Insurer, state assist TRPIL's rehab of old YWCA

Gideon Bradshaw

UPMC’s health insurance company is giving $150,000 to a Washington nonprofit’s renovations of a nine-decade-old downtown building in exchange for state tax credits.

Transitional Paths to Independent Living, which is known by the acronym TRPIL, will use the award from UPMC Health Plan for work on the former YWCA building on West Maiden Street, which eventually will become the group’s headquarters.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development recently announced that TRPIL is receiving the money from the health plan – a for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit health care system – under the agency’s Neighborhood Assistance Program, which encourages businesses to invest in distressed areas. In turn, the insurer will receive $82,500 in tax credits from the state.

“There is a competition,” said Joann Naser, TRPIL director of development. “Not everybody is awarded the amount.”

TRPIL is an advocacy group for people with disabilities active throughout the region. It broke ground on the $9 million renovations of the Elizabethan Revival building in July 2017. The structure was built in 1928 and had been vacant for at least 12 years when TRPIL purchased it three years ago.

Scott Lammie, senior vice president for business development of UPMC Health Plan, said in a press release the insurer is “happy to support (TRPIL) so it can continue to provide its constituents with the best resources and services for independent living.”

Naser said the group is still looking for help in fulfilling its construction plans.

“We’re looking to receive some additional state funding,” she said. “We’re looking to private foundations, corporations, businesses and individuals for support.”

Making the building accessible for everyone is a priority for the group. A 5,000-square-foot addition for elevators and a safety area in the event of emergency has already been completed.

City officials halted the project in September after mold that could pose a danger to much of the 27,000-square-foot building was discovered. Naser said work to remediate the mold was wrapped up in early February.

“The air samples were taken and there was no mold determined and so the process was effective,” Naser said. “They are starting to install the drywall and elevator system, and progress is being made.”

Naser expected enough work to be finished to allow the group to move in later this year.

“I think for 80 percent of the renovations we should be moving in in late summer or early fall,” she said. “We plan to move in before it’s totally finished, but it’ll be functional for office space, the conference room areas and the direct care worker training center.”