East Allegheny (Deutschtown) eagerly awaits dialysis clinic

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The eastern half of East Allegheny hasn't seen new commercial development in decades, but a proposed dialysis clinic is ready to break ground on a prominent vacant lot as soon as the city issues a building permit.

DaVita, one of the largest providers of dialysis, bought Allegheny General Hospital's outpatient dialysis center in 2010 and began looking for a nearby location to provide services under contract with the hospital.

Marco Pompeo, a principal at Marc Anthony Construction, DaVita's local developer, scouted 20 sites within four blocks of the hospital, both vacant lots and existing buildings. All but one vacant lot was either too small or otherwise problematic, he said. Existing buildings were either too expensive to buy or too expensive to renovate.

The proposed 9,000-square-foot building would be in the block bounded by Madison Avenue, Tripoli Street and Lovitt and Turtle ways.

DaVita expects to be up and running at that location by late summer or early fall with 25 employees, said Joe Farrell, regional operations director for DaVita.

He said proximity to Allegheny General wasn't imperative, "but because these patients sometimes have other conditions, being close to the hospital is a good thing."

East Allegheny, also known as Deutschtown, is bisected by Route 279. The part west of the interstate is where the majority of commercial businesses are; the other side has few businesses and many vacant lots.

The Community Alliance of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown blessed the proposed construction after working with Mr. Pompeo on the design. The alliance recently completed a master plan that has guidelines for development.

"It was important to DaVita that the clinic be on one floor, street level," he said, "and it was important to the neighborhood that the building be in keeping with the local architecture," which is two- and three-stories. "We came up with a plan for a one-story brick building with a second-story gable" with four windows.

Ruth Ann Dailey, president of the alliance's board and a columnist for the Post-Gazette, said it was an interesting collaboration that resulted in "an agreement for a specifically Deutschtown look for the facility. They're even putting in a false second floor with backlit dormers to give us the building height we need to mitigate highway noise and dirt. They also agreed to give us the strip along Tripoli Street for a green space, which we'll install as soon as spring weather allows.

"They wanted a win for the neighborhood, and we wanted a win for them because that's how we get our win," she said.

The alliance is trying to get Lovitt Way between Madison and Turtle closed so that it can be used as a driveway and front door drop-off for the clinic.

Mr. Pompeo said his firm "may be interested in doing more development" in that neighborhood. "It has a great view of Downtown."

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626. Read her blog City Walkabout at www.post-gazette.com/citywalk .


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