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UPMC, Pens nix Cranberry Woods site for sports medicine complex

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 5:27 p.m.

UPMC and the Penguins have decided to put their sports medicine complex at the intersection of Interstate 79 and Route 228 in Cranberry and not at the often-discussed Village of Cranberry Woods site, officials said Tuesday.

The Penguins and UPMC last week signed a letter of intent with developer Gary Sippel for nearly 13 acres of land about a half mile north of the Village of Cranberry Woods site, also along Route 228, owned by Creative Real Estate Development. Creative owner Donald Rodgers could not be reached for comment.

UPMC and Pens officials said they hope the nearly $70 million UPMC Lemieux Sports complex, featuring two ice rinks, will be open by July 2015.

“This (Sippel) site was a much better site for us,” Penguins chief operating officer Travis Williams said. “There wasn't anything bad about the Cranberry Woods site. The (Sippel) site is just better all around.”

Albert Wright Jr., who oversees UPMC's sports medicine programs as vice president of operations at UPMC Presbyterian, acknowledged that “the topography of the Cranberry Woods project definitely makes it more difficult to build than on the Sippel site.”

Officials had been looking at both sites for months, he said, and the Sippel property “made a little more sense to us.” It also will give the project better visibility and accessibility, Williams said.

Essentials of the project, a 190,000-square-foot building for hockey performance programs and hockey-related injury treatment and practice facilities for the Penguins, haven't changed, Williams and Wright said.

As late as July 1, Rogers' development company had been touting the UPMC-Pens project as part of a 57-acre Cranberry Woods development.

The company that day submitted master plans to the township planning advisory committee containing the sports complex as part of Cranberry Woods.

The Penguins and UPMC had been working separately with Rogers and Sippel, and all parties knew that both sites were in play, Williams said.

Officials will proceed with permitting from the township and hope to have grading and other site approvals in the fall, with construction starting in March, he said.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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