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Allegheny County redevelopment authority eyes uses for Braddock hospital

Luis Fábregas
| Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009

The soon-to-close UPMC Braddock could be used to house urgent care services, an assisted living facility, doctors' offices or even an expansion of the existing YMCA branch in the building, officials with the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County said Tuesday.

A final recommendation should come from a consultant hired by the redevelopment authority, which voted to spend up to $50,000 to develop a plan to reuse the hospital. The consultant's work should be completed by the end of the year, about a month before the hospital's closing Jan. 31, officials said.

"We want to be prepared with a potential reuse plan," said Dennis Davin, the authority's executive director.

The closing of the 300,000-square-foot hospital has stirred controversy. Residents and community leaders have accused University of Pittsburgh Medical Center of abandoning one of the region's poorest neighborhoods.

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said the medical giant continues to work with community groups on the future of the building, but the planned January closing will not change.

UPMC has offered to donate the building to the community. If that happens, leaders need to figure out who will own, manage and maintain the building, said Mike Pehur, the redevelopment authority's project finance coordinator.

Community leaders have been meeting weekly with county officials to determine the best use for the building. The ideal solution would be for UPMC to remain as owner of the building but lease it to a group with the ability to pay overhead costs such as utilities, Pehur said.

"It's a tough market," Pehur said. "If someone takes over (the hospital), do they have the revenue to sustain the building?"

The county does not intend to take ownership of the building, Davin said, but County Executive Dan Onorato has said he is committed to continuing to invest money in Braddock and the surrounding communities.

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