The hills were alive with the sound of heavy machinery, squishing shoes and ceremonial voices and shovels.
Meadows Landing landed, sort of, Monday morning with the official groundbreaking for Washington Health System’s outpatient center, the first project to be undertaken on the 204-acre expanse in South Strabane Township.
The new home for the Washington Area Teachers Federal Credit Union and a GetGo convenience store/gasoline station also have been approved for the mixed-use Meadows Landing.
“We will have a first-class facility that will serve 6,000 surgical patients every year,” Gary Weinstein, chief executive officer for Washington Health System, said of the two-story medical building, which will feature the outpatient center, Tri-State Surgery Center and offices. It will be on the northern part of the property, just off Route 19 southbound.
Hal Kestler of Meadows Landing Associates, one of the developers, said he believes construction will begin “this week or next.” Project consultant Steve Vargosko, of West Mifflin-based MST Healthcare, anticipates a fall 2014 opening.
Graziano Construction and Development Co. of O’Hara Township is doing the work.
Tri-State Surgery and the offices of Washington Ear Nose & Throat will be relocating to a more spacious facility than their current home on Leonard Avenue, which opened in 2004. The surgery center will occupy about 19,000 of the 51,000 square feet of the project, which also will have the WHS Women’s Diagnostic Center; offices of Southwestern Gastroenterology Oncology Associates; Keystone Anesthesia Associates; and other physicians’ offices that have not been determined.
Harmony Medical Holdings, a group headed by Dr. Howard Goldberg, raised $2.47 million for the relocations and expansion. Washington Health System will be 25 percent minority owner of the project.
“He, more than anyone else, has guided this proecject,” Weinstein said of Goldberg.
Monday’s groundbreaking was the beginning of the end of a long, laborious process for Kestler and fellow Mt. Lebanon attorney Gerald Cipriani. They purchased the hillside property from Reservation Development Corp. in 2006, formed Meadows Landing Associates, then started formulating plans for the development.
“We had a bunch of people lined up for the fall of 2008, when the economy went bad,” said Kestler, whose two-man group lost those wary tenants. “We had to weather that storm. Development has snags and snafus.”
This was a Noah-like storm that, instead of 40 days and nights, lasted four years. But once construction resumed full bore in the spring, it has proceeded virtually nonstop, leveling off a number of the lots. About 700,000 cubic yards of earth have been moved at Meadows Landing.
“A year ago, this was a mountain,” Goldberg said. “With hard work, we have flat land to put up a building.”
Other projects are ahead. GetGo will get going slightly north of the medical facility, and the credit union to the north of that. And Kestler said a strip mall, with 35,000 square feet of space, is likely.
“We may have a restaurant or two, some retail, some offices,” he said, adding that no leases have been signed, but could be within 30 to 60 days.
“There are other projects that I’m not at liberty to talk about right now,” Kestler said.
At Meadows Landing now, talk is turning into action.