Outside Voices

Category:  Opinion
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 at 7:52 AM

What would you like to see most at the Scott Enterprises-proposed Harbor Place?

Erie’s “Bayfront Parkway” sounds beautiful, the words work together to conjure up an image of lush greenery, lakeside views, fresh summery smells, vintage boutiques, independent coffee shops, and cool people.

But in reality, this long stretch of blacktop has empty lots full of rubble; the dust, brick, and bone of factories no longer producing, a water treatment facility that on a hot day could rot fresh fruit in what seems like only seconds from its putrid smell, hospitals full of sadness, a scrap yard full of twisted cars waiting to be butchered. There are always exceptions, for instance the highway’s bookends are serine, green, and clean. Frontier Park [1501 W. 6th Street] and Wintergreen Gorge serve as grand gateways for a road that’s journey can only be enjoyed at its ends.

While it is a dreadful thought that one day the Bayfront could look like anything similar to upper Peach Street, Scott Enterprises – the Hospitality Company that could turn city blocks into chain-restaurant troughs – is planning on turning the 12 acres of the Bayfront west of the Maritime Museum, which it purchased back in 1999, into a development titled Harbor Place. Once the project is complete, Erie’s parkway would showcase two more hotels totaling 220 rooms, restaurants, retail shops, office space, condos, two parking garages, a public promenade with fountains for the summer time and an ice rink during the winter months, a “floating entertainment” barge, and two skywalks crossing over the Bayfront Parkway.

If done right, Harbor Place could revitalize Erie and make real that image of beauty on the Bayfront. But if done wrong, it’ll be more litter along the freeway. So perhaps it’s best we get some Outside Voices on this new development and see what the city is longing for.

Karen Grey:
I’m completely against the condo idea. We already have a big Bayfront hotel put up that obstructed the beautiful, natural view. I do like the whole idea of the skywalk if it doesn’t obstruct the natural beauty that’s already there. And I’m completely in favor of a beautiful park with fountains and an aquarium.

Amanda Leberman: I don’t think we need tall condos or parking garages or hotels. I think it should be like a mini-Station Square in Pittsburgh, where there’d be a lot of little shops and restaurants. I like the park idea a lot, and the ice skating rink, that sounds fun.

John McChasmey: Something to make people have a lot of fun. There is already the Convention Center down there where you can have events and all kinds of things from Pro-Wrestling to concerts, but after you get out of that Convention Center, there’s nothing to do… So, have a couple restaurants, make a couple bars, and make some retail avenues for people… Make it fun, make it entertaining, and make it lively. Make somebody want to come to Erie, Pa.

TJ Samol: I think it’d be cool if they put a big aquarium in with dolphins you could swim with. Because I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins — on a daily basis. We can make salt water; we got plenty of street salt. Maybe a whisky distillery. You go drink whisky and swim with dolphins. That’s my lifelong dream.

Bob Bensen: I’d like to see a Cabelas or a sports store with kayaks you could take out on the bay. That way you can literally buy it and take it right out… I think an ice rink is a really good idea; that’d bring a lot of people downtown. Retail, I’m 50/50 on… We have enough of that at the mall, but at the same time, having it downtown might bring more people to local shops.

Erie Reader: Vol. 7, No. 21
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