I had to laugh when the Erie Review hit our doorstep this week, its front page story being an obvious follow up of a feature in our April issue. In our story, we told how Old Town Erie faces new struggles as development just a few blocks away at the so-called “Four Corners” continues to progress. Their perspective was much different.
Over the course of the next few years, we’ll see upwards of 355,000 square feet of new commercial development near the intersection of Leon A Wurl Parkway and East County Line Road. Old Town Erie, less than a mile a way, by comparison offers about a sixth of that.
That doesn’t mean we should start writing the Old Town obituary just yet. But when we talked to our Briggs Street neighbors, it seems obvious they all need to band together, form a business association and market the heck out of the historic district.
Old Town needs to pull on the increased traffic heading to the Four Corners, but it can’t expect visitors to just stumble into the hidden historic part of town when similar offerings will be more convenient in the new development.
It looks like the town’s two media sources have different perspectives on how the Four Corners development will play out. The Review painted a much more rosy picture, using Peter Wolak as the primary source.
Peter has long been a proponent of Old Town, at times, running an Old Town business association pretty much by himself. But he lives in Texas now, and his business, Zupa, is for sale. He wouldn’t want to keep property values high in Old Town temporarily, would he?
“Everything that’s going on; it’s all good,” Wolak told the Erie Review.
He says the opening of the new Community Center and Library at the Four Corners has helped business. The story fails to guess at what’ll happen when a coffee shop, salon and restaurant open in the new town in the next few months. It could kill Old Town quickly.
Still, we think the new development is mostly good. The Community Center is top notch and the town’s effort to centralize both its new business and old districts should be lauded.
But if the blinders stay on in Old Town, Old Town will suffer while the new town center bustles.