6 years in the making
$12 Million raised
80,000 square feet
A Vision of Hope
Location matters. That’s why ECAT was intentional in its decision about where to locate the center and how to present it to our community. With the help of a grant from the Hamot Health Foundation, ECAT purchased the former Wayne School in 2019 from the Erie School District. Wayne had been closed by the District in 2017 and sat vacant for two years.
It took vision, but in the aging school building ECAT saw a place where lives could be changed— a place of light and beauty; inclusion and respect— that represented a stark contrast to the physical and emotional characteristics of poverty.
ECAT’s first step was to hire a design team to help bring this vision to life. The Erie-based project company Spaulding Banks Project Management (SBPMI), Inc. was hired to lead the project, and Avon Design Group, LLC, a Pittsburgh-based firm, was hired as the architect.
Financing the project was another challenge. As a new nonprofit organization, ECAT did not have the capacity or the financial history that would support a typical capital project. Instead, ECAT utilized the federal New Market Tax Credit program to finance the $10.5M renovation of the building shell, ECAT space and new offices for Wayne Primary Care.
Commonwealth Cornerstone Group (CCG), a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, provided the tax credit and PNC Financial Group served as the investor. In order to close on the New Market deal, ECAT provided a leverage loan to the project. This leverage loan was made up of debt (loans provided by ErieBank, Northwest Bank, the Erie Community Foundation, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority and the Reinvestment Fund) as well as a grant from the Hamot Health Foundation and other ECAT donors. ECAT closed on the financing, the first of its kind in Erie County, in August 2020.
Renovation of Wayne began immediately and was completed in August 2021 at a total cost of $12M. Additional funding beyond the New Market Tax Credit was provided by a grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, bridge funding from Bridgeway Capital, Inc. and additional donor gifts.
ECAT was joined in this visionary project by three other organizations, who also saw the potential of locating in this space. Wayne Primary Care, operated by Primary Health Network (PHN), leased over 8000 square feet for its new, state-of-the art offices, which offer primary, specialty and behavioral health care to over 5000 patients. PHN also leased 800 square feet on the building’s ground floor to Darling’s Pharmacy.
In July 2020, United Way of Erie County purchased a condo space in the Wayne Building and moved their entire office and operations to this new facility in August 2021.
Finally, the UPMC Jameson School of Nursing at UPMC Hamot leased over 15,000 square feet on the building’s top floor to operate its brand new nursing school, which trains nurses in just over 16 months and will significantly address the region’s nursing labor shortage.
Together with ECAT, these partners are transforming Erie’s Eastside neighborhood by creating a hub for community engagement, education, healthcare and job training.