Pittsburgh development CEO debuts
On Monday, Howard B. Slaughter Jr. officially started his job as CEO of Landmarks Community Capital Inc., a new nonprofit corporation formed by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.
Slaughter didn’t wait to begin his quest to raise the $10 million to $15 million he hopes to secure for the new corporation to invest in community development and revitalization projects in Western Pennsylvania and in the neighboring states of West Virginia and Ohio.
“We’ve already been talking to some companies that have social investment programs,” said Slaughter, whose appointment was announced last month. “We also are going to be talking to some local foundations to discuss our new company and the opportunities we see.”
Slaughter, 49, can draw on his considerable credentials in urban housing and home financing as he pitches funders on behalf of the new corporation.
In essence, he is back home at Pittsburgh History & Landmarks, where he headed neighborhood programs as director of preservation services from 1995 to 1999.
That was before he left to serve an eight-year stint as director of Fannie Mae’s Pittsburgh Community Business Center, which has been a major source of home financing in this region.
Fannie Mae, the nation’s largest home funding company, decided to close the center along with similar offices in more than 40 cities, citing realignment of goals and the need to cut costs. Pittsburgh’s center helped 24,000 families in the region become homeowners at projects that include Summerset at Frick Park, and Bedford Hope VI and the Oak Hill housing complex, both in the Hill District.
Slaughter previously served as vice president of Dollar Bank’s Community Development group.
“Howard brings the vision and the working knowledge for the new nonprofit corporation,” said Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., president of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and president of Landmarks Community Capital.
“We think he is just the person to expand the assistance we hope to render to Western Pennsylvania in revitalizing historic rural areas, towns and urban areas, particularly in Pittsburgh,” Ziegler said.
Efforts might include helping the Hill District community fulfill a long-standing need to bring a grocery store to the neighborhood, said Slaughter.
Hill District community leaders want a commitment for a new supermarket to be part of a “community benefits agreement” with the Pittsburgh Penguins in return for their support for the hockey team’s new $290 million arena. Slaughter said he’s with Penguins President David Morehouse to discuss how the corporation’s participation may help make that happen.
Improving neighborhood housing also is a target as is helping preserve some of the historic farms in the region that the South Side-based Landmarks Foundation has identified as worth saving in a recent survey.
“In the first year, we would like to provide funding for at least four of five different projects ranging from $25,000 to $1 million,” Slaughter said. “We have a wide range of funding options because the multiplicity of opportunities for investment are wide.”
The first investments could come by the first quarter of 2008, he said.
The idea of the new corporation is to raise funds through grants, loans and investments. Roles it can play include as developer, co-developer, or a lender to community development corporations and others that undertake such work.
Slaughter uses the accounting term “FIFO” in describing the corporation’s investment strategy. The idea is to be “first in” with its funds to help jump-start projects in early stages, and then be “first out” with those funds when more permanent financing is secured from others to carry development forward.
“We certainly want to focus on urban areas in the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County region,” said Slaughter.
Another target area is likely to be Wilkinsburg, where Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has worked with two $500,000 grants secured from the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development to acquire and restore four century-old structures for new housing.
“We also would like to do some work on the North Side and where we have several county Main Street programs. We have pilot areas in Tarentum, Swissvale, Elizabeth Township and Stowe,” he said.
Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato is “very excited” about the new corporation and its potential, said spokesman Kevin Evanto.
Slaughter and Ziegler met with Onorato several weeks ago to outline their plans.
Ron DaParma can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7907