Onorato proposes new office building to replace UPMC Braddock

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Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato this afternoon announced a plan to demolish the former UPMC Braddock hospital building and replace it with a multi-purpose office building with room for senior citizen housing, a primary care physician's office and work-force development classes offered through the county's community college.

Mr. Onorato said University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has agreed to tear down the existing building, perhaps as early as June, at a cost of as much as $5 million. Once that occurs, the county will put out a request for proposals from private developers willing to develop the vacant site.

"It would be a really quick turn around. UPMC would demolish the building and then we would put out a request for proposal," said Mr. Onorato.

UPMC, Mr. Onorato said, has committed to demolishing the building if no other hospital or health system commits to taking it and operating it as a medical facility. When UMPC announced last year it would close the hospital, officials said the facility didn't draw enough local patients to keep it in operation, which makes unlikely any other medical provider would take the site.

It also would cost too much to retrofit the building for other uses, county officials said.

The county has specific items it wants to include in the new building. In addition to expanding the Community College of Allegheny County's workforce development classes, Mr. Onorato the building would have 90 new units for senior citizen housing, 30 of which would be assisted living units.

The building also would include space for two commercial "anchor tenants," a cafe or restaurant and an ATM.

In presenting his proposal, Mr. Onorato said UPMC has committed to make payments to Braddock of $90,000 a year for five years in lieu of taxes. The borough, one of the county's poorest, had been getting about $34,000 in taxes from UPMC employees who lived in Braddock.

In addition, UPMC also will implement shuttle service for residents -- five times a day -- from Braddock to the nearest hospitals.

"This is real. This is something we can do," Mr. Onorato said, adding that the development, which would be funded by a combination of public and private funds, could happen as soon as early next year.

Braddock residents unsuccessfully fought the decision to close the hospital, the borough's largest employer at about 600.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Karamagi Rujumba: krujumba@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.


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