Photo used by permission via Flickr's Creative Commons, by gam9551 / Flickr

A Forbes Avenue building long used for clinics by the Allegheny County Health Department is destined to become part of the University of Pittsburgh’s plan for an innovation district in Oakland.

The county will sell the building at 3441 Forbes Ave. to Pitt for $1.9 million if County Council approves requested legislation that County Executive Rich Fitzgerald submitted for its Dec. 5 meeting.

Pitt has formed 3441 F Street LLC to purchase and develop the property. The university submitted the only proposal in response to an August request for development of the site, according to Fitzgerald’s office.

The building was built in 1930 and has had multiple renovations over the years but no wholescale renovation, county spokeswoman Amie Downs says.

Pitt spokesman Joe Miksch says the proposed purchase “represents a tangible step in creating partnerships that will bring shape to a new innovation district, a place where great ideas can find pathways to reality and contribute to the economic growth of the community.”

The university won’t set a timeline for the building’s renovation and reuse until the sale is finalized, says Miksch. Creating an innovation district is a goal “shared by the University of Pittsburgh and many other partners working toward Pittsburgh’s future as a global city of innovation,” he says.

Home to universities, museums and world-class hospitals, Oakland has earned the reputation as Pittsburgh’s “second downtown,” says the Oakland Business Improvement District.

In a September report, the Brookings Institution examined Pittsburgh’s opportunity to become a world-class innovation city with a tech-based economy. The report suggested that city leaders grow innovation clusters, with Oakland as an obvious site because of research at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University.

Additionally, Port Authority has proposed building a $200 million bus rapid transit system on Forbes and Fifth avenues — critical corridors linking Downtown and Oakland. The BRT could extend to Squirrel Hill, Highland Park and Wilkinsburg to link many neighborhoods.

In January, the county moved its immunization clinic from 3441 Forbes Ave. to a Downtown building at 425 First Ave., and the nonprofit Prevention Point Pittsburgh moved its needle exchange program from 3441 Forbes last April.

The county still operates its sexually-transmitted disease clinic at the Oakland building five days a week, including one evening clinic, providing free and confidential examinations for diseases including HIV/AIDS.  That clinic will move to a location on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District in January, Downs says, though she could not disclose the address.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.