Another neighborhood in Williamsport that is disappearing is the older industrial section of eastern Downtown and all but disappeared Little Italy. This section is roughly bounded by State Street to the west, Basin Street to the east, Willow Street and parts of Fourth Street to the north, and Via Bella to the south. This area is bursting with so much potential. And it is starting to come alive again with some businesses.
Basin Street Shopping Center was developed in the 1980’s and then the Williamsport area got its first and only Starbucks in late 2006. Panera opened up in 2010 and a new barbecue restaurant opened in an older industrial building in 2013. Around Basin Street Shopping Center there are also some new apartments that have been built within the past ten years. What’s left of Little Italy is pretty much nothing. Most of the neighborhood was flattened when Interstate 180 was built along the eastern end of Canal Street about two or three blocks from the river’s edge. The area between Front Street and Canal Street was completely transformed and disappeared when the highway was built.
I love this neighborhood. I see it as a very compact area where restaurants, shopping, and residential can coexist seamlessly. There have been a few studies on the neighborhood within the past few years and I would really love to see it be the next area that gets some major development in the city.
The beginning of March seemed pretty bright for this section of the city:
Campana said the initial idea is for the commission to work closely with what’s happening between the city, Lycoming College and Lycoming County as it seeks to redevelop the area called Old City, which is from Market Street east toward Chatham Street.
The city is putting $25,000 into the Old City redevelopment, while seeking a matching $25,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Lycoming County approved spending $25,000.
The areas south of Church Street are barren. Loads of surface lots and the small amount of new construction that’s there is pretty suburban. North of Church Street all the way to Willow and Fourth Street, though, is loaded with character. It’s truly amazing to walk around the area. So much can be done. It could be anything really.
If you notice, you’ll see that the area slowly gets more dense as I move closer to Fourth Street. That area is especially interesting. Didn’t even seem like I was in the same town. Very old, and in need of some tlc. South of Third Street is open to the imagination. I would love to see some large scale, mixed-use development and adaptive reuse. We can do it with the right people and the right ideas. These photos will be divided into two parts. One section covering the area from Via Bella north to Third Street, and the second covering the area from Third Street north to Willow.
Via Bella to Third:
Third to Willow:
The remnants of the industries, businesses and homes that once dominated this area show a small hint to what used to stand in this section of town. I’d like the City to make this priority number one in terms of development and investment. With its compact footprint, proximity to Lycoming College, and neighboring the rest of Downtown, I think it could thrive.