Firm hired to consider plans for Braddock UPMC site
Thursday, August 25, 2011
By Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Development Group will spend the next 30 days seeking to determine what
kind of project makes the most sense for the former site of UPMC
Allegheny County's Redevelopment Authority on
Tuesday selected the Pittsburgh-based for-profit firm to come up with
plans for renewal of the now vacant tract. "We are going to determine
... what the market needs, what's viable and what's sustainable," Trek
president William Gatti said.
That work in the next month will
include multiple meetings with Braddock residents, elected officials
and local development agencies, Mr. Gatti said.
The land still
belongs to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which closed the
hospital in January 2010. That decision divided the community and was
preceded and followed by months of protests and lawsuits. The building
was demolished in February.
Dennis Davin, the county's director
of economic development, predicted that the property would be
transferred to the redevelopment authority in the next few months. His
department provides staff for the authority.
The authority authorized his department to negotiate a developer's agreement with Trek.
Once a renewal plan is agreed upon, the site would be transferred to a developer.
proposal was one of two considered by the economic development
department. The firm was recommended in part because of its track
record and familiarity with projects providing affordable housing for
seniors, Mr. Davin said.
Herky Pollock, who chaired the
redevelopment authority meeting, said he was impressed by how quickly
the county's economic development department had moved to advance new
uses for the hospital site. "They are turning a negative situation into
something positive," he said.
Braddock Mayor John Fetterman also
praised county officials and their boss, County Executive Dan Onorato.
"Without his intervention and support we wouldn't have a redevelopment
plan," he said.
Borough officials want to see mixed uses on the site, Mr. Fetterman said, and senior citizen housing should be only one element.
hoping that UPMC will provide an urgent-care facility to go with the
dental clinic we've been promised," he said. "We'd like to see a
community college campus and space for new small businesses."
Urgent care offices provide basic health care treatment, including some imaging services.
also want assurances that jobs in construction and other trades
generated by the renewal project will go to people from the community,
David Hughes, a longtime opponent of the hospital's
closing and demolition, said the primary need facing Braddock residents
remained health-care services now that the Braddock Hospital's
emergency room was gone. "Retail outlets and senior housing are not
highest priorities," he said. "The best thing the county could do is
take some of the [development] money and provide free ambulance service
for people who are uninsured," he said.
Mr. Hughes is a member of
the steering committee for Save Our Community Hospitals, which fought
UPMC's decision to close the hospital. He also serves as president of
Citizen Power, an energy and health advocacy nonprofit.