Transformation Underway in Our West Bayfront

The West Bayfront neighborhood has been called Erie’s “greatest residential asset” by city planners. Residents and organizations, led by Gannon University, have been working for several years to capitalize on what the district has to offer, and in turn help to shape the direction of the City of Erie.

Like other urban universities, Gannon, through the Erie-GAINS initiative partnered with neighborhood residents, employees and community partners, including Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center to form Our West Bayfront (OWB), a collaboration dedicated to improving the quality of life in the area.

“I’m looking forward to building on the work done over the last few years by residents and Gannon University, and to contributing to the revitalization of the West Bayfront neighborhoods.”

With a footprint that is home to roughly 13,000 residents and includes nearly 4,500 structures, the work ahead will take time, resources and a network of community partners. 

Following the appointment of Anna Frantz as its first executive director, and with an initial investment of $1.6 million from community partners including Gannon University, Marquette Savings Bank, UPMC Healthplan and Erie Insurance, OWB’s work has been launched. 

See the press conference announcing the appointment of Anna Frantz as the first executive director and an initial investment of $1.6 million from community partners

Frantz brings impressive credentials to the task. She came to OWB from Erie’s Emerge 2040 initiative, a public-private partnership that she served as executive director. Before that position, she served for eight years in the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development where she worked to improve housing for thousands of low-income New Yorkers.

“This is an exciting time for Erie and for the West Bayfront,” Frantz said. “I’m looking forward to building on the work done over the last few years by residents and Gannon University, and to contributing to the revitalization of the West Bayfront neighborhoods.” 

A $1.6 million initial investment was made to Our West Bayfront on behalf of community partners including Erie Insurance, Gannon University, Marquette Savings Bank and UPMC Healthplan.

OWB’s goals include addressing blight, improving housing quality, enhancing safety and security and transforming public spaces.

Its initial focus is on housing efforts and infrastructure improvements in the northeast quadrant of the district, where access to the waterfront, downtown and to Gannon’s campus creates the opportunity to leverage private investments. 

Our West Bayfront is an 843-acre area bounded by the Bayfront Connector to the west, W. 12th St. to the south, Sassafras St. to the east and Presque Isle Bay to the north.

OWB will carry out an action plan that promotes investment in the people and places that make this community unique. Initiatives include housing rehabilitation, parks improvements and streetscape enhancements.