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Demolition project at former Monsour Medical Center set to start in 30 days

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, 12:30 p.m.
A excavator has been moved onto the site of the former Monsour Medical Center along Route 30 in Jeannette.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
A excavator has been moved onto the site of the former Monsour Medical Center along Route 30 in Jeannette.

It's the beginning of the end for the former Monsour Medical Center.

Demolition of the landmark hospital with the cannister-shaped tower along Route 30 at the gateway to Jeannette could begin in December. By early spring, the structure will be gone.

Officials laid out that timeline Thursday after county commissioners awarded a nearly $1.1 million contract to remediate and tear down the abandoned hospital. It has sat vacant since 2006 after its former owners shuttered the doors following a series of failed state inspections.

“It means a very dangerous situation will be fixed, and it's going to open up an opportunity to fill up the tax rolls,” said Commissioner Charles Anderson. “This will take an eyesore down.”

After watching the facility deteriorate over a decade and attract trespassers, vandals and arsonists, county officials last year embarked on a $2 million project to tear it down and clear the site for redevelopment.

Commissioners hired Dore & Associates of Michigan, the lowest among 13 bidders, to remediate and demolish the building.

The $1,091,800 contract will be paid through grants from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Project and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Officials said work to clear asbestos and biological waste from the property will start in about 30 days.

“It's been more than a long time in coming,” said Jeannette Mayor Richard Jacobelli. “This is the only exposure we have to the Route 30 corridor.”

Monsour Medical Center, founded in the 1950s by the four Monsour brothers, all doctors, was privately owned for more than a half-century. When it was closed, the private board that then operated the facility walked away from it, leaving it to deteriorate.

Efforts to take over and redevelop the site were blocked for years as local banks and other lienholders fought over ownership. Last year, Westmoreland County's new land bank purchased the property at a tax sale for $15,172.

Officials put up a fence around the 6.4-acre site late last year after fires were set on the building's loading dock. The last lien on the property was resolved this summer, paving the way for the remediation and demolition.

“This is a very important step forward. I'm generally excited about what this means for the city of Jeannette,” said county Commissioner Ted Kopas.

Commissioner Tyler Courtney said the efforts to redevelop the Monsour site are part of the county's plan to eliminate blight.

“This is not the final chapter in this process. We have to get it back on the tax rolls,” Courtney said.

Those efforts already have started, said Jason Rigone, executive director of the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp.

“We're starting to market it now,” Rigone said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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