Genesee County Economic Development Center -- through its financing arm, Genesee Gateway LDC -- is committing $500,000 to redevelopment projects in the City of Batavia as well as the business districts of Genesee County's towns and villages.
The money to start the new revolving loan fund is seeded from revenue generated for the LDC by the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which in the last year has seen two companies construct yogurt plants there.
"Fortunately, some of the risks we've taken and some of our strategies we've taken have created some capital," said GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said during a joint meeting Thursday of the GCEDC and LDC boards of directors. "I'm now recommending to the local development board to say, 'let's take some of the strategic investment money from the success of the ag park and reinvest it to support the redevelopment activities and revitalization here in the city and the business centers in the towns and villages.'"
The board approved the proposal unanimously.
The vote followed presentations by Batavia Development Corp. Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte and City Manager Jason Molino.
The city, which is largely built out and has some aging industrial and commercial buildings, has been developing a strategy to pursue redevelopment, adaptive reuse and in-fill development.
An example of redevelopment, Pacatte said, is the Masse Gateway project, which took old manufacturing buildings and turned them into office buildings.
Adaptive reuse would be the project now under way to convert the former Carr's warehouse in Jackson Square into retail, office and apartment space.
In-fill would be the kind of project that Pacatte said needs to take place with the Della Penna property on Ellicott Street where there's one building on the property now and another could be added to create more density and expand the range of uses for the property.
"These projects are very difficult to fund," Pacatte said, "the Carr's warehouse for example. It was a warehouse. It's becoming residential and commercial. The condition of the building today, he (the buyer) would never get a traditional mortgage to do anything with that site, so he needed to start with a lot of equity. He has to look for some other opportunities so he can cash flow the project before the the grants will come in on the back end to reimburse him."
The kind of loans available through the new Batavia Micropolitan Redevelopment Fund could have helped the Carr's Warehouse project.
The loans will need to meet a long list of requirements to be granted and can range from $25,000 to $100,000 at 80 percent of prime.
To qualify, a developer would need to have at least a 30-percent equity stake in the project or already have another traditional bank loan in place. Collateral is required and the developer must make a personal guarantee for repayment.
Legislator Marrianne Clattenburg -- who both while City Council president and as a legislator has been critical of the scant attention GCEDC has seemed to pay to redevelopment in the city -- was pleased with today's decision and was on hand to witness the vote.
"It meets what I'm looking for," Clattenburg said. "It's a start. It's a beginning and it's gratifying to see the culmination of what I believe is a partnership that's forming and a recognition that the county development agency should be into redevelopment while it's doing greenfield development. I'm gratified it's coming about and I look forward to much more in the future."
For more than a decade, at least, GCEDC has been focused on building shovel-ready parks to attract manufacturing and other industrial businesses. Its biggest success so far, with the opening of the Alpina and Muller Quaker yogurt plants, has been the ag park.
The LDC will administer the loan fund. GCEDC could become involved in projects where tax abatements are needed to assist the redevelopment effort, Hyde said.
Molino said it's really been a collaborative effort to develop the new program.
"Developing this over the past few months has been a good opportunity for everybody and hopefully there will be more opportunities where the city, the BDC and the EDC can partner and take advantage of some of the development that's happening throughout the county and really help redevelop and improve some parts of the city," Molino said.