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Excela near deal for center in Unity

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Excela Health is close to a deal to acquire a 29-acre parcel off Route 30 in Unity Township, where the hospital system plans to build a three-story outpatient medical center between the Wal-Mart and Kmart stores, an official said Wednesday.

“We're close to an agreement. We're working on the final details,” said Michael D. Busch, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Excela Health.

Excela wants to build an outpatient care center that would place primary care physicians, specialists, rehabilitation and diagnostic services at one site. It already operates such a facility, Excela Square at Norwin, at the former Norwin Hills Shopping Center along Route 30 in North Huntingdon.

Colony of Unity L.P., a North Huntingdon partnership that owns the Unity property, hopes to reach an agreement with Excela within a month, said Donald Tarosky, a North Huntingdon attorney in partnership with attorney Joseph Spirer and Jared Cooper.

The health system likely is awaiting the necessary government and regulatory approvals for the medical facility before finalizing the agreement, Tarosky said.

If the project plans are approved within the next two months, Busch said, Excela hopes to begin construction in April and have it completed in mid-2014.

Excela cleared one hurdle toward government approval of the project Tuesday when the Unity Township Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to Excela's plans for the 100,000-square-foot Latrobe Ambulatory Care Center.

The outpatient care facility would be built facing Route 30, with most of the parking in the front of the building, said Stephen T. Buckeridge, senior vice president of development for Frauenshuh HealthCare Real Estate Solutions, a Minneapolis-based firm developing the site for Excela.

The planning commission focused on the access roads to the site. To enter the medical facility from Route 30, an access road will be built through what is now a vacant lot adjacent to Arnold Palmer Motors' dealership, said Bryan Clement, an engineer with H.F. Lenz Co. of Johnstown. Excela has an agreement with A.P.M. Realty, L.P. of Latrobe to build an access road, Clement said.

Another access road will connect the facility to Arnold Palmer Drive near the Springhill Suites by Marriott.

That access road will allow a connection to the Springhill Suites, Clement said.

The planning commission recommended that the township supervisors require four-way stop signs at the access road's intersection with Arnold Palmer Drive.

“It's a matter of public safety,” said Frank Novotny, planning commission member.

The planners recommended that lights be installed along the entrance from Arnold Palmer Drive to the facility.

Springhill Suites by Marriott has agreed to build a road connecting the motel, said Dan Schmitt, an engineer for the planning commission.

Excela will have to return to the planning commission in February to get a recommendation for final approval of its plans.

The Unity Township supervisors then would vote on whether to approve the site plan for the project.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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