Casey comes to town bearing $400K for 100 Seneca project

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey stopped to visit 100 Seneca in Oil City on Monday and announced a $400,000 federal earmark for renovations to the building.

“This isn’t something extra, this is something you deserve. You send your tax dollars to Washington and some of them are coming back,” Casey said.

In October, Casey announced the inclusion of the $400,000 in a Senate appropriations package to revitalize the former Mellon Bank building in Oil City’s North Side business district.

“The process (for allocating federal earmarks) now is very rigorous. They did a very good job with this project,” Casey told the newspaper.

During a few remarks, Casey recalled a meeting he attended five years ago on the opioid crisis that was held in 100 Seneca, which at that time had recently been purchased by Venango County.

The same vision to mitigate the damage done to the community by the opioid crisis was at work on the “ambitious project” of renovating the five-story building, Casey said.

“You are preserving this building and transforming it into a place of commerce…and jobs,” Casey said.

Emily Lewis, executive director of the Venango County Economic Development Authority, said the county purchased the former bank in 2017 and transferred it to the economic development authority. Since then, the building has new windows and doors and a new roof.

Currently, the HVAC is under construction and masonry work is being done on the interior of the building, Lewis said.

The plan is for the first floor of the building to house a brewery/distillery and for the fifth floor to house a business innovation center, Lewis said. She added that some creative ideas have been expressed for what to put on the second, third and fourth floors of the building.

“We’re about $5 million in work, critical work,” Lewis said. The whole building should be finished by 2024 or 2025, she added.

Venango County commissioners Albert Abramovic, Sam Breene and Mike Dulaney, Oil City Mayor Bill Moon and city councilmen Dale Massie and Ron Gustafson were among those who attended Monday’s event.