News & Press

Beacon Communities and Local Partners Invest in $27 Million Renovation

July 13, 2023

Contact: Erin Sogal


For Immediate Release


Beacon Communities and Local Partners Invest in $27 Million Renovation

Upgraded Property Provides Affordable Housing and Supports a Vibrant Downtown Erie


Erie, PA – Beacon Communities and local leaders are debuting the $27 million renovation of the Richford Arms Apartments located at 515 State Street, Erie, PA. The 14+-month construction project represents a significant investment into this prominent historic property while enhancing and increasing access to affordable housing in Erie, along with renovated retail spaces and storefronts to enliven State Street and Perry Square.

The historic property originally opened in May 1928 as the luxury Ford Hotel and is located one mile from Lake Erie. Richford Arms offers a variety of one-bedroom floor plans along with a community room, community kitchen, computer lab, fitness center, and laundry facilities. The updated, air-conditioned apartments have fully equipped kitchens and large windows with views of downtown and Lake Erie. The property is located on the Erie public bus route and is also within walking distance of the UPMC Hamot Hospital, the Gannon Recreation Center, museums, restaurants, and shopping. The CO-OP Food Market across the street is also providing discounted memberships for the residents, and the Erie Downtown Development Corporation has offered residents access to a variety of their programs.

Richford Arms is a 10 story, 106-unit affordable community designed for seniors who are age 62 or older, or people with disabilities. Beacon Communities rehabilitated the 100 original units, built a new addition to the community that added six accessible units, expanded the community and management space to accommodate more robust resident programming, and improved the overall facade of the building. New elevators and improvements to the HVAC units were completed and sustainability upgrades were made to achieve the Enterprise Green – Moderate Rehab certification. In addition to physical renovations, the new community room provides space for enhancements to the comprehensive wellness services available to residents, like on-site health screenings, fitness programs, technology classes and more. These updated programs will support the residents by providing benefits targeted to their needs.

Through this investment, Beacon has ensured the apartments will remain affordable for residents for decades. Beacon partnered with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, KeyBank, Erie Insurance, Fannie Mae, and the City of Erie to make this project possible. A new 20-year Section 8 contract has also been put into place.

“We are pleased to support downtown Erie’s growth and vitality with the renovation of Richford Arms.” said Dara Kovel, Chief Executive Officer of Beacon Communities. “Beacon’s mission is to create and nurture vibrant and sustainable communities that positively impact the lives of our residents. We are proud to have partnered with the City of Erie and Erie Insurance to preserve and improve existing affordable housing while investing in Perry Square and in the City.”

“Congratulations to Beacon Communities on the completion of the renovation of the Richford Arms in downtown Erie,” said Erie Mayor Joe Schember on Wednesday. “Quality, affordable housing is a critical need in our community and an important part of our vision to ensure that all our neighborhoods are vibrant and welcoming. This historic building provides much-needed affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents. I’m happy that the city could provide $2.45 million in low-interest loans for this transformational project through our HOME Investment Partnership federal funding allocation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

“The transformation of Richford Arms is exciting for the residents of downtown Erie and complementary to the other work underway as part of Erie’s revitalization. The renovations Beacon Communities has made throughout the building — as well as the addition of a first-floor community space — will help Richford Arms grow, engage and enrich the lives of their residents in downtown Erie,” said Chris Marsh, chief diversity and community development officer at Erie Insurance. “We’ve always believed that the strongest communities are diverse and inclusive communities, and that’s an approach Beacon has taken since they first entered the Erie market. Their investments here are significant and their commitment to our community is appreciated.”

“Richford Arms offers affordable housing that is much needed in downtown Erie,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann. “With its focus on preservation, community and environmental impact, this multifamily building is an example of thoughtful redevelopment that will give this housing asset extended life to the benefit of its residents and the city of Erie.”

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About Beacon Communities: Beacon Communities LLC is a privately owned real estate firm that develops, acquires, invests in, and manages a wide range of multi-family housing. Their portfolio includes affordable housing, market rate housing and mixed income-housing. Their developments range from new construction, to historic adaptive reuse, to the renovation of existing housing. They take on challenging developments and make them succeed. Their driving passion is to create well-designed, healthy homes that improve the quality of life of their residents and enhance the neighborhoods in which they are located. For more information about Beacon Communities LLC, please visit

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