Residents: Apartments at former Memorial Hospital would 'destroy the neighborhood'
Neighbors who live near the former Memorial Hospital site have growing concerns over plans to turn the complex into luxury apartments, citing an increase in traffic and noise.
In July, Burkentine Builders Inc. filed an application seeking to rezone the hospital property at 325 S. Belmont St. for apartment/office use, according to a copy of the application filed with Spring Garden Township.
The apartment complex is planned to be at least four stories tall and contain 280 units. A clubhouse and pool are also included in the plans, said Tracie Keyser, a spokesperson for Burkentine Builders Inc.
Skeptics of the proposal, like Spring Garden resident Sandy Harberger, said adding that many units would disrupt the quiet neighborhood.
"We're all worried about what it's going to do to our houses," Harberger said. "We're stuck with this empty hospital, and now somebody wants to come in and destroy the neighborhood."
Harberger, who resides in the Elmwood neighborhood, said adding more apartments would only create more traffic in an area with 370 houses and few traffic lights.
"There's no way that 280 new households would produce less traffic than a small hospital with three floors," Harberger said. "I feel like we're not actually building luxury apartments, we're actually shoving as many apartments as we can."
A public hearing to review the application was slated in August, but the issue was tabled for September, Keyser confirmed.
Harberger and dozens of other Elmwood neighbors attended the August planning commission meeting to voice their opinions against the project.
Since then, she's printed out hundreds of flyers to make others in the area aware of the proposal.
Dina Conzone, a neighbor of Harberger, also agrees that the addition of 280 apartments would be a detriment to the area.
"The builders can't sweet talk me into thinking this would be a nice improvement to our neighborhood," Conzone said, adding that a park or nursing home would be a better fit for the former hospital space.
Spring Garden Township's Planning Commission's next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 21.
UPMC Memorial Hospital is now located at 1701 Innovation Drive in West Manchester Township.
The Belmont Street location closed on Aug. 19, 2019, the same day the new UPMC Memorial Hospital opened.
Burkentine Builders Inc. has not bought the Belmont Street site yet and is waiting for approval from the zoning board before moving forward with purchase and permitting, Keyser said.
"Everything is pending litigation at this point so we really cannot move forward with the process at this point," she added.
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