On a drive from the Bayfront south on State Street, the evidence of Erie’s urban renewal is impossible to miss. Look to your left and you will see that Hamot is in the midst of a major construction project. Moving towards Perry Square and you will find that the McDonald’s that once served as the source for Erie Alerts’ best work is now the temporary location of the successful Curling league. By next winter, this location and the adjacent property at North Park Row will look completely different.
Continuing up State Street and you will continue to see signs of a community on the rise. From the bars, clubs, and restaurants to the entertainment provided from theaters, sports venues, and our beloved comedy club, State Street displays a vibrant urban center with the feel of a small town. Then, you arrive at 18th Street.
The former Erie Downtown Hotel serves as the border between the Erie we like to show off to visitors and the Erie we try to avoid. The optimism about our future and the urban decay that we’d like to make a part of our past. The Erie Downtown Hotel has been closed since last February when inspectors deemed the structure to be unsafe. It didn’t exactly stand as a beacon of civic pride before the closure.
While operational, the decaying structure seemed to exist only to give visitors the worst possible first impression of Erie. Online reviews called out the hotel for foul smells, unsafe conditions, and accusations of being catfished by pictures on the hotel’s website. Seriously, check out the reviews after you finish reading this post. They’re unbelievable. Some of my favorites include:
Told the miserable clerk about the blood-stained bedspread & the no other blankets. He said, “someone messed up, but, hey – you ate the steak, you don’t get a refund”
Andrea K. – Yelp
The place was safe but VERY dirty. For someone who grew up with no running water and took one bath a week I was afraid to even brush my teeth and use the vending machines let alone eat their free breakfast. I was waiting to see Norman Bates walk the hallway.
Gidget – Hotels.com
This place is HOTEL HELL. If you are a cheap prostitute, a heroin user or a crack addict this place is home. The pool was not open and from what I heard had not been open for several years. The pictures they provide for advertising are total fiction. Photo Shop did a great job. The Continental breakfast is stale packaged Hostess snacks and I was told I was lucky they were put out. If you try to complain, management is never available. The Health Department in Erie, PA was completely unresponsive to my concerns. And my wife and I still bear the scars from BED BUG bites experienced the day after Labor Day 2017 when we made the mistake of staying there. While Milcreek Mall is nice, my advice to anyone is to avoid Erie, Pennsylvania at all costs. While the people who live there are nice the streets are potholed and the whole town looks like a total ghetto. This hotel is worse than a bad homeless shelter. If you stay here after reading all these reviews, then consider yourself to be very stupid. By the way, I’m still waiting for a refund from my night of Hell which will never come.
Chris – TripAdvisor
As you can see, this decrepit hotel has been a stain on our improving downtown for years. Even closed, it provides an aesthetic of crime and failure. Fortunately, our long-standing civic nightmare may soon come to an end as we appear to be close to having a buyer for the property.
The Facebook comments section for this post was predictably toxic. The tired refrain of “Just what we need. Another hotel” were met with congratulatory reactions from other like-minded simpletons that prefer blight to progress.
While it could be argued that we don’t even know the potential buyer’s plans for the property and should wait before we react, the numerous negative reviews tell a story of tourists that came to enjoy our downtown and were fooled into sub-par accommodations.
Perhaps we drive by 18th and State a year from now to see a tremendous structure that houses a wonderful place that we never knew we always needed. Perhaps, we see a brand-new nondescript gas station. Perhaps, toxic Facebook commenters guessed correctly and we drive by a brand-new downtown hotel. At least we know that the new hotel’s guests would be provided with the first impression of our city that they deserve. Either way, it’s just one more instance of something good happening in Erie.