Purchase of Vacant Lots Bolsters West Bayfront Revitalization Efforts

Posted: December 8, 2017

The revitalization of Erie's lower west side through a partnership including Our West Bayfront

(OWB) is continuing through the purchase of two vacant parcels of land on West Second Street. 

Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS) purchased the properties at 419 and 425 West Second St. using funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) this week in consultation with Our West Bayfront, a nonprofit organization that is working with neighbors and community partners to address blight, enhance safety and security, and transform public spaces in the lower west side. 

HANDS is expected to begin construction of a new, single-family affordable home on each site in the spring utilizing private and federal funding made available through the City of Erie.

The project is only the latest in a series of improvements in the area around Bayview Park, West Second and Cherry Streets, and the Martin Luther King Center, 312 Chestnut Street. Our West Bayfront has spearheaded sidewalk repairs, and is working on projects that will improve pedestrian lighting and provide security cameras. The organization also offers grants or materials and volunteer support to property owners to assist in home rehabilitation and improvement projects and is also in the final stages of developing an improvement plan for Bayview Park. 

Funding for the OWB projects was provided by the Erie Community Foundation, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, the Susan Hirt Hagen Fund for Transformational Philanthropy, and through Neighborhood Assistance Program partners UPMC Health Plan, Marquette Savings Bank, and Erie Insurance. 

"The commitment of HANDS to provide high-quality affordable housing in this neighborhood will build on collaborative efforts to revitalize the West Bayfront block by block. Their investment is yet another demonstration of how the community is coming together to improve the places that matter to our City through investments in housing, infrastructure and public spaces," said Anna Frantz, executive director of Our West Bayfront.  

Our West Bayfront (OWB) is a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization created in 2014 by interested residents and community partners from Erie's West Bayfront neighborhoods with support provided by Gannon University.  OWB is guided by the West Bayfront Community Plan, completed in 2016, which identifies a range of strategies to build a better Bayfront and is based on extensive input from neighborhood residents and community members.  The 843-acre area served by OWB is bounded by the Bayfront Connector to the west, West 12th Street to the south, Sassafras Street to the east and Presque Isle Bay to the north, and is home to more than 13,000 residents.  

Charles Scalise, president and chief executive of HANDS, said his organization is proud to be a part of the area's transformation with Our West Bayfront. 

"HANDS has been re-investing in the Our West Bayfront Neighborhood for over 50 years and is pleased to renew its commitment to continuing our efforts," Scalise said. "We will continue to develop affordable housing and participating in community planning while supporting the Our West Bayfront Organization in their lead role."

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