it," he said. "I'll do whatever I can to help the PADC."
Berliner was out of town yesterday and couldn't be reached for comment on his possible appointment. A local businessman who is a friend of Berliner's described him yesterday as a "very competent" individual who has broad experience in the law and banking.
Berliner led the D.C. delegation to the 1972 and 1976 Republican National Conventions and was active in Reagan's presidential campaign.
In 1970, Berliner was a leading candidate for the job of D.C. Corporation Counsel. John N. Mitchell, then U.S. Attorney General, supported Berliner for the post but then mayor Walter E. Washington favored mayoral aide Julian R. Dugas. Neither was appointed.