Urban Redevelopment Authority executive director stepping down July 31. Committee announced for national search.

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Urban Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Rob Rubinstein (right) and URA board member Rep. Ed Gainey (left). (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource)

Urban Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Rob Rubinstein (right) and URA board member Rep. Ed Gainey (left). (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource)

A newly announced committee will conduct a national search to replace Robert Rubinstein, departing executive director of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority. Rubinstein’s last day in the role will be July 31, the mayor’s office and URA board of directors jointly announced Thursday.

Rubinstein will continue at the URA, working on special projects and serving in an advisory role, said Sam Williamson, chair of the URA board. The committee has yet to meet, Williamson.

The five members of the search committee are:

    • LaShawn Burton-Faulk, executive director of Manchester Citizens Corporation and a member of Pittsburgh’s Planning Commission.
    • Dan Gilman, chief of staff for Mayor Bill Peduto.
    • Grant Oliphant, president of The Heinz Endowments.
    • Janera Solomon, executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.
    • Sam Williamson, URA board chair and Western Pennsylvania district leader of service workers union 32BJ SEIU.

    “We put together a search committee who’s going to be diverse, representative of the city, and really thoughtful about what we need in an executive director,” Williamson said. “We’re going to continue our focus on neighborhood empowerment and equitable development.”

    The URA is the city’s economic development agency, overseeing public investments in neighborhood redevelopment and issues like affordable housing.

    The mayor’s office and URA board will announce an interim director before July 31, according to the joint press release. Diamonte Walker, the authority’s director of performance and compliance, will act as interim deputy director, effective immediately, according to URA spokeswoman Dana Bohince. The authority did not previously have a deputy director position.

    Rubinstein was named executive director in February 2017 but has served in the position in an interim capacity since 2012. The URA first announced in April that Rubinstein was leaving the post for personal reasons “in the coming months” but would remain at the agency after his replacement came on board.

    The URA said in April that Rubinstein has overseen the creation, implementation and management of more than 20 Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts. The funding mechanism pays for public or private improvements associated with a development using incremental real estate tax revenue.

    Among the URA’s main initiatives is the continuing rollout of the Housing Opportunity Fund, which is funded by $10 million in real estate transfer taxes each year. Williamson said in April he doesn’t expect the URA’s recent focus on affordable housing and equitable development to change.

    Last year, the agency hired HR&A Advisors, a consulting firm that contracted with the city on its bid proposal for Amazon’s HQ2 competition, to help develop a strategic plan. The document will set the URA's priorities for the next several years. HR&A will deliver a final set of recommendations to the agency’s board in the coming weeks, Williamson said.

    Tom Lisi is PublicSource's Develop PGH reporter. You can reach him at 412-368-6480 or by email at tom@publicsource.org.

    Develop PGH has been made possible with funding from The Heinz Endowments.

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