Highmark lays out 'medical mall' plan
Highmark Inc. would build Western Pennsylvania's first “medical mall” on vacant land along busy Perry Highway in Pine and an ambulatory surgery center in Monroeville, if municipal leaders approve site plans.
Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said on Thursday the insurer would wait until it secures necessary permits before explaining its plans. In paperwork filed under its shell companies, Osiris Properties LLC and Optimus 28 Management LLC, and its architecture firm, Downtown-based Astorino, the insurer detailed ideas for planners in Pine and Monroeville.
The proposed Wexford Medical Mall would offer patients a pharmacy, urgent-care center, cancer treatment suite, family-practice offices, a surgery center, a health food store and other medical services, and health care-related retailers under one roof, according to documents submitted last week to Pine's planning department.
“The objective is to look at consumers, the care trend and where they seek care. The outpatient setting is where many patients are getting their care,” Billger said. “We've long said that we're going to be looking at venues to keep in the community.”
Highmark in January proposed building medical malls and outpatient centers as part of its plan to create a $1 billion health system to compete with UPMC, the region's dominant health system. The Pine and Monroeville proposals are the first public descriptions of Highmark's plans.
Highmark, the state's largest insurer, spent more than $32 million since last year buying property in Pine, Monroeville, Cranberry, Ross and South Strabane through shell companies. It also intends to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System, Jefferson Regional Medical Center and private physician practices.
It would build the Wexford Medical Mall at 12121 Perry Highway, a site that Optimus 28 Management bought from North Way Christian Community. The mall could cover 140,000 to 190,000 square feet over two floors.
“We have the available land. It's certainly in accordance with all of our use and zoning requirements.,” said Michael J. Dennehy Jr., chairman of Pine's board of supervisors. “And we consider they would be a good neighbor and, by the way, a taxpaying neighbor as opposed to a lot of UPMC facilities.”
Pine's planners will hold a hearing on the site plan Oct. 8, said Larry Kurpakus, township planning director. Kurpakus said he hasn't talked with Highmark officials about the mall; he dealt with project managers for architectural and engineering firms it hired. They did not discuss the cost of the mall or its opening date, Kurpakus said.
Officials with Astorino could not be reached for comment.
No one mentioned Highmark's name during a Monroeville Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday. Instead, planners referred to a “client” when questioning Astorino architect David Mickey about the ambulatory surgical center and medical offices that Highmark would build along Monroeville Boulevard. The site plan documents list Osiris and Astorino as the applicants.
The commission agreed to recommend that Monroeville Council grant conditional approval of the plan on Oct. 9.
Highmark would renovate a former Syms clothing store at 4121 Monroeville Blvd. for the surgical center and medical offices — less than a half-mile from the new UPMC East hospital and West Penn Allegheny's Forbes Regional Hospital.
At an office park next door, UPMC operates a Children's Hospital express care office and specialty services practice, a UPMC Behavioral Health office and a Magee Womancare Associates imaging center.
“I think any competition is good for the consumer,” said planning commission Chairman Bob Williams.
Highmark would renovate about half of the building in the first of two phases, completing that by mid- to late 2013, said Paul Hugus, Monroeville director of building and engineering. Ambulatory surgery centers offer elective surgeries, such as joint replacements or plastic surgery, not emergency services.
Highmark's companies haven't submitted site plans in Cranberry, Ross or South Strabane.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Martin’s homer rescues Pirates in 4-2 victory over Brewers
- PSU figures to flex its top-10 ground ranking Saturday
- Steelers notebook: Ravens DL fined for hit on Roethlisberger
- Sears to close store at Century III Mall in West Mifflin
- High school roundup: No. 9 North Allegheny takes down Upper St. Clair
- Inside the glass: Johnston’s opening practice grueling
- Police, bloodhound team locate former athletic director, Greensburg official
- City’s plan for Strip flummoxes vendors
- Brown’s 7 TDs power Apollo-Ridge past Shady Side Academy
- Judge lifts order blocking racy state emails
- Finally healthy, Letang looking to make his presence felt as a leader