Philadelphia, April 7, 2011 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced the appointment of Wendell Pritchett as chair of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (RDA) board. Mayor Nutter will resign from the board effective immediately and has appointed Denise Joy Smyler to fill the remainder of his two year term, which expires on March 28, 2013. He has also appointed Anuj Gupta to complete a five-year term on the board, which will expire on March 28, 2016. He will fill the seat formerly held by board member Asia Coney.
“Over the past three years, the RDA has made tremendous strides to make Philadelphia’s housing more equitable by driving innovative planning decisions and playing a critical role in economic development. Under the leadership of Terry Gillen, we received the fourth-largest NSP grant in the nation providing community development opportunities across the city, we vastly improved the RDA’s transparency and accountability, and during a recession, we provided planning and development support for major. Now, with Ed Covington leading this high-performing agency, the RDA will continue to grow and support our efforts to create jobs and affordable housing throughout the city,” said Mayor Nutter. “Although I cherished my time on this Board, I am confident that in Wendell’s capable hands the RDA will continue to perform its important work.”
Wendell Pritchett added, “It has been an honor to serve on the RDA Board under the leadership of Mayor Nutter over the past three years. I look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of Philadelphia and to lead a board that has such a vital impact on the city’s ongoing economic development.”
Since the beginning of Mayor Nutter’s term, the RDA has helped lead the city’s ongoing efforts to stabilize neighborhoods following the economic recession. The RDA manages the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which, through a $44 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, reduced blight, provided construction jobs, improved access to housing and helped small businesses. The RDA also created a Web site that publishes a list of all RDA properties available for sale and began to enforce development agreements on land previously owned by the agency.
Mayor Nutter also announced that Wendell Pritchett will resign as President of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC) board. Mayor Nutter will appoint Ed Covington, the current Executive Director of the RDA, as his designee on the board, a move that makes Covington the President of this board. The PHDC serves low- and moderate- income Philadelphians by collaborating with Community Development Corporations to develop new housing and rehabilitate existing homes for qualified homebuyers.
“By appointing Ed as President of the PHDC board, I have ensured that the city’s housing and development organizations will continue to coordinate their activities and work together. In order to spur economic opportunity and equitable housing for all Philadelphians, these agencies, as they have been doing during my administration, must continue to collaborate,” Mayor Nutter continued.
“I was delighted when the Mayor announced my appointment as executive director of the RDA last year, and I look forward to working even more closely with Executive Vice President Tony McIntosh and his team as President of the PHDC board. PHDC is a tremendous organization works toward the same goals and objectives as the RDA and has a strong relationship with our city’s communities. It has been a pleasure to be a member of this board for the past few months, and I am looking forward to continuing to move this organization forward,” said Ed Covington, Executive Director of the RDA.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), PHDC has weatherized and provided energy-efficiency improvements to over 1,000 occupied, existing homes for low- and moderate- income residents and employed people through these efforts. PHDC has a track record of supporting minority and disadvantaged businesses and has used these funds to support economic development in the city. Over the remaining 10 months of ARRA funding, PHDC will retrofit an additional 1,000 units. PHDC’s ongoing home repair programs provides subsidized or free home repairs in house and rental units, assisting individuals with physical disabilities, senior citizens, and low-income homeowners maintain their homes.
Wendell Pritchett is currently the Chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden, one of the three campuses of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He serves as Chief Executive Officer of the campus, which has approximately 6,300 students and a budget of about $60 million. He previously served as Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania and as Director of Policy and Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Nutter.
Anuj Gupta is currently Executive Director of Mt. Airy, USA, a community development corporation in Northwest Philadelphia focused on commercial and residential real estate development and rehabilitation, commercial corridor revitalization and housing counseling. Prior to assuming this position in November, he served in Mayor Nutter’s Administration as Chief of Staff/Deputy Commissioner in the Department of Licenses and Inspections and as a Deputy to the Managing Director. Mr. Gupta has a juris doctorate and masters of governmental administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Denise Smyler is a founding partner of The Smyler Firm, a Philadelphia-based law firm that concentrates in municipal finance matters and civil defense litigation. She formerly served as Deputy City Solicitor and Chief Legal Counsel to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner during the Rendell Administration. Ms. Smyler has a juris doctorate from Georgetown University.