Department of Community and Economic Development officials joined Ellwood City officials and residents Tuesday afternoon on a tour showcasing the progress of the town’s revitalization made possible by state grants.
Before the tour began, local officials thanked the DCED and all taking part in the revitalization efforts.
“We are in the midst of changing Ellwood City,” said Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court, “We will keep improving the look and the infrastructure.
Ellwood City Borough Manager Dom Vicarri said the current improvements are just the beginning.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Officials saw the improvements and construction underway at the Revitalization plaza and at the Ellwood City Emporium.
Clyde Holman, deputy secretary of community development, told the crowd that he is pleased to see the grant money being used for projects like the Emporium.
“A vibrant community equals a vibrant economy,” Holman said.
The plaza is a gorgeous outdoor area; one that Lenore Bazzichi, president of the Ellwood City Revitalization board, said will be a green space. Featuring a stage, the plaza will be full of plants and trees and also features a spacious, unique fountain.
Right around the corner from the plaza is The Emporium. It will be renovated through a grant-to-loan DCED disbursement of $155,580. Eric Ryan Corporation purchased the Emporium earlier this year, and CEO Keith Venezie is excited about the building’s potential.
He spoke to the tour-goers and offered renderings of what the Emporium might look like once it is finished. The renderings were vibrant and colorful. He hopes to bring the Emporium to life with his vision.
“I think it is going to be quite successful,” he said. “I want to put franchises in there that will bring feet off the street.”
Venezie described eateries, tables to sit at and enjoy food or relax, and a wide array of opportunities for local people to gather and shop. Venezie said there have been negotiations with up to possibly three franchises to offer anchor positions within the Emporium.
He equated the revitalization efforts to running a race. He said a baton was handed to him by Bazzichi and he ran with it (working to make the Emporium create new business opportunities). He asked who will be next to take the baton.
Since 2006 Ellwood City had received $965,143 in grant funding for various projects.