Gateway District Property Acquisition Q&A
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the Millcreek Township General Authorities' purchase of property on the planned Presque Isle Gateway District.
These purchases are an investment in the Millcreek community that will pay future dividends.
The latest activity in the Presque Isle Gateway District is the result of a public planning process to improve the community and create a vibrant corridor to support business and tourism.
This is a transformational investment in the Millcreek Community – designed using best practices developed for similar community revitalization projects – that will pay future dividends. Through the implementation of Embrace Millcreek and the Presque Isle Gateway District Plan, we are catalyzing change by strengthening this important business district and investing in our future.
This investment will spur development of the Presque Isle Gateway District consistent with what residents shared during the ongoing public planning process and what the Township is already doing along the 8th Street corridor.
When you look at the communities where public authorities have managed preparation of the canvas required for modern developments, you’ll find taxpayers are protected and projects like the Presque Isle Gateway District are successful economic engines that drive visitors, increase property values, create jobs, and generate tax revenue.
Millcreek's efforts are supported by its state legislators, State Senator Dan Laughlin and State Representative Ryan Bizzarro, the Governor's office, agencies in Harrisburg, and many local redevelopment agencies. The project has already attracted a $3.5 million RACP grant received for improvements to 8th Street and the $1 million demolition funding by the Erie County Land Bank. We continue to leverage the Township’s investment to attract other sources of funding.
Citizens and business owners have been encouraging the Township to tackle the modernization of this key business and tourism corridor for a decade - the project is much larger than these parcels, in fact, it is designed to improve all of 8th Street from Pittsburgh Avenue extending to and along Peninsula Drive, as part of the Presque Isle Gateway District Plan.
One of the five focus areas in the Township’s comprehensive plan - Embrace Millcreek, adopted in 2018 - is to create a distinctive and high-quality Gateway District to Presque Isle. The process to create a specific plan for the district was started by the Township’s Planning and Development Department in 2021, and the Presque Isle Gateway District Plan was adopted into the Township's comprehensive plan in 2022. The plan identifies much-needed improvements in the area including roads, sidewalks, more green space, better lighting, and removal of aboveground utilities.
The robust plan doesn’t stop there. It is outlined for residents and designed in consideration of ongoing public feedback, and we encourage residents to get involved and learn more by visiting www.millcreektownship.com/gatewayplan where you will find more information about the process and can download a copy of the plan.
Under state law, the Municipality Authorities Act gives municipalities the ability to form municipal authorities for a variety of purposes, including redevelopment efforts. Based on best practices from across the commonwealth, the Millcreek Township General Authority was recognized to be the most appropriate vehicle to lead the redevelopment of the Presque Isle Gateway District. The formation of an authority provides many benefits to the municipality that creates it, including protecting taxpayers.
An authority benefits the region through its defined role in purchasing and selling property; and unlike the Township, the Authority will qualify to attract certain funds from outside entities.
Allentown, PA, through the creation of the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority, was successful in attracting 4,000 jobs to the urban core and a billion dollars of new development. Developments include coworking space, apartments, sports and entertainment arena, hotel, corporate headquarters, and medical office space. These developments would not have been possible without the Authority acting as a conduit. In short, an authority has broader ability to move largescale economic development projects than the Township has under the Second Class Township Code.
Site control is key to transformational redevelopment initiatives, such as the Presque Isle Gateway District, and has been a successful best practice in many communities, like Pittsburgh, which has transformed its economy through similar initiatives. Acquisition of key sites allows the community to set a focused direction for development which reflects the vision of the residents as captured in the comprehensive planning process.
These parcels are all located in what is arguably the most valuable business and tourism corridor in the region, but many of these properties have been an eyesore along 8th Street for some time. The approved Presque Isle Gateway District Plan recommended that the Township encourage development in this key area of 8th Street. We continue to leverage the Township’s investment to attract other sources of funding.
The Erie County Land Bank has agreed to help fund demolition costs up to $1M. Millcreek Township will put the demolition work out to bid and select the lowest responsible bidder.
A series of RFQ, RFP, and bid solicitation will be issued for demolition, design, and development firms to assist in the next phases of the project. Throughout the process, there will be additional opportunities for engagement as we continue to leverage the Township’s investment to attract other sources of funding.
Above is concept art for the development of the Presque Isle Gateway District. These images strictly serve as visuals and may not reflect the final corridor improvements.