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
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."