Renaissance Centre Going from Bricks to Bandwidth
When you think of downtown Erie, what's the one building that comes to mind? Chances are, it's the tallest one, the Renaissance Centre.
"The building was actually built in 1929 by the Erie Trust Company. Not a very good year for a bank to be building a building, but it was intended to be a dominant sky scraper so to speak here in Erie," said the building's current owner Tom Kennedy.
The building changed ownership over the years, but more than 70 years later one thing remains the same; It's still the biggest structure in Erie.
"It is the dominate building both height wise and volume wise here in Erie and it's right at the geographic center so it's nice for businesses that are located here. You can just tell them drive to downtown Erie and look up and find the biggest building and that's where we are," said Kennedy.
But what's going on inside these days is different. From bricks to bandwidth Kennedy likes to say. From the antennas and wireless providers on the very top of the 14th floor, down to the Velocity Net fiber hub in the basement, the building, and a good majority of the 50 plus businesses inside, are technology driven.
"Although this is an older building, 1929, it has all the amenities you would need in this day and age. The bandwidth is terrific. We have a fiber connection and plenty of room to grow and expand," said Brian Amich, the owner of Werkbot Studios, a tenant of the building.
"The name's appropriate. It's a renaissance that's happening in the Renaissance. It's a fresh energy it's a fresh perspective. I love the juxtaposition with the historical Erie with the future of Erie that's happening just inside the doors," said Tamarah Black, CEO of Phoenix Idea Lab and Phoenix Cosmopolitan Group.
And because of this sort of revitalization, and rebirth of the Renaissance, Kennedy is seeing some great success. When he bought it in 1988 it was about 80 percent vacant. Today, it's 80 percent occupied.
"My whole focus in real estate really got focused around trying to find new uses for old structures that we could keep the architectural character of the building but embrace the fact that we couldn't do things the same way," said Kennedy.
And Kennedy believes his model of success in the renaissance can serve as an example for the entire city as more technology driven companies continue to arrive.