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URA Leadership Changes Hands

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority has promoted one of its managers to the position of Acting Executive Director, following the departure of Rob Stephany.

Economic development manager Robert Rubinstein will occupy the director's office for the time being. Stephany has joined the Heinz Endowments.

URA Board Member and State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) said Stephany departed on good terms, leaving behind an impressive legacy.

"Rob Stephany has led significant development throughout the Strip District, certainly the acreage of the Buncher Company, the acquisition of the Tippins twenty acres — an abandoned steel mill at Butler [Street] and the 62nd Street Bridge," said Ferlo. "You've seen the renaissance, really, of Market Square, and the downtown major office structures."

Ferlo said Stephany will continue to work on redevelopment at the Heinz Endowments, where his first project is to tackle the former J&L Steel Mill site in Hazelwood.

It's premature to begin thinking about a long-term replacement for Stephany, according to Senator Ferlo.

"Maybe at some point in the future, there may be a possibility that there would be a job search locally," said Ferlo. "I can only speak for myself: I'm very confident in Robert Rubinstein's skill and his commitment to the agency. He certainly enjoys the support of the Board Chairman, Mr. [Yarone] Zober."

Zober is Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's chief of staff. Any long-term URA leadership decisions would be determined by Zober and Ravenstahl, said Ferlo.

Ferlo described the current atmosphere at the URA as uncertain.

"Certainly, we're concerned about what the commitment will be in the future from the state government," said Ferlo. "We had a major partnership with the previous Rendell administration that fueled a lot of economic development and investment in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. That's going to change, unfortunately, due to the budget situation and certainly the philosophy of the new gubernatorial administration."