Representatives from NSLC and Rivers Casino hand a check to Manchester Citizens Corporation for its Renaissance Housing Program. (Photo/Emily Leone)

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The Northside Leadership Conference Wednesday presented about half a million dollars in grant money from Rivers Casino to eight neighborhood development and community groups for 11 projects throughout the Northside.

The projects range from site development to historic preservation, to renovation to lighting and street maps. These are the first projects funded by Rivers per an agreement to give NSLC

 $1 million per year for three years for housing and business development projects.

The rest of the $1 million will be distributed through the Northside Community Development Fund in the form of low interest loans.

The casino will disburse the next $1 million to the Conference on June 30, 2011.

The presentation took place at the Wheelhouse Bar and Grille in Rivers Casino where casino Director of Business Development and Community Relations George Matta and conference Board President Gloria Rayman affirmed the positive relationship between the casino, NSLC and neighborhood groups.

“There’s nothing like a $1 million check to move along great projects,” Rayman said.

Projects were chosen based on how well they met criteria set forth by the conference’s casino funds housing and business development committees.

The main criteria, said conference Executive Director Mark Fatla, was that the projects visibly and tangibly improve the community, and be strategically important to the individual neighborhood as well as the entire Northside.

Not all of the money allotted for business development was awarded this time around, Fatla said. Assuming enough qualified projects are presented during the next application period, the money could be distributed then.

Two of the projects — the Woodland Avenue revitalization project in Brightwood and the Lanark Street predevelopment in Fineview — were awarded loans rather than grants. The loans will be processed through the Northside Fund.

The conference board of directors decided to distribute half of the money through NSCDF so they could eventually recycle it and put it to other uses in the future.

“We didn’t want to blow through $3 million in three years and have nothing to show for it,” Fatla said.

The projects are as follows:

  • Historic Deutschtown Branding Initiative, Deutschtown Merchants Association, $36,400 grant
  • Western Renewed! Allegheny West Civic Council, $20,000 grant
  • Fineview Gateway Project, Fineview Citizens Council, $7,500 grant
  • Preservation of 1108 Federal St., Central Northside Neighborhood Council, $20,000 equity investment
  • Federal Street Commercial Facade Grants, Central Northside Neighborhood Council, $10,000 grant
  • Garden Theater Block Public Safety Improvements, Central Northside Neighborhood Council, $2,500 grant
  • Historic Deutschtown East Gateway Facade Renovation, Historic Deutschtown Development Corp., $80,000 grant
  • St. John’s Development Site, Brighton Heights Citizens Federation, $75,000 grant
  • Woodland Ave. Revitalization Project, Brightwood Civic Group, $75,000 grant and $125,000 loan
  • Lanark Street Predevelopment, Fineview Citizens Council, $20,000 loan
  • Manchester Renaissance Housing Program, Manchester Citizens Corp., $75,000 grant

For full project descriptions, please visit www.pittsburghnorthside.org.

The Northside Chronicle is a subsidiary of the Northside Community Development Fund. The Chronicle did not and will not receive any of these funds from Rivers Casino.