“We need investment from the city” in the West Bay of Erie


Gary Kanonczyk’s long-standing faith in West Erie Bay is on display at the northeast corner of West Fifth and Cherry Streets.

This is where Erie’s businessman, Great Lakes Development, is putting the finishing touches on a $ 400,000 three-unit building.

Each unit features two bedrooms, a one-car garage, new appliances, laundry hookups, central air conditioning and many other amenities.

The units will likely be leased for around $ 1,000 per month, but the exact price is still being determined, Kanonczyk said.

“I think the market for these units is made up of young families, young professionals,” Kanonczyk said. “I hope we can finish them all by September.”

Erie businessman Gary Kanonczyk and his company, Great Lakes Development, complete a three-unit townhouse project, presented on June 28, at the northeast corner of West Fifth and Cherry streets in Erie .  Kanonczyk said he hopes the $ 350,000 project will be completed by the end of August.

Investing in the Lower West Side

The building sits on two pieces of property that Kanonczyk has owned for over a decade.

“I’m on purpose in town, on the west side,” said Kanonczyk, a retired financial executive and consultant to Erie Insurance who owns about two dozen properties in western Erie, according to property records from the Erie. county.

Great Lakes Development also includes Kanonczyk’s wife, Susan, and sons Alex, Adam and Austin as co-owners.

“Decades ago, I intentionally decided this. I knew the area would improve, ”Kanonczyk said. “There are a lot of big pluses here in Northwest Erie, like Gannon (university), Erie Insurance, and the waterfront. And we need investment from the city.

Alex Kanonczyk added: “Working as a family, we have a lot of fun. The hardest part, but the funniest part, is seeing it all come together.”

The Great Lakes Development Project is one of the latest examples of new housing units being privately developed in the urban core of Erie, which city officials rely on to attract new residents to the city.

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The project “does not happen” without the LERTA tax program

“I walked by (the townhouse site) every two weeks to see it fall into place,” said Erie Mayor Joe Schember, who thinks the project underscores how much the program is doing. The city’s local economic revitalization tax assistance may be attractive to those seeking to create new housing or improve existing housing.

Erie Mayor Joe Schember.

Schember’s administration has successfully extended LERTA, which offers 10-year property tax breaks for new construction / residential and commercial improvements in all areas of the city, including the waterfront.

City officials said the expanded LERTA has generated nearly $ 89.5 million in new commercial and residential investment in the city of Erie since the nationwide expansion of the program took effect. the city in July 2019.

The Great Lakes Development project is approved by LERTA.

Schember said the program is paying off, as investments in commercial and residential properties will increase the city’s declining tax base over time and attract new residents to city neighborhoods.

“It makes me really happy to see more new homes like this built in Erie,” Schember said. “I suspect LERTA made it easier for him.”

Gary Kanonczyk was more direct.

“This project cannot be done without 100% LERTA, period,” he said.

Kanonczyk mentioned that the expanded LERTA contributes to the financial viability of construction projects within city limits, where many developments in many neighborhoods may experience rapid depreciation after completion.

“There is a risk,” Kanonczyk said. “LERTA helps with that.”

Townhouses are modular in construction

The townhouses, Kanonczyk said, are a modular structure, meaning their multiple rooms were prefabricated / built elsewhere and brought to Erie to be assembled and finished on site.

“There are 16 pieces of what had to be transported here and put together,” Kanonczyk said. “People think of ‘modular’ like a mobile home … But this thing is a beast and it’s solid as hell. You go up and jump up and down in one of the rooms, you won’t feel it. not even.”

Anna Frantz is the Executive Director of Our West Bayfront, a neighborhood organization launched in 2016 to help improve the western neighborhoods of Erie Bay, focusing on the Presque Isle Bay area south to West 12th Street and Sassafras Street in the west to Bayfront Parkway.

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Great Lakes Development’s townhouse project fits into this footprint.

Frantz said Kanonczyk “has done a great job purely in terms of the process of connecting with residents and neighborhood watch groups. He reaches out and keeps people up to date with his plans. It’s something we really love to see.

Our West Bayfront Executive Director, Anna Frantz.

Frantz pointed out that the western waterfront has seen “hasn’t seen a lot of new construction (of housing) in the past 20 years.” These types of developments can really have a positive impact on the community. “

That’s what Kanonczyk and his family want to accomplish.

“I can’t say enough about all the positive things that are happening in the city with the development,” Kanonczyk said. “We stand in line and try to do our part.”

Contact Kevin Flowers at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ETNfleurs.