UPMC Northwest acquiring more land for hospital
The Derrick, 9/28/01

A special thank you goes out to The Derrick for allowing this story to be posted.

Outline of UPMC Northwest medical Center Property in red.  For geographical reference note Parker Furniture in bottom right of photo.

Tests and surveys to ready a Cranberry Township site for a new UPMC Northwest hospital are nearly completed. This aerial view shows the outline of property earmarked for the $65 million health facility. The Parker Furniture Store building is visible in the foreground (along Route 257) at the far right. 84 Lumber is shown in the middle with the Seneca Lanes bowling alley building on the left. The main access to the new hospital will be from Route 257.

Property for the new $65 million UPMC Northwest hospital in Cranberry Township is swelling as more private tracts are acquired.

The hospital now has an additional 21 acres to add to the 123 acres it already owns, taking the total acreage for the new $65 million hospital to 144. More land was acquired as a way to provide direct access to Route 257, Northwest CEO Neil Todhunter said.

"That extra 21 acres came from five separate properties. We have all we need and I don't expect any more purchases," Todhunter said.

Cranberry Township owns a 99-acre tract adjacent to the hospital land. There are no plans currently to do anything with that vacant parcel except extend sewage and water services from it to the new hospital, according to Frank Pankratz, secretary-treasurer for the township.

A battery of tests and surveys, ranging from archaeological issues to wetlands, has been under way at the hospital site since shortly after Northwest announced in early August it was switching the location from Reno in Sugarcreek Borough to Cranberry Township. The findings have uncovered no problems, Todhunter said.

There is an area of wetlands located at the rear of the property, but tests by Fahringer, McCartey & Grey Inc., the civil engineering firm hired for the hospital project, show they will have "minimal impact" on the project. There are no endangered wildlife, environmental and historical issues, either, according to the engineering firm.

"There had been conjecture that we would run into things, into problems, but that has not happened. We're making real progress at the site," Todhunter said.

Up next is completion of a construction document, one that outlines what the new hospital will look like and what services it will offer. It should be in hand by the end of October and, once approved by the Pittsburgh-based UPMC and Northwest Health System, will signal the official merger of the two health organizations.

Northwest would become the 16th hospital in the sprawling UPMC health care system and the furthest one north of the Pittsburgh complex.

Groundbreaking ceremonies at the Cranberry property are being tentatively pegged for November. The 110-bed hospital will be completed within three years.

Meanwhile, Cranberry Township officials are merely watching and waiting, said Pankratz, because not a lot has to be done to accommodate the new health care facility. Municipal water and sewage services can be easily extended to the site, the widening of Route 257 to a three-lane road is already in the design stage under PennDOT's direction, and a plan to erect a traffic light on Route 257 is in the works.

"We'll do what they need once the hospital project is started. Money is not an issue here because we think we are looking at maybe $10,000 to $12,000 to do all this. We're just happy they're coming here," Pankratz said.