Members of the Northside Leadership Conference received checks totaling $350,000 from Rivers Casino on Wednesday, a downpayment on the first of three $1 million annual commitments that the casino has made to the community development group as part of its operating license.

Some 11 projects will get funds from the casino. These include residential and commercial development, historic preservation and block safety projects.

"We're very glad to have the Rivers Casino as a partner,” Ahmed Martin, told thePittsburgh Tribune-Review. Martin is executive director of the Manchester Citizens Corporation, which will get $75,000 for its ongoing Manchester Renaissance project to restore historic homes and build new ones. “Placing a casino so close to a residential neighborhood is obviously going to have an impact; I'm glad it can be a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Opened in August 2009, Rivers Casino has more than 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games. It is owned by Holdings Acquisition Co. L.P., a joint venture of Walton Street Capital LLC and High Pitt Gaming LP.