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Aug. 11--It was expected to be a summer of landscape-altering construction projects in Erie.

And while that's happening, you might have to look down to see the change as construction crews continue to dig massive holes and build foundations below ground level.

In addition to a $25 million residence hall project at Mercyhurst University, four projects valued at $100 million or more each were all expected to be in the design or early construction phase during 2017.

There's word now, however, that the first phase of one of those construction projects won't begin this fall as previously planned.

Work on an eight-story Hampton Inn & Suites, the first phase of a $150 million bayfront development planned by Erie-based Scott Enterprises, had been scheduled to begin in October.

Nick Scott Sr., president of the company, said Thursday that construction -- expected at one point to begin this spring -- won't start until the spring of 2018.

Part of the project is being paid for with assistance from a $5 million grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. Back in April, Scott had said that the state had given Scott Enterprise a deadline of October to begin work on the project.

With design work on that project taking longer than expected, it's unlikely that work could have begun before winter, Scott said.

"We are starting in the spring and we have cleared that with the state," Scott said. "It's definitely going to happen. We are spending a lot of money."

Part of the delay, he said, was arranging for design changes with the hotel company.

"We are trying to do everything we can to make it as good and first class as possible," he said.

The hotel is part of the Harbor Place development that is expected to include hotels, restaurants, commercial and residential space.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of excavators and construction crews at work in Erie this summer. Here's a look at what's happening and what's in the works:

--The largest and arguably most visible construction project in Erie County is under way at the corner of French and East Sixth streets, where Erie Insurance is building a 346,000-square-foot building that's expected to provide working space for about 1,200 employees.

For now, the building is essentially a hole in the ground, albeit a very large, deep hole in which crews are working to build a foundation and install conduits that will carry electric lines and other utilities. Construction of the building is expected to take about three years.

--Construction seems to be at about the same point at Mercyhurst University, where crews are working on a $25 million student housing complex. The four-story, 148,000-square-foot building will provide space for 350 sophomores, who will be housed in a series of suites.

Demolition of a series of students apartments began in May. The U-shaped building, located south of East 38th Street, between Lewis and Briggs avenues, is expected to be ready for the 2018-19 school year.

--Construction is also in the early stages at Saint Vincent Hospital, where owner Highmark is investing $115 million in a 104,000-square-foot expansion that will include space for a new emergency department and operating rooms.

The project, expected to be complete in 2019, represents a revival of project that had to be scaled back several years ago due to financial concerns.

Construction will extend from the Hardner Building at 2315 Myrtle St. to the north side of the hospital.

--Design work continues on another local project that's expected to cost more than $100 million.

UPMC Hamot continues to refine plans for a $111 million building that will be built on the existing site of the existing Hamot Professional Building at 104 E. Second St.

The building, which remains in the design phase, will include 64 intensive care beds and an expansion of the hospital's imaging department.

Jim Martin can be reached at 870-1668 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at

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