Hospital faces wrecking ball
NORRISTOWN — An unnamed developer has been selected to build senior housing and adult day care services at the vacant Montgomery Hospital on Powell Street, and plans for demolition of the hospital building are moving forward.
“We have an entity that has been selected for the redevelopment of the hospital site. The agreement of sale has not been signed, but it is being negotiated now,” said Rich Montalbano, the vice president and project executive of Einstein Healthcare Network (EHN), which owns the vacant building. “Their plan is they will demolish all the hospital buildings on the site and build senior housing and senior services like adult day care.”
A request for proposal for the demolition work went out last year and seven companies submitted proposals, he said. The demolition contract and a schedule
for demolition has not been finalized yet.
The medical office building and parking garage at 1330 Powell St. will remain.
The March 16 ending for a lease by AT&T Mobility to locate cell phone antennas on the roof of the seven-story hospital building prompted AT&T Mobility officials to ask the Norristown Zoning Hearing Board Tuesday night for variances to install a temporary cell on wheels (COW) and an 80-foot tower in the hospital parking lot. That hearing was continued to 7 p.m., Feb. 13.
Attorney Nicholas Cuce Jr., representing AT&T Mobility, said Einstein Medical Center Montgomery (EMCM) officials asked the wireless carrier and two other co-located wireless carriers to remove their equipment from the Montgomery Hospital roof by March 15. Montalbano said AT&T Mobility’s lease would end March 15, and four other cell phone carriers were co-located on the hospital roof.
Einstein Medical Center Montgomery merged with Montgomery Hospital several years ago and moved the hospital staff to the 146-bed, $350 million, hospital in East Norriton in September 2012. The building has remained vacant while a multi-disciplinary task force attempted to secure a viable developer to renovate and reuse the building. The Norristown Preservation Society has posted an online petition aimed at blocking the hospital building demolition on www.change.org.
“Save Historic Montgomery Hospital! Please don’t allow the destruction of one of Norristown’s architectural treasures,” the petition says. “Senior housing would be enhanced by using the existing 1934 structure instead of tearing it down.”
“The owner (Einstein) and developer (Elon of the Altman Group) have decided to demolish the hospital and replace it with four-story senior housing. The demolition of such a large building so close to houses and business is dangerous and unnecessary. The success of Rittenhouse School as senior apartments proves that such a conversion of a historic building is not only viable but profitable,” the petition states.
A proposal from Mission First for senior housing in the building, an adult day care service and a children’s day care, never got off the ground because it was dependent on state subsidies.
Montalbano said hospital officials “have been meeting with municipal officials” about the proposed senior housing project.
“It has been mentioned there would be retail but that has not been finalized yet,” Montalbano said. “All of that will have to ultimately be presented to Norristown.”
He was “not at liberty to talk about the senior housing details,” he said.
Norristown council President William Caldwell said the developer will have to secure a zoning change from the health care zone to allow residential housing for the elderly.
Montalbano emphasized that no schedule had been adopted for the demolition work. Municipal officials said they had not yet received applications for a demolition permit.
Follow Carl Rotenberg on Twitter @ CarlWriter.
The vacant Montgomery Hospital on Powell Street, Norristown, is slated for demolition under plans by the Einstein Health Care Network to build senior housing and adult day care services on the site.
Montgomery Hospital in Norristown.