One building at a time, Erie is getting a makeover. Other cities across Pennsylvania prove that some of the region's best assets lie in the buildings that are already standing. Experts say Erie's revitalization starts with historic preservation.
In a city like Erie, there's a wide range of buildings. According to Mark Tanenbaum, one is silver and the other is gold. "There's no sense tearing down something beautiful to put up something box-like in its place." And, he knows first-hand the benefits of preserving historic properties. PACA, Mark Tenenbaum's organization, took over a historic building on state street around five years ago. "And we started rehabbing it and of course ultimately we bought it and now we are almost at 100 percent occupancy."
Experts say projects like this one positively impact the whole region. ECGRA Grant Program Manager, Tom Maggio, tells us, "Historic rehabilitation creates jobs and sustains jobs and we need jobs." That's why state leaders urge businesses to take advantage of state and federal historic tax credits, providing the funding to get these buildings in good shape.
Scott Doyle of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office says, "It's an underutilized program that we think could spur and help and assist preservation efforts throughout the county".
Some local businesses are already benefitting from the programs. Maggio tells us, "Starbucks and Molly Branigans are a great example of successful tax credit projects."
And, advocates say, Erie's revitalization comes down to taking the old and making it new again. Lovell Place and the Erie Insurance Armory also taking advantage of these tax credit programs.
Tanenbaum tells us PACA doesn't qualify for the tax credits, but he is still a huge supporter of giving life back to historic buildings.
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