By Tim Schooley – Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times
May 4, 2021, 9:50am EDT
CBL Properties has landed a major new draw likely to bring in an influx of visitors to Monroeville Mall.
Not to shop, but to get health care.
The General Services Administration has awarded Milwaukee-based Summit Smith Development a long-term lease to build a new 64,000-square-foot outpatient clinic for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to be built on a 6.5-acre site on an eastern edge lot of Monroeville Mall, according to an announcement by JLL.
Following a trend of hospital systems developing new facilities in the suburbs to get closer to their patients, the new facility is expected to be easily accessible to the region’s population of veterans who live in the eastern suburbs, reducing their need to drive into the city for care.
With government bidding information online putting the budget for the project at more than $91 million, it’s expected to be a state-of-the-art facility providing primary and specialty outpatient care along with providing space for VA departments for physical therapy and an eye clinic among its various uses.
Sean Roberts, Vice President of Summit Smith Development who lives in South Fayette, sounded eager to bring a project to his hometown in a prepared statement, working for a firm that has developed other VA facilities throughout the country:
“As a resident of the Pittsburgh area, I am excited to combine our health care expertise with this premier location to improve access to high quality outpatient health care for the region’s veteran community.”
Construction is expected to begin in the fall of this year for a project that will need to get its local approvals for what is expected to be considered an approved use for the site.
Summit Smith and JLL expect the proximity to the mall and its mix of shops and restaurants will appeal to the facility’s patients and employees.
Jared Imperatore, JLL vice president of retail brokerage who represented the deal and has also worked with Allegheny Health Network on its suburban micro hospital expansions, indicated the project has met the approval of the mall’s retail anchors.
In a pandemic-altered business environment that’s done a lot of damage to regional shopping malls, the new VA facility is one of the most conspicuous examples yet of local malls recruiting in non-retail uses.
Chattanooga-based CBL, which opened a new casino in its Westmoreland Mall property last year, filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors last year and in March announced a full agreement to restructure its debts with its various lenders and note holders.
Imperatore, whose involvement in the deal reminded him of visiting his Navy veteran grandfather at the VA, expects the project will be a strong addition to the mall complex, based on Summit Smith’s experience developing nine other VA outpatient facilities.
“With their longstanding experience working with the VA, the new outpatient center will be an excellent facility for veterans looking for first-class care in the Greater Pittsburgh region,” he said.
The new facility is expected to be occupied and opened to the public in early 2024.