Downtown Erie, like many rust belt cities, has for decades witnessed the loss of commercial and residential investment to nearby suburban communities. Early efforts to compete with suburban forces involved mall-like cosmetic makeovers to some of the downtown’s historic buildings and the demotion of others to create large surface parking lots. The resulting destruction of the downtown’s historic urban fabric further harmed its ability to successfully attract residential
and business tenants.
In recent years, public and private investments in Downtown
Erie — resulting in a new waterfront Convention Center, a
growing University, attractive museums and performing arts
venues and a successful ballpark and hockey arena – have begun the process of downtown revival. To guide future revitalization efforts, the Erie Downtown Improvement District, the Erie Redevelopment Authority and the City of Erie, recently joined forces to develop a master plan.
The Erie Downtown Master Plan, developed by Urban Partners and Kise Straw & Kolodner, provides a framework for rebuilding the 70-block downtown area as an active residential and commercial center, while enhancing
its role as the region’s premier office district. Our work included retail, office and housing market analysis, economic development analysis, and recommendations on development strategies and implementation. The resulting strategy emphasized renovation of loft buildings for mixed use, new housing development, office development, and retail expansion in four concentrated areas of the Downtown.
Since completion of the plan, the City has moved forward on many of our recommendations. A key redevelopment project is the reuse of the Mercantile Building funded in part through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s Mixed Use Facility Financing Initiative (MUFFI). Urban Partners prepared the market analysis for that MUFFI application. Additionally, an intense design charrette has outlined the first $55 million of development in the vicinity of Griswold Park and Plaza.
See also, our subsequent Market Analysis for Erie Downtown