An ambitious plan to revitalize downtown North East, the “Sustain North East Initiative,” was revealed Thursday combining the efforts of North East Borough, the North East Chamber of Commerce and Downtown North East, Inc. along with Mercyhurst University and other individuals and groups. The plan is seeking funds for a wide range of projects such as making structural improvements to many of the historic buildings in the downtown area, improving access to the second floors of those buildings for apartments or office space and other uses and helping to market the Mercyhurst property and preserve the historic buildings on the campus.
According to an article on GoErie:
The Sustain North East Initiative would invest an estimated $5 million into new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, street lights, trees and other plantings, security cameras and Wi-Fi. The improvements would affect east and west Main Street and Lake Street (Route 89) from the underpass south of downtown to Mercyhurst North East.
The article also states:
The borough of North East, the North East Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown North East Inc., a nonprofit that works on economic development and beautification projects, and other entities are attempting to raise $1.2 million locally for the Sustain North East plan. The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority has already approved a $400,000 loan for the local fundraising efforts.
Major funding for the plan is being requested from PA Revitalization Assistance Capital Program funds in Senate Bill 905, Mercyhurst has asked for $25 million and the Borough of North East has requested $10 million:
(ii) North East Borough
(A) Construction, acquisition, redevelopment, renovation, rehabilitation, infrastructure improvement and abatement of hazardous materials in support of the Sustain North East initiative
Project Allocation 10,000,000
(B) Acquisition, renovation, infrastructure, construction, abatement of hazardous materials and other related cost for Mercyhurst University campus
Project Allocation 25,000,000
A Mercyhurst spokesperson also stated:
“We are not seeking these funds for our use,” Morton said, “but to make them available for whomever would acquire the property in the future and seek to develop it for the economic revitalization of the region.”
The ideas presented in this plan would make a major and positive difference to the future of North East, however, funding in bills such as this is never assured until final passage. The bill is currently in committee.