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First Woman to Lead Pittsburgh’s Redevelopment Authority

Susheela Nemani-Stranger will take over as the Authority’s executive director. If approved, she will be the first woman and the first person of Indian descent to lead the economic development agency.

(TNS) — The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority didn't have to look far to find its new leader. She was already on board.

Susheela Nemani-Stanger, who has served as the URA's acting executive director since the end of the year when Greg Flisram left, is in line to take over the job permanently.

URA board members are expected to consider Ms. Nemani-Stanger's appointment as executive director at their meeting Thursday, Jan. 18.

If approved, she will become the first woman and the first person of Indian descent to lead Pittsburgh's powerful economic development arm — one that has influence over projects, big and small, throughout the city as well as over issues like affordable housing and tax increment financing.

Ms. Nemani-Stanger replaces Mr. Flisram, who resigned Dec. 30 to return to the private sector after three years at the helm of the agency.

She won't have to spend a lot of time getting up to speed. Ms. Nemani-Stanger spent 13 years at the URA between 2007 and 2020. In that stint, she started as a project development specialist in the URA's economic development department.

After becoming director of economic development, she helped to craft public-private partnerships involving tax increment financing and parking tax diversions.

According to the URA, she also was instrumental in spawning and financing the state's first transit revitalization investment district in East Liberty.

After leaving the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2020 for two years, Ms. Nemani-Stanger returned last August to serve as deputy executive director, replacing Diamonte Walker, who left to lead Pittsburgh Scholar House.

Before returning to the authority, she served as Allegheny County's deputy director of economic development for more than a year. She also spearheaded an initiative at WQED to produce a public health campaign in partnership with the Black Equity Coalition and the Poise Foundation to tackle COVID-19 vaccine hesitation.

In her county role, she managed divisions related to development, business expansion and attraction, and affordable housing development and planning. She also had oversight over tax diversion and abatement programs, according to the URA.

The authority would not release the terms of Ms. Nemani-Stanger's employment contract or salary pending board action Thursday.

Ms. Nemani-Stanger is taking over at a time when the URA is facing challenges, including efforts to increase the affordable housing stock throughout the city.

In fact, the URA is expected to release a request for proposals at the end of the month aimed at converting some of Downtown's older Class B office buildings into housing.

Ms. Nemani-Stanger also has worked in Philadelphia and Baltimore. She returned to Pittsburgh to earn a master of public administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She earned her bachelor's degree at Mercyhurst University in Erie.

She could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Mayor Ed Gainey, who appoints the URA board members, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Uptown Development

Also Thursday, the URA board is expected to consider a $1.2 million rental gap program loan for the $64.5 million City's Edge development in Uptown near PPG Paints Arena.

City's Edge consists of the construction of 110 apartments, 92 of which will be affordable, as well as a two-story parking garage and 39,000 square feet of commercial space.

The URA loan will be used for part of the project involving 4 percent low-income housing tax credits and 54 of the affordable-housing units, according to an agenda summary. Of those units, 17 will be affordable to households at or below 60 percent of the area median income; 28 to those at or below 50 percent of the area median income; and 9 to those at or below 30 percent of the area median income.

City's Edge has been in the works for nearly five years. Construction is expected to take 22 months and be completed in 2024.

(c)2023 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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