By Jon Delano

BRADDOCK (KDKA) — The site of the former UPMC Braddock Hospital is now empty, but that’s changing soon.

“I am unveiling the specifics of a $20.3 million plan that addresses a number of Braddock’s needs,” Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato announced Wednesday.
Onorato said he was fulfilling a pledge to Braddock.

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“I thought it was important that the people of Braddock and the Mon Valley knew that just because I was leaving office that this wasn’t being forgotten.”

On the old hospital parking lot, Trek Development will start construction this summer of a flex-office building.

“This is the building — three stories — that will have commercial, retail, and other activities,” says Onorato.

Those other activities could include some health care facilities — but the project includes much more.

On one side of Holland Street, 24 one-, two-, and three-bedroom townhouses will be constructed and available for rent.

On the other side of the street, some 11 brand new single family homes will be available for sale in 2013.

Funding comes from state tax credits, $3 million in state capital dollars matched by UPMC, federal and county funds, and some private dollars.

Local Braddock officials hailed the announcement.

“It is impossible to overstate how profound an impact this will have on Braddock,” notes Braddock Mayor John Fetterman.

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“We have some good citizens in Braddock, good people, and it’s going to work,” adds Matthew Thomas, vice president of Braddock’s council.

The development will occur on a site that was once the scene of major protests when UPMC abruptly announced its closure.

The makeover couldn’t come soon enough.

“It’s been extremely tough,” says Jim Thompson, owner of the Comet News in Braddock. “Once the hospital left, it totally devastated the community again.”

On an empty hospital parking lot, Trek Development hopes to begin construction of a 26,000 square foot, $6 million flex office and retail building that could house some medical facilities.

Thompson just reopened his store across the street, and he’s optimistic.

“It would mean a tremendous amount of business coming into my store hopefully, and in addition, it’s something the community needs.”

“We’re very happy and very excited for what’s being proposed for that site there,” says Jesse Brown, Braddock council president.

And Trek insists it won’t pull a UPMC and leave Braddock.

“We are absolutely committed to the long haul,” says Bill Gatti, Trek’s president. “We’ve developed over 55 residential communities and commercial communities — and we continue to own and operate all of them. We’ve never sold any of them.”

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