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Seton Hill University buys former Verizon call center in Greensburg

Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
A commercial building that housed Verizon office along College Ave. in Greensburg.

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Friday, April 25, 2014, 12:00 p.m.

Seton Hill University has purchased the former Verizon call center in Greensburg to expand programs, university officials said on Friday.

The university paid $1.1 million for the building and 2-acre parcel on Seton Hill Drive, according to the university and Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds records.

Parties closed on the deal on Wednesday. Seton Hill will use private financing to buy the property.

“Seton Hill University is proud to be a part of the Greensburg community, and we continue to look for ways we can better serve our students and the residents of this region,” said Bibiana Boerio, interim university president, in a statement.

“When this property in the city became available — just across College Avenue from our main hilltop campus — it provided us a great opportunity to enhance the university's entrance, expand the university's presence in downtown and create additional visibility and access for a number of Seton Hill programs and essential activities.”

The building will help alleviate space constraints and meet needs in areas such as entrepreneurial studies, women's business programs and Holocaust education, spokeswoman Jennifer Reeger said.

With its position central to both the main campus and the downtown campus, the structure may house an expanded Office of Campus Safety and Security.

University officials anticipate starting to use the building this fall.

Verizon put the building up for sale late last year after giving about 200 employees who worked there the option to work at various company offices in Allegheny County.

University officials are meeting with architects to plan renovations for the three-story, 58,165-square-foot building, with the work expected to be done in phases.

Early last decade, university officials and Greensburg leaders started working together as Seton Hill contemplated expansion. They viewed the partnership as helping the university to grow and bringing more commerce and an invigorated nightlife to the city.

“Boy, am I glad,” Greensburg Mayor Ron Silvis said of the property sale. “As soon as that for-sale sign went up, I was hoping Seton Hill would jump on that, and they did.”

City Administrator Sue Trout said she doesn't believe the purchase would result in any special needs for zoning or other changes related to land development. If Seton Hill put up a sign, that will probably require review by the Historic and Architectural Review Board, Trout said. Any significant structural changes to the building would require inspections by the code enforcement office, which issues building permits, she added.

“I'm excited that Seton Hill again partnered with the community,” Trout said.

In 2009, the university, helped by city officials, opened a $21 million arts center on West Otterman Street and Harrison Avenue. Excavation work started this month on the $14.5 million Dance and Visual Arts Center at the corner of West Otterman Street and College Avenue.

A state grant contributed more than $5 million toward the arts center. The state has earmarked up to $6 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program money for the dance and visual arts center.

City officials did not believe Seton Hill will have to pay property taxes to the city, Greensburg Salem School District or the county for the new building because of the university's tax-exempt status. More than 33 percent of buildings in the city are tax-exempt.

Verizon's taxes totaled almost $100,000 last year, according to county and city records. It paid $62,142.98 to the school district, $19,168.60 to the city and $16,061.83 to the county, or a total $97,373.41.

“We want Seton Hill as a partner in our community,” Silvis said. “They are tax-exempt, and we'll live with that. That (the building) will bring students downtown, like the visual arts center ... so that will help out.”

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

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