St. Clair planning expansion

St. Clair Hospital is due to expand its facilities which includes another building to be constructed in the hospital’s adjacent parking across the street from N. Wren Way. photo/John Schisler

An expansion to St. Clair Hospital will not only allow the hospital to provide more services to patients, but it will make a dangerous intersection much safer for drivers and pedestrians.

The hospital plans to expand its Bower Hill Road campus with a large ambulatory care center. The project will tie into the existing facility and stretch out over what is now North Wren Drive. Preliminary plans call for the addition of operating rooms, outpatient facilities, physician offices and associated parking. To place it in your mind, if you are standing on Bower Hill Road looking at the hospital, the new center would be on the far left side of the campus, over what is currently road.

A project cost and exact timeline is not yet available. St. Clair officials have chosen not to comment on the project in its preliminary stages.

According to the presentation made to the planning board in October, hospital officials hope to build a seven-story addition with 184,000 square feet of patient services and 102,000 square feet of below-grade parking. Because of the steep topography, the building would be only four stories above grade. The fourth floor would be the lobby, same as in the existing hospital. Additional amenities proposed for the addition include a café, diagnostic suite, conference space and a rehabilitation center.

Chief Medical Officer  Emeritus Alan Yeasted told the planning board the hospital has had an increase in outpatients seeking services. But because the hospital has been renovated many times since it opened in 1954, the current configuration forces patients to wander through the hospital to get from parking to various service areas.

An  important benefit of the development is the reconfiguration of the Bower Hill Road intersection of Firwood Drive in Mt. Lebanon and North Wren Drive in Scott. Because Firwood and North Wren are not aligned, the dogleg can be confusing for drivers and pedestrians.

State Rep. Dan Miller announced in November that a $1.25 million state grant will help offset the $2.9 million project cost of realigning the roads to make the intersection safer. Those funds will come from the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program, which provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure safe transportation.

The hospital project is a complex one, in that it involves several parcels of land that the hospital owns and those parcels are located in Mt. Lebanon and in Scott Township. That means the hospital, in getting its municipal approvals, is going through both towns. So far, St. Clair has visited Mt. Lebanon for subdivision approvals, in an effort to combine all those parcels into one, and for land development approval, says Mt. Lebanon Planner Ian McMeans. In the months to come, St. Clair will wrap up approvals at the planning board level and seek approval from the municipal commission. It will do the same with Scott Township.

“It’s going well,” McMeans says of coordinating the project with both towns. “We’ve had a lot of inter-municipal cooperation so far.” McMeans says the project will be partially taxable and that Mt. Lebanon and Scott Township will need to work out an agreement with the hospital on how that will be structured.

St. Clair Hospital is Mt. Lebanon’s largest employer and a selling point for potential residents.