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Braddock council approves hospital demolition planEdit

April 14, 2010 By Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://post-gazette.com/pg/10104/1050271-100.stm#ixzz0l4aBthKt

Braddock council unanimously approved a county proposal that calls for the demolition of the former UPMC Braddock building and the redevelopment of the site, ending a two-month deadlock in which council refused to vote on the issue because they disagreed with the plan.

Council members initially came out against the plan -- which is fully funded by UPMC donations and state and county dollars -- because they wanted the county to continue to search for a healthcare provider who might be interested in taking over the facility. UPMC Braddock was shuttered January 31 in spite of vociferous opposition from the community and public officials. Mayor John Fetterman, who supported it from the beginning, said the council risked losing $3 million in state redevelopment funds had it held out any longer.

Tuesday night's decision came just 12 days after Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Gene Strassburger threw out a lawsuit filed by community members and activists against the hospital giant that implored UPMC to keep the facility open. Judge Strassburger said in his ruling that UPMC never committed to keeping the hospital open. The judge also threw out a suit from community members against the county challenging its facilitating of low-interest bonds for UPMC and ruled they had no grounds to challenge UPMC's tax-exempt.

Council members could not be reached late last night.

The plan calls for UPMC to pay for demolition of the building -- estimated at around $5 million. UPMC would also donate $3 million to the county for redevelopment and the state would match the county's redevelopment funds, bringing the total to $6 million. Finally, UPMC would give $90,000 a year to the borough for five years as payment in lieu of wage taxes that had been paid by UPMC employees who lived in the borough.

Mr. Fetterman said he hopes that the borough council would also repeal the one-mill tax levy they passed at the beginning of the year to make up for gap in funds the departure of the hospital would leave.

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