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Monroeville church to buy former YMCA building in Penn Hills

November 14, 2018

A Monroeville church is in talks to purchase the Penn Hills YMCA building on Frankstown Road.

The Rev. Lance Lecocq, a pastor at Monroeville Assembly of God who has eyed opening a branch in Penn Hills since April, expects to clinch the deal with the YMCA by early 2019. He declined to disclose a sale price.

Lecocq said the building will be transformed into a church.

“We will have worship services on Sunday morning and also on Saturday evening, as well as various ministries throughout the week,” Lecocq said in an email. “We are excited about some ideas we have in mind to open our doors to the members of the Penn Hills community.”

He said the church does not have plans to demolish any part of the building that has been a mainstay in the Penn Hills community for nearly six decades.

The facility and its property are assessed at $1.3 million, according to county real estate records.

Hanna Langholz Wilson Ellis listed the property in September for $1.8 million. The Pittsburgh-based real estate firm also listed two YMCA properties in Wilmerding and Coraopolis.

Pam Haley, a YMCA spokeswoman, confirmed the sale with the Monroeville Assembly of God but declined to comment on any specifics.

“The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh is committed to supporting the social and recreational needs of the Penn Hills, Wilmerding and Coraopolis communities, and is working diligently to find solutions that are fiscally responsible and sustainable,” she said.

Monroeville Assembly of God tried and failed to rezone a vacant property just down the street on Frankstown Road from commercial to residential in June. Council members said they didn’t want to lose out on tax revenue.

When that happened, Councilman John Petrucci and Planning Commissioner Brent Rambo said they took Lecocq around the municipality to show him other possible locations for his church.

“It wasn’t that we didn’t want his church here; we just didn’t want to take the prime real estate off the tax rolls,” Rambo said. “The YMCA was not on the tax rolls, so it’s not going to be a problem. We’re not losing anything; we’re actually gaining.”

Penn Hills residents and former YMCA members were outraged this summer when the organization announced the Y would shutter. Their main concern was losing programming for young and old.

Petrucci said he wanted to find a buyer for the property to keep the organization’s “integrity” in Penn Hills.

“And that’s what they’re going to do -- they’re going to keep the integrity with all the programs and also incorporate their programs,” he said.

The former YMCA building will house the Pentecostal Christian church’s fifth campus in the region. The church serves about 1,300 congregants at locations in Monroeville, Lower Burrell, Arnold and Forest Hills. It also operates Sheep Inc. Health Care Center, a free health care clinic, in Monroeville and Turtle Creek.

Lecocq did not discuss specific plans for the church’s outreach ministries. However, he said the playground equipment outside will remain.

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