Reimagine Erie’s relationship with its waterfront

Erie benefits from an extended waterfront, which has provided a variety of benefits over its history. In the 18th century, Erie’s port was a major boon to its salt trade. Today, the waterfront remains a considerable asset with recreational and commercial uses. Erie has made several investments in its port in recent years, including opening the Convention Center, several waterfront hotels, and a few residential properties. Erie can build upon this momentum by leveraging existing funding opportunities to make further improvements, including remediating major sites along the waterfront, creating connections to the downtown, and improving resilience. Beyond these investments, Erie can make more transformational changes to the layout and use of its waterfront by learning from leading global examples in Denmark and the Netherlands. In doing so, Erie can fully leverage this truly unique asset for the third decade of the 21st century and become a national example for creative, sustainable, and productive waterfront use.

5.1: Complete Bayfront Place mixed-use development

Investment Overview:
The goal of the Bayfront Place Development Plan is to create a comprehensive, long-range plan intended to guide growth and development of the site. The Development Plan reflects the highest and best use of the site creating an exceptional, year-round amenity with quality public spaces, mixed-use buildings and tax generating properties. The plan for Bayfront Place includes new waterfront housing, a marketplace, an office park, several renovated streets (Main and Sassafrass), new open spaces, and a pedestrian bridge from the West Bayfront. Many of the projects within Bayfront place are already in development, requiring only limited additional support to bring this investment over the finish line.

Goals and Benefits:

  • New waterfront housing

  • New marketplace for fresh food and produce

  • New waterfront office space

  • Pedestrian connection to the waterfront from the West Bayfront

Cost, Sources, and Uses:
Total cost: $207,500,000

$200M - Mixed-use developments 
$3.5M - Parking deck addition
$2M - Bayfront Place infrastructure (utilities / roads) 
$2M - Seawall improvements -

Private investment, RCAP, City ARPA funds, PennDot

Progress and Next Steps:

  • Complete negotiations for specific sites with developers

  • Select developers for specific sites

  • Secure additional funding for infrastructure improvements, parking additions

5.2: Complete Harbor Place Development

Investment Overview:
Harbor Place is a dynamic, mixed-use development plan that will encompass 12 acres of Erie’s waterfront. It will be built in phases and will eventually include corporate offices, two hotels, retail shops, parking garages, an outdoor ice-skating rink, condominiums, and apartments. Phase 1 of the project is set to include the construction of an eight-story Hampton Inn & Suites with a rooftop bar & event space. Phase 2 will dawn a mixed-use office building with the first floor dedicated to retail.

Goals and Benefits:
Create spaces for a variety of uses (recreational, residential, commercial) for Erie residents and visitors to interact with the waterfront.

Cost, Sources, and Uses:
Total cost: $150,000,000 (estimate)


Progress and Next Steps:

Progress to Date:
Complete Hampton Inn and Oliver’s Rooftop (Phase 1)

Next Steps:
Complete Phase 2

5.3: Begin implementation of Bayfront Parkway Central Corridor Project, including high-quality pedestrian bridges

Investment Overview:

As Downtown Erie continues to undergo a revitalization and the Bayfront expands its commercial, residential, and recreationaluses, the Bayfront Parkway is expected to face increased use as residents and tourists visit these places. In order to accommodate both increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic and connect these two spaces, pedestrian bridges over the Parkway will create important pedestrian connections. Two proposed bridges, at Holland St. and Sassafrass St. will connect the Bayfront and Downtown along convenient routes and allow all residents access the Parkway from either side of State Street. Additional passages over or across the Parkway to the east and west will be needed to increase access from the East and West Bayfront and increase use of the waterfront. The plans for these bridges, from the Bayfront Parkway Central Corridor Project, will also improve pedestrian and biker safety and accessibility. 

Goals and Benefits:

  • Increase commercial and recreational activity Downtown and in the Bayfront
  • Reduce traffic and congestion along Bayfront Parkway and in both neighborhoods
  • Increase quality of life for residents of downtown, East and West Bayfront

5.4: Invest in resilience improvements along waterfront

Investment Overview:

As Erie invests further into revitalizing its waterfront, the health, sustainability, and resiliency of the waterfront becomes increasingly important to withstand, recover, from and adapt to major disturbances. Risks from lake level fluctuations, changing precipitation patters, coastal storms, agricultural or stormwater runoff, and invasive species threaten the feasibility of new residential, commercial, and recreational uses of Erie’s prized waterfront. Some of these improvements are known (e.g. stormwater improvement), others still need to be studied in greater detail (e.g., modernization of dock walls). Erie has already identified 5 stormwater improvement projects that are ”shovel-ready;” other upgrades (e.g., modernization of dock walls) will require more research and planning.

Goals and Benefits:

  • Protect new developmentsand spaces along waterfront
  • Improve resilience against climate change for the coming decades
  • Repair aging or inadequate dock walls that can threaten health of waterfront

Cost, Sources, and Uses:
Total cost: $13M+


$3M –SE Erie Stormwater

$5.2M -Garrison Run Stormwater

$1.1M –Lower Myrtle Storm Sewer

$80k –SassafrassStormwater

$6.5M –Mill Creek Channel


TBD –Other

Progress and Next Steps:

Secure state and other funding for stormwater repair

2.Commission study to determine type and severity of threats to Erie’s waterfront

3.Secure funding for resilience projects

5.5: Establish World Class Waterfront Task Force

Investment Overview:

Erie is fortunate to have its downtown border Presque Isle Bay. Such a waterfront is a visual gem and an opportunity to create desirable residential, commercial, and recreational uses. However, much of Erie’s waterfront is undeveloped or retains old properties and uses from the 20thor 19thcenturies. A new world-class waterfront task force would inspire and challenge local decision-makers to explore, understand, and prioritize transformational opportunities for the waterfront. The task force would participate in a series of visioning workshops, research leading examples from around the world, and create an action plan with recommendations by February 2023.

Goals and Benefits:

In addition to increasing property values, creating new recreational activities and increasing quality of life, this project could create a completely different trajectory for Erie’s waterfront that would make it a national icon.

5.6: Remediate Coke Factory property (more organizing required)

Investment Overview:

The old Erie Coke plant sits on one of the most prime waterfront properties in Erie. This property contains significant environmental hazards and requires considerable capital to cleanup, demolish, and remediate. Given the high cost of this remediation, Erie may not have another chance to secure funding to demolish the factory and remediate the property for new uses. Without remediation of this property, it is difficult to imagine Erie having a truly world-class waterfront. This project would raise a wide variety of state, federal, and local funds to remediate the property for new use. While the property is acquired and prepped, stakeholders across Erie would determine its new use.

Goals and Benefits:

Remediating this site would reduce environmental hazards and blight as well as increase quality of life by creating new uses for the waterfront. It’s considerable size has vast potential to reshape Erie’s waterfront.