The Morning File / Dear UPMC: Have I got a house for you!
I read with interest a certain muckraking rag's series last week about your zealous acquisition of real estate in the local region.
The series noted that in recent years you had often demonstrated your willingness to pay well above market prices to purchase property you coveted, even though in some cases you didn't really have all that much need for the parcel, as it turned out.
There was some hint of suggestion that as a nonprofit institution, there might be something wrong with UPMC spending so much to dominate the real estate market. It was almost as if someone was implying it's not right for you to expand tax-exempt holdings in the type of spending spree that would embarrass the Sultan of Brunei. Some people even get mad at you when you tear down some old building and replace it with a parking lot -- as though those people don't have cars and ever appreciate a place to put them!
Well, I'm here to tell you you have nothing to be ashamed about. You have every right to pay two or three or five times the price that others think a property is worth. In fact, I encourage it, as I know a house that would be an attractive addition to your portfolio:
I am here to offer you, as one of Pittsburgh's most notable, charitable, richest, super-aggressive entities, the chance for a clean, quick, no-fuss transaction to obtain another private residence -- assuming, of course, you are willing to pay several times what others have deemed it to be worth, as is customary.
It's always possible you have no real need for a parcel where I live, but I don't think that's been an impediment in the past. There is probably some more depressed area a few miles away where you can close some kind of medical facility and replace it with one at my location. If you want to put up a parking lot instead, no one will mind -- my house has never had sentimental, historic significance for thousands of Pittsburghers, and I can guarantee no city council member will lie down in front of your bulldozers over preservation of my dump.
What's in it for you, you might wonder. Well, heck, why would you start asking that now? You want to get bigger, don't you? Isn't that enough? The more property you have, the more prestige and influence you have. Land is everything. Haggling over the merits and prices of such transactions is for small fry, not the likes of the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers or UPMC.
There's probably a more legitimate concern on your part, however: the lack of clear evidence that purchasing my home would do anything to harm Highmark, West Penn Allegheny Health System or even some lowly family physician somewhere who's refused to kowtow to you by selling his practice.
But, hey, Highmark and West Penn Allegheny are doing plenty right now to cut one another's throats, with no help from you. Let's not let vindictiveness toward them jeopardize what could be a wonderful win-win proposition for the two of us. (And as for any recalcitrant PCP, if one still exists, don't you guys have some team of assassins that just goes out to dispatch such vermin? If not, it's something to think about -- it's not like it's going to hurt your image or anything.)
I saw in the series how some naysayer had the gall to question how all of these property purchases of yours do anything to benefit health care in the region. That's a rather silly statement. Any simpleton would recognize that my own stress level, mental state and blood pressure would improve tremendously from having someone pay me far more for my property than it is worth. As UPMC repeats that process over and over, it is showing willingness to expend its vast resources to improve the mental and physical health of many Western Pennsylvanians. If that's not enough to end public criticism of this vast health care empire, what will it take?
Assuming you agree with my rationale, all that's left is for us to schedule the closing, once you contact me directly. Let's not bother with any real estate agents and their silly commissions. I have the impression you don't even care to do walk-throughs of the property you buy, and I sure don't want to have to clean up anything to impress you, so let's just call a deal a deal.
I look forward to seeing you soon, before some other health care giant comes calling. And don't forget the checkbook.
First Published October 1, 2012 12:00 am