Thursday, July 24, 2008

Landmark Announcements

So I saw this in the paper the other day:

An eight-month-old fund that has already loaned $1.6 million to nonprofit groups that boost urban areas will dramatically ramp up its lending, officials said yesterday.

That's because PNC Financial Services Group has loaned $5 million to the Urban Economic Loan Fund, part of Landmarks Community Capital Corp. Landmarks plans to quickly turn that money into capital for street-level revitalization.

"We expect to have a good portion of the $5 million [loaned] out in the next 60 days," said Howard B. Slaughter Jr., chief executive officer of Landmarks, which has as its parent organization the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation...

Loans from the fund are geared toward neighborhoods in communities throughout the Pittsburgh region. PNC's low-interest, five-year loan allows the fund to offer below-market rates and flexible terms, and to back more risky projects than banks would normally accept, Mr. Slaughter said.
Now, I'm a little leery about all this?

Why you might ask? Well for a couple of reasons:

(1) I'm no expert on housing finance in inner-city neighborhoods, but one must think that this kind of development must be inherently risky, otherwise banks would be taking the lead on it and foundations and the City would be taking a back seat. Compound that with the current state of the lending market, and I have this sneaking suspicion that either the risk hasn't been thought out *or* there's some sort of massive underlying source of funds that's propping up this program.

(2) I'm always suspicious of the tentacles of the Scaife Leviathan, whether that's the Trib, the Scaife Foundation(s), the Allegheny Institute, or the PH&LF and subsidiaries. I can't help think that there's some sort of underlying evil at play here, possibly to undermine and discredit Lukey...

Well, undermine and discredit *more*.

One foreclosure on any one of these projects, and its a big black eye for Luke. Or, alternatively, a string of successful projects and it discredit's the Mayor's economic development agency: the URA.

(3) Dr. Slaughter, until 8 months ago was the head of Fannie Mae in Pittsburgh. You know who Fannie Mae is, right? Not to say that there's any relationship here, but he really got out of there at the right time, didn't he?

Anyway, my Spidey Sense is killing me...

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