The news that Fourth River Development LLC missed a $70,000 payment on the Peach Street condos brought up a lot of opinions — 76 and still counting – on my Facebook page Saturday. Yesterday, Kim Green, the Redevelopment Authority executive director, announced one condo is sold, and the developers showed up to promise payment. All good news.
John Watson from the Pittsburgh-based developer Fourth River Development LLC knew it was important. “If public news of this created any questions, I wanted to answer them,” Watson said in the April 9 edition of the Erie Times-News article by Kevin Flowers. The group suffered a blow last year when the point man on the project died in a bicycle accident. To date, Fourth River has built seven town homes.
Comments on my Facebook page offered a lot of opinions that future developers might want to heed.
First the negative — it was bad. One Erie transplant, who has moved to Chicago, was bitter about almost everything Erie — jobs, rent, home prices and salaries. But in true Erie fashion, dozens of us rallied to defend our town. She finally took her battle to her own Facebook page.
Many folks questioned the location, the style and everything else about these town homes. What do people want? One reader — and I have heard this before — wants to rent a downtown condo. Before anyone scoffs, this is an idea worth pursuing, and I am sure there are a gazillion reasons to say no, but rentals in Lovell Place and Modern Tool have done well for decades. Decades, that is. I have worked with kids who live there and love their digs — some are no longer kids.
Marsha Marsh pointed out that downtown condos do sell, but it takes time. The Mercantile condos — built in 2009 — were marketed by Howard Hanna Real Estate and later by Marsha Marsh Real Estate. They did sell – all but two are sold. Prices ranged from $85,000 – $160,000.
This downtown lifestyle is not the norm in Erie, but it is the norm in other cities. My daughter lives in Pittsburgh. True city folks love city life — and the seven units are no different than what I have seen in bigger cities. It is the first of 140 planned units in Erie. Will it work? My Facebook friends pointed out that that block needs an all-important grocery store, coffee shop and big-town draw to improve activity.
Matt Froehlich, of Coldwell Banker Select in Erie, supports the project and said that recent activity at the town homes has been helped by listing the units with an Erie real estate firm — something that should have been part of the original agreement.
One local couple already purchased a town home. I am impressed with all the folks who defended our city and defended the project.