Governor Tom Wolf is touring Erie and declaring support for the city’s revitalization efforts, with part of a $16.5 million grant.
Wolf toured part of downtown with other state and local leaders. They started near Velocity Network’s new building in the 100 block of West 10th Street and made their way to UPMC Park.
He tells us that the new funding is meant for updates and improvements, saying, “My hope is that this helps push Erie, which is a phenomenal city, a great city, helps it as it revitalizes itself.”
The grants are being given for five projects. Among those projects are:
- $500,000 for the Elmwood Garden Living Community
- $1 million for a new medical arts facility at the Corry Memorial Hospital
- $2 million for the JMC Ice Arena
- $12 million for ErieEvents to upgrade UPMC Park
- $1 million to turn the Avalon Hotel into a DoubleTree
Wolf says, “600,000 people who go to the restaurants and bars, the hope is that they’ll buy things here in Erie and it really helps the economy.”
Officials tell us the DoubleTree renovation will include street-level retail, upgraded rooms, and a rooftop bar. Jessica Farbo, Food and Beverage Manager at the Avalon, says, “It’s going to be completely remodeled. You won’t even recognized the hotel any longer.”
Mayor Joe Schember says, “We don’t talk a lot about 10th Street, but that’s getting transformed, now. We’ve got the Erie Playhouse there. We’ve got VelocityNet remodeling one side of 10th. We’ve got Marquette doing the other side. And now, if we can get that Avalon to a world-class hotel, that’s going to be an incredible place to attract people downtown.”
Erie is even getting some brotherly love. State Representative Ed Neilson, from Philadelphia, says he’s an advocate for our region. “Yeah, we have major sports teams in Philadelphia, but without the support of the AAs, where would we be?”
Leaders say the impact of this region continues to be significant and they want to see it rebound.
The construction project at the Avalon should be finished by fall of next year.
And, major changes are coming to Erie’s minor league baseball stadium, as well as to Erie Insurance Arena. $12 million is headed to the home of the Erie Seawolves, as well as plans to connect the ballpark to the arena.
The money is expected to come in $3 million chunks over a four-year span; all part of the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. As a result, both the Otters and the SeaWolves ownership have verbally committed to keep their respective teams in Erie for at least the next decade.
For more from park officials and Wolf on the park changes, see the video below: