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Our West Bayfront Celebrates Grand Opening of New Community Space

Published: 02/05/2021

Our West Bayfront's New Community Space on West 8th Street, Erie

Our West Bayfront's New Community Space on West 8th Street, Erie

Our West Bayfront celebrated the grand opening of its new “home” office inside a newly renovated historic building at 404-06 West Eighth St. during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at 1 p.m. today.

OWB will use a portion of the 5,000-square-foot building as office space to continue its work in the West Bayfront community as a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization. 

The building also features space to house a commercial business along with three residential apartments that are available for lease. The project included rehabilitating the building – which was originally constructed in 1882 – and restoring historical elements of the façade.

“This transformational project helps to achieve several community goals, including sparking reinvestment along West Eighth Street, which is the West Bayfront’s main neighborhood commercial district. The building includes a welcoming community space that can be used for neighborhood meetings, and it creates an accessible and visible presence for our office and efforts. We’re excited for the space to become a hub for neighborhood activity and events,” said Anna Frantz, executive director of Our West Bayfront.

The project was made possible thanks to several local and state partners. Critical funding was provided by the Erie Community Foundation, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority. Gannon University, Marquette Savings Bank, UPMC Health Plan, and Erie Insurance also provided key support for the project and to Our West Bayfront through the Department of Community and Economic Development Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program.

“This is a big day for Our West Bayfront and Gannon is proud to have helped make this happen,” said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., president of Gannon University. “We launched the OWB project just a few years ago to serve our neighbors and look forward to seeing what is accomplished by Anna and the team next here in this building and across Our West Bayfront.”

The development team included Roth Marz Partnership, project architect, and Steve Lewis Contracting Inc., the general contractor. A number of volunteers, including residents of the neighborhood, Gannon University students, National Civilian Community Corps members, and volunteers from The Cross – Urban Missions, assisted throughout the development process, which began in 2018.

“Individual volunteers and organizations played an enormous role in making this project possible. We are so grateful for their efforts and contributions because the project simply would not have been possible without them,” Frantz said.

“Having retired from the local construction industry, this project provided me a way to volunteer and advise OWB during the construction phase. I look forward to the next project.” said Tom Alderton, a neighborhood resident and key volunteer.

The project is a centerpiece of the Re-Store West Eighth Street initiative, an effort to attract and grow neighborhood-based small businesses to the West Eighth Street commercial area between Walnut and Myrtle streets. Additional projects currently underway include building repair grants for properties in this area, improving safety and security, and making the corridor more walkable.

The 404-06 W. Eighth Street project also connects major projects planned by Gannon University for properties it owns to the east, including South Hall, and the City of Erie’s “West Eighth Street Multimodal Project,” which will result in infrastructure improvements further west along West Eighth Street.

A recording of the live-streamed event can be found at Our West Bayfront’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ourwestbayfront

For more information, contact Anna Frantz, executive director of Our West Bayfront, at anna@ourwestbayfront.org or 814-871-7050.