Downtown Erie sees continued revival with Assistance from town dollars

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January 10, 2018

Old Town Erie sales tax earnings

Erie’s downtown, for a long time an extension of this area’s sleepy Old Town district, is located in the middle of a cultural and economical revival of sorts — one which could soon mirror the resurgence found in the likes of Denver’s trendier neighborhoods.

The city approved two urban renewal authority projects to the tune of about $1.5 million in tax-increment funding in early December, but the revitalization of this district has been put in motion years before that, city officials and local small business owners say.

The city has instilled modern shops along the town’s Main and Briggs streets.

The result has made a district which appeals to event planners and neighborhood fittings that is paid off in sales tax revenue.

“We believe that a number of this downtown area — historical downtown Erie — has truly been a neighborhood aspiration for a long time,” Erie spokeswoman Katie Hansen said.

According to city fund accounts, sales tax earnings in the Old Town district has probably more than tripled since 2011.

Sales tax earnings jumped 105 percentage in downtown Erie by 2014 to 2015, when compared with a townwide sales tax growth of almost 11 percent.

Numbers for the downtown district’s 2017 numbers aren’t readily available, but sales tax earnings for the city overall is up 25 percent in contrast with 2016, officials say, including that forecasts for 2018 forecast a 8% increase over this year’s totals.

“Downtown is certainly an important factor when looking at the earnings tax earnings to the town,” Hansen explained.

City officials credit the boom from downtown business to summer events plus a couple of new businesses that set down roots in the district within the last few years.

This past year, officials stated the town’s partnership with Echo Brewing Company to reinvent the former fire station at 600 Briggs St. launched the initial success.

The brewery opened in the fall of 2014.

A bevy of additional businesses opened downtown at 2015, such as Beauty Blossom Med Spa, Cristos Coffee, Citywide Home Loans, Rachel Hinman Financial, SnowBee PC and also NOSH sandwich shop.

Erie’s farm-to-table restaurant, 24 Carrot Bistro, opened on Briggs Street in 2015 as well.

“Because 2013,” Hansen said, ” city and Chamber of Commerce have engaged in boosting downtown Erie. We’ve worked hard to program events and really drive people down there since we need it for a vibrant, family friendly destination.”

Foot traffic downtown increased dramatically in 2015 after the Erie Farmers’ Market’s movement to Wells Street, officials explained.

A neighborhood survey sent out to residents in 2015 and again this past summer exemplified a need for more connectivity and shopping opportunities downtown as a way to diversify the town’s sales tax base, Hansen said.

“All of these bits drive why we’re continuing to encourage growth downtown,” she explained.

The analysis is expected to last during the upcoming few years, officials say; the city has dropped on two large scale face-lift projects from the corridor.

The town’s urban renewal authority approved agreements with Echo Brewing Cask and Barrel and D and H Erie LLC to encourage the building of more than 30,000 square feet of new space in the next several years.

“All these are the sorts of projects we had expected in helping when we embraced the Urban Renewal Plan back in 2013,” Erie Town Administrator A.J. Krieger explained. “Over the life of these projects, we’ll be able to demonstrate that we’ve significantly enhanced downtown’s appeal and done precisely what the urban-renewal power is presumed to do — that is having eliminated some blight and substituted it with new and operational buildings.”

Echo Brewing will probably develop an open marketplace concept at the brewpub like the Source in Denver’s River North Art District. The extra 14,000 square feet will incorporate a new brewing area, meeting/event space along with a “marketplace” with food stalls, retail and office space, according to Echo’s co-owner, Katy Dukes.

Dukes said they’re hoping to break ground on the new digs in the summer.

“There wasn’t a lot going on when we first moved in,” Dukes said. “There have been half as many businesses, half as many activities. Now, we’ve got foot traffic from the farmers market and also we’ve got a great deal of individuals who bike downtown.

“It’s become a destination from individuals all over from surrounding communities”

Malloy holds back state funds to cities and Cities

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January 7, 2018

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HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is holding back funding to state agencies and municipalities to pay an estimated $881.6 million gap constructed into the newly handed, two-year $41.3 billion budget. The Democrat’s fiscal office announced Friday that the bulk of the 881.

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