UPMC St. Margaret seeks approval for expansion plan
PITTSBURGH: Administrators from UPMC St. Margaret will go before Pittsburgh City Council next week seeking approval of a long-range master plan for possible expansion.
Council will hear the hospital’s proposal during its meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. If approved, the plan would set in place a framework for potential construction of a 500-space parking garage and a medical office complex.
But, the proposal first was subject to recommendations by Aspinwall Council, which worried that hi-rise construction would obstruct the flavor of the adjacent borough residential area. The hospital campus is located within the City of Pittsburgh’s borders but one of those borders abuts the borough residential area along Delafield Avenue.
Borough council first met with hospital officials in April to voice concerns over dwindling green space and congestion at the site. Aspinwall officials sought assurance by hospital supervisors that the residential feel would not be disturbed for residents who live along Delafield Avenue.
Councilman Joe Noro worried in particular that the hospital was moving away from its plan to maintain open space and that it is trying to serve more people than it was originally intended to serve. Mainly, Noro wanted Aspinwall to have early input on the hospital’s master plan because once approved, he feared that construction would potentially run amok.
It seems that the early negotiations were satisfactory for Noro and other council members.
“We tried to make all the concessions necessary to make Aspinwall residents comfortable with the plan,” said hospital spokeswoman Mary Josefoski.
The most significant change to stem from discussions was to exchange the locations of a proposed parking garage and medical office building. If built, the office building would now sit closer to Delafield Avenue in an area originally intended for the parking garage.
“The impact would be lessened, if it’s ever built, for residents on Delafield,” Josefoski said.
The other major victory for borough council was the height of the proposed structures. The following guidelines have been tentatively agreed upon by both sides:
That agreement would allow for either a two-tiered garage that is 25 feet on the side closest to Delafield and 35 feet high on the other side, or a 35-foot parking garage that is 100 feet or more from the street. As first proposed, the facility was to be built about 60 feet from Delafield Avenue and as high as 30 feet — with borough council requesting that the hospital lower the parking structure a half-story into the ground. The new provisions will be easier to accommodate and seem to be amenable to both the borough and the hospital.
“We are asking them just to be more considerate of Aspinwall,” said Councilman Joe Giuffre. “We would like them to give our residents consideration just as if they were residents of the city.”
Giuffre said that while council has no jurisdiction over Pittsburgh zoning laws, council members wanted consideration given to the special circumstance.
“We got a lot of support from city council,” Giuffre said. “We’re pleased with the outcome.”
The hospital already was granted approval on its plan from the city’s planning commission. Josefoski said that Pittsburgh Council’s approval of the master plan is a matter of protocol that went hand-in-hand with the hospital’s submission to the city of a long-term growth plan. There is no immediate work planned, she said.