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Category Archive: Farmland Preservation

  1. Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Announces New Non-profit Corporation

    Mark Bibro, Chair, announced today the formation by Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) of a new non-profit corporation to expand PHLF’s activities in neighborhood and urban revitalization.  The Chief Executive Officer will be Howard B. Slaughter, Jr., and Arthur Ziegler will serve as president.

    The new non-profit, Landmarks Community Capital Corporation (LCCC), will build a financial base by obtaining loans, grants, and investment capital and in turn will finance and develop projects that assist in the revitalization of urban centers, towns, and neighborhoods.  The corporation may undertake the actual developments, and co-develop or lend funds to community development corporations and others that undertake such work.  It will also work to support expansion of the regional employment base and energy conservation, green and sustainable goals, and assist rural and farm economic developments.  LCCC will also contract with government and private agencies to define such projects and conduct feasibility studies for them.

    Dr. Howard B. Slaughter, Jr., who resigned last week after eight years as the Director of the Pittsburgh Fannie Mae Community Business Center, will become one of Pittsburgh’s newest Chief Executive Officers.  Dr. Slaughter will now serve as the CEO of the newly established company, Landmarks Community Capital Corporation.  The company’s focus will be on providing equity, debt, short and intermediate term financing for housing and economic development activities in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, and West Virginia markets.

    Slaughter will utilize his vast experience, which includes serving as the former Vice President of Dollar Bank’s Community Development group and past Director of Preservation Services of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.  Brian Hudson, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, said,

    “Howard’s new role as CEO of Landmarks Community Capital Corporation will benefit the State by ensuring that more capital is deployed in this market, which will have a significant impact in Pennsylvania.  We are fortunate to have someone with Howard’s skills serving at the State level and as the CEO of LCCC.”

    Arthur Ziegler said of Howard, “He has been deeply involved in community development financing from every perspective and we are certain he will lead our new non-profit to excellent results.  He has been deeply involved in preservation nationally as the former PA Advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”

    Slaughter said, “There is an opportunity in the market to provide appropriate financing for existing and new developments independently and in collaboration with other financial intermediaries and developers.  Landmarks Community Capital Corporation will be a private-sector catalyst and a participator in financing housing, mixed-use, and commercial developments.  It will also focus on public sector policy initiatives and work with legislators as well as utilize tools like the New Market Tax Credits to bring additional needed capital to the region.”

    Brief background of Dr. Howard B. Slaughter, Jr.:  He holds five earned degrees, including a Master’s Degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Public Management and his Doctorate in Information Systems and Communications from Robert Morris University.  He also attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, completing the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government.  He completed course work on Fundamentals of Real Estate Finance at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Real Estate.  Slaughter is also a Fannie Mae Foundation Fellow and serves on the Board of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, and on the Board of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, receiving a gubernatorial appointment from Governor Ed Rendell.  He is also the Founder of the Financial Literacy Program of Pittsburgh at Robert Morris University.  He will start his new job on October 15, 2007.

  2. Spinoff targets urban revitalization

    Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Ron DaParma
    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is forming a new nonprofit corporation to expand its activities in neighborhood and urban revitalization.
    Mark Bibro, chairman of the South Side-based preservationist organization, announced Monday the foundation had hired Howard B. Slaughter Jr., who recently left his job as director of Fannie Mae’s Pittsburgh Community Business Center, as the unit’s CEO.

    The new nonprofit — Landmarks Community Capital Inc. — will provide equity and debt financing for housing and economic development in Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia, said Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., the foundation’s president.

    “This broadens the tools with which we can work,” said Ziegler, who also will serve as the new corporation’s president. “It enables us to tap the capital markets on a broader basis, and we can do more things within the very broad interpretation under which we operate for historic preservation.”

    Cities and towns throughout Western Pennsylvania are historic, but restoring historic buildings isn’t the only way they can be revitalized, Ziegler said.

    “You need new construction, you need new businesses on Main Street, or you may need new housing or new forms of green energy,” he said.

    The idea of the new corporation is to raise funds through grants, loans and investments that the foundation can use for grants, loans and investments in such projects. Roles it can play include developer, co-developer or lender to community-development corporations and others that undertake such work.

    It also hopes to contract with government and private agencies to define such projects and conduct feasibility studies for them, according to a news release. Goals include expanding regional employment, promoting energy conservation and assisting in rural and farm economic development.

    “There is an opportunity in the market to provide appropriate financing for existing and new developments independently and in collaboration with other financial intermediaries and developers,” said Slaughter, 49. His appointment is effective Oct. 15.

    Ron DaParma can be reached at or 412-320-7907.

  3. Preservation group moves beyond county lines

    Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Ron DaParma
    Sunday, September 9, 2007

    The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is best known for its preservation efforts of historic properties throughout Allegheny County.

    However, the South Side-based agency has been extending its reach beyond its home county in recent years, including with its latest project in Beaver County — an effort to bring “residential reinvestment” to areas near business districts in nine communities.

    The foundation is the lead consultant on the project focusing on Aliquippa, Ambridge, Beaver, Bridgewater, Freedom, Midland, Monaca, New Brighton and Rochester.

    “The idea is to work with the local officials and independent local organizations to identify new projects for each of the communities that in general terms fall into the guidelines of the state’s Elm Street program,” said Eugene Matta, the foundation’s director of real estate and special development programs.

    Elm Street is a program established by Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration that this year is making available $7 million statewide to improve residential streets near Main Street business districts.

    It provides seed money to be matched by funds raised from other sources to make the improvements a reality.

    Though not an official Elm Street program, the foundation describes it as an “Elm Street-like” program.

    While it will not necessarily be securing funds under that program, it will be seeking support from state and private sources.

    The foundation is working under a consultant contract it signed several weeks ago with the Community Development Program of Beaver County, paid for with $50,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

    Also on board is Town Center Associates, an organization serving as “sub-consultant.”

    “TCA is headquartered in Beaver County and knows that county well,” said Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., PH&LF president.

    “It’s president, Mark Peluso, already has done quite a bit of work in the community,” said Matta.

    Examples of the projects funded under the Elm Street program include improvements to building exteriors, streets, new street lighting and trees, sidewalks or other “pedestrian-oriented features,” Matta said.

    Other activities include improvements of mixed-use buildings in residential areas, acquisition of properties, demolition and reclamation projects, code violation repairs, emergency housing repairs, addition of home security items, parks and playgrounds and water and sewer connections.

    The consultants have held one meeting with community leaders to discuss how to proceed with the program, and a second meeting is scheduled Tuesday.

    “We suggested to community representatives that sometime in October we would like to have at least four projects they feel are worth considering,” Matta said. “Then somewhere between October and November, we should be able to start work on applications for funding.”

    Over the past year, the foundation has secured five grants totaling nearly $800,00 under the DCED funding process.

    Its efforts include helping to attract $2 million in investments in Wikinsburg to rehabilitate four properties in the historic Hamnett Place neighborhood.

    It is working as manager of the Main Street program in Vandergrift, Armstrong County, and it received a $7,500 grant from National City Corp. to help form a Main Street project for Freeport, Leechburg, Apollo.

    Preservation of historic farms also has been a focus. The organization is involved in a survey of farm properties in Green and Washington counties, Matta said.

  4. Farmland Saved

    June 28, 2007
    PHLF News

    Several years ago we worked with the South Fayette Township Board of Commissioners and Township Manager Mike Hoy to analyze what uses might be made of the historic 217 acres Boy’s Industrial Home of Western Pennsylvania. The home had closed and only one historic building remained, but the land was used for farming and natural growth.

    As part of our Farmland Preservation program, we employed the landscape design firm of LaQuatra Bonci, and the architectural firm Landmarks Design Associates, both of Pittsburgh, to work together with government leaders and community residents and our staff to try to develop a preservation plan for the property.

    We are pleased that South Fayette has just announced that the Allegheny County Agricultural Land Preservation program is paying $1.6 million or $10,000 an acre for the rights to the land to ensure that it will remain farmland permanently. Fifty-seven acres will be utilized for recreation.

    Through our Farmland Preservation program, this brings total land protected under the original grant we received from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to 1,314 acres.

  5. State agency to begin survey of region’s historic farms

    Pittsburgh Post GazetteBy Don Hopey,
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Dozens of historic buildings and farms have fallen through the cracks in the southwestern Pennsylvania coalfields, but a planned survey may help the state produce a much-needed safety net.

    The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has received a $75,000 federal grant from Preserve America to conduct a two-year survey of more than 2,800 farms and other properties in Washington and Greene counties.

    While some historic buildings, like the Ernest Thralls House near Spraggs in Greene County, have been damaged by longwall mine subsidence because the state did little to save them, others have been lost because not even the agencies that are supposed to protect them knew they were there, tucked along the back roads in the rolling hills of the mostly rural counties.

    Carol Lee, the commission’s National Register of Historic Places coordinator, said the state’s official history agency is limited by staffing and funding, and doesn’t know how many historic properties have been damaged by longwall mining or even how many listed or eligible properties still exist.

    “We have listed and eligible historic properties in each county, but we would have to survey or get reports from local groups to know what is happening to them,” Ms. Lee said.

    That lack of information can be a problem because the commission is supposed to provide the state Department of Environmental Protection, which issues mining permits, with pre-mining advisory opinions about whether subsidence caused by longwall operations will damage those properties.

    The commission lists 92 properties in Washington County on the National Register of Historic Places and another 197 sites eligible for listing, and 41 properties in Greene County, with another 23 judged eligible. But some historians say there are many more.

    The commission will plan the historical farm survey this winter and begin field survey work next spring.

  6. Down on the Farm

    While Landmarks has gained national attention using planned gifts like easements to enable historic buildings to be adapted and reborn, our greatest satisfaction comes from helping people of all demographics support our mission and their families. Consider Clare and Duncan Horner.

    Nearly three decades ago, the couple purchased a run-down house in the Mexican War Streets Neighborhood from Landmarks, then gave us a facade easement on the property. They went on to restore the building and acquire four others, now in various stages of restoration.

    Thus, it should come as no surprise that when Landmarks recently offered to use Richard Scaife and Laurel Foundation funding to purchase a preservation easement on the Horner’s mid-19th century, 65-acre Greene County farm, the Horners not only agreed, but are using the $25,000 purchase price to restore the farmhouse and are refinancing their mortgage to secure the easement and make a $25,000 gift to endow the costs associated with monitoring it.

    The story of the creative way the gift was structured and the Horner’s three-decade relationship with Landmarks will be featured in the next issue of PHLF News. For now, however, Duncan and Clare are just happy knowing that they’ve preserved a home for daughters Anne and Jocelyn.

    As for the farm, “it’s a strategically located property on the intersection of two rural roads adjoining Ryerson Station State Park,” says Landmarks President Arthur Ziegler. “The woodframe Victorian farmhouse with carpenter gingerbread posts and wood barn represent the prior use of the property as an active farm.

    “The site has both lowland and hilltop, a large pond with earth dam, a wooded area above the pond contiguous to the State Park woodland and there is a wetland with a wide variety of natural growth in the lowland. It’s definitely worth preserving.”

  7. Groups band together to preserve local farmland

    By Patricia Lowry,
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Farmer Ron Beinlich, who grows berries, peaches, pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables on his Triple B Farms near Monongahela, has been watching family farms disappear all of his life.

    “Every farm in Allegheny County is under some development pressure,” he told a nearly full house in the 183-seat Carnegie Museum of Art Theater Saturday morning. They came to hear an overview of local farm preservation efforts from three groups working to keep the bulldozers at bay: Allegheny County Farm Preservation Board, Allegheny Land Trust and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. They do it by purchasing the development rights of farm land, which are held as easements against the property.

    “We have preserved every farm we’ve tried,” Beinlich said of the preservation board, which he helped establish seven years ago. The board, funded by the county and authorized by state law, has preserved nine farms and a total of 1,100 acres in the county. Through the Growing Greener II ballot initiative, which Pennsylvania voters approved last year, $3.6 million in farm preservation money is available to the board this year.

    The money will be used to identify farmers interested in preserving agricultural use of their land in perpetuity and to fund the preservation easements. The cost of the easement is equal to the amount of the development value of the property — put another way, it’s the difference between what the farm would sell for as a farm and what it would sell for as land to be developed for housing or non-agricultural commercial use.

    Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has purchased easements on farm building facades as well as entire farms, said attorney Martha Jordan, a Landmarks trustee. Jack Miller, Landmarks director of gift planning, said that with the help of a $500,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation grant and $600,000 from Landmarks the organization has preserved more than 13,000 acres of farmland in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties with a collective value of almost $6 million. In Washington County, the Allegheny Land Trust, headed by Roy Kraynyk, has preserved the 103-acre Linder horse farm.

    While the museum’s program focused mostly on Allegheny County efforts, almost every Pennsylvania county now has an agricultural land preservation board. And through Growing Greener II, the state protected 37 farms on 3,360 acres last year. The goal is to protect another 2,000 farms over the next six years. Pennsylvania leads the nation in farmland preservation, with a total of 2,783 farms and 318,350 acres saved from development, and with 55 of its 67 counties enrolled in the easement purchase program.

    Those efforts seem to have come just in the nick of time, as the Brookings Institution’s 2003 study showed Pennsylvania also is a national leader in sprawl, second only to Wyoming.

    The museum program, called “Preserving Western Pennsylvania’s Farms,” was held in conjunction with the Heinz Architectural Center exhibit, “Barns of Western Pennsylvania: Vernacular to Spectacular,” which continues through May 28.

    This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633