Pete Zaphiris: “Anything that happens downtown, where people are investing, doesn’t hurt any of us.”
Erie business owner Pete Zaphiris says the coronavirus pandemic prompted the temporary shutdown of two of his construction projects and rewrote his timetable for this year.
But his plans for a series of developments along West 12th Street remain in place.
Zaphiris, owner of Erie-based Great Lakes Insurance Services, said he’s within a week or so of turning a new branch office for Citizens Bank over to its new occupants.
Work on the new 2,400-square-foot building, at 25 W. 12th St., began in January. The bank will be responsible for completing the interior construction over the next few months.
Zaphiris said he expects the new bank office might be able to open by the end of the year.
“When you move a bank, you have to go through all kinds of regulatory compliance,” he said. “They have some stuff to do on their end.”
The eventual occupancy of Citizens Bank in the new building will trigger the start of another project for Zaphiris.
Late this year, or early in 2021, Citizens is expected to move out of what had been the Citizens Bank building, now owned by Zaphiris, at the corner of West 12th and State streets.
That will clear the way for a renovation of that building, said Zaphiris, who plans major changes to both the building’s exterior and the interior of the first and second floors.
Renovations were recently completed to the building’s third floor, which is now leased to the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership.
The chamber moved earlier this year from its offices at the Erie Intermodal Transportation Center on the bayfront.
James Grunke, CEO of the chamber, said he thinks it’s important for his organization to have a visible presence downtown.
“We like being on the corner of 12th and State, as this is probably the most significant intersection in the downtown,” Grunke said. “After meeting with Pete, and getting an understanding of his vision, not only for this building, but for the adjoining property, we knew we would want to be a part of it.”
Once the bank moves out of the first floor, Zaphiris said he will begin renovating the space, partly for use by his own company.
“We just bought another company outside of Rochester and we are looking at two other acquisitions,” he said. “Erie is our home base, so we have to keep building out our infrastructure.”
For now, Zaphiris said he has rented out some of the single offices on the second floor of the building for professionals who have moved back to Erie because of COVID-19.
Zaphiris also said he also plans to resume work sometime soon on the former Metropolitan Dance Club at 144 W. 13th St.
His plans call for transforming the 100-year-old brick building into first-floor commercial space and to create seven apartments each on the second and third floors.
“We still have a lot of demand…