The next chapter in the UPMC Braddock saga involves Allegheny County
plans for the now-closed hospital site and opponents' plans to stop
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's demolition of the hospital.
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato wants to build a new
four-story structure on the UPMC Braddock site that would have 90
housing units, a primary care clinic, a cafe and a Community College of
Allegheny County center.
"Everyone wanted to keep the hospital open," Onorato stressed. "This
is a real proposal if in fact there is not going to be a hospital on the
Braddock Mayor John Fetterman said he didn't like UPMC Braddock
closing, but that an "outstanding solution" was worked out with what
Onorato proposed and UPMC promises to maintain medical services.
"Everybody agrees that we wished UPMC had never instituted this
closure," Fetterman said. "Barring that, I think this is a very
comprehensive and good solution."
Onorato's plan includes UPMC commitments to pay for the demolition
which could cost $5 million and to provide a $3 million match for a
state $3 million Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program grant the
county will seek.
"The county executive came to us with a very specific request and we
agreed to that request which includes paying the entire cost for the
demolition of the building," University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Vice President Paul Wood said Tuesday.
"It also includes a commitment to cover lost tax and other service costs for five years," Wood said.
Onorato said UPMC will make an annual payment in lieu of taxes of
$60,000 to $90,000 to the borough allowing Braddock to avoid raising
The county executive's plan presumed that UPMC wouldn't find anyone
to take over the now-closed hospital and that the county hadn't, either.
"As of today, we have no one who has come forward and said they will take it," Onorato said.
"His proposal's a little bit premature," David Hughes of Save Our
Community Hospitals said. "We have information that there are potential
interested operators to operate it as some sort of health care facility
and in fact one of those is touring the hospital (today)."
Hughes said it is a "large health provider from out of state" and not a local hospital organization.
The SOCH spokesman disputed UPMC's willingness to give the Braddock site to anyone willing to run a hospital there.
"We said from day one we would donate the building free," UPMC's Wood said. "We found no takers."
"They don't want a competitor using the facility," Hughes said. "Our
county government should be a little slower in doing what UPMC wants and
a little faster in doing what the community wants."
Onorato's plan presumed that no additional court action intervenes,
such as a possible federal civil rights lawsuit sought by Braddock's
borough council President Jesse L. Brown.
Brown reportedly had a conference call about the legal action he has
requested from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday
but later said, "I have no comment, I can't make a comment."
Brown has worked with the ad hoc SOCH, which claims a contact list
with 300 names and has weekly organizing meetings at Immanuel Lutheran
Church in Braddock.
With the backing of SOCH, Brown and Councilwoman Tina Doose
reportedly will discuss what may come next at a news conference in
Braddock today. Brown wants a delay in the demolition.
"I'm asking them to go three months and see what happens," Brown
said. "I'm asking UPMC and the county to go three months and see if
anyone can come in and utilize that building and then do what you have
to do after that period."
Wood does not expect a demolition before June.
"It is going to take a couple months to do the prep work and to get the demo crews hired and in there," the UPMC spokesman said.
"There is no way UPMC is going to pay $2.5 million a year to maintain a building they do not want to own," Fetterman said.
Onorato said it would cost UPMC $240,000 a month to continue to maintain the closed hospital.