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July 30, 2013 - 9:32am

City unveils ambitious redevelopment plans for 'Batavia Opportunity Area'

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, redevelopment.

It's an ambitious plan, one that takes in 366 acres in the heart of Batavia and targets at least five major areas for redevelopment, and it got a some favorable responses at a special public meeting Monday night.

"There have been a lot of plans done over the past 15 years and they have been shelved," said local businesswoman Mary Valle. "Now, we are ready to move forward. There are a lot of exciting things going on in the county and the city. I do believe the people are ready to support it and more forward."

Perhaps the most dramatic redevelopment proposal involves knocking down part of the downtown mall and extending Jackson Street north to Alva Place.

The plan would open up some of the mall concourse, improve parking and traffic circulation and improve development potential in the area, officials said.

An artist's rendering shows a new three-story, L-shaped building at the corner of the extended Jackson Street and Main as well as a new three-story building on the east side of the new Jackson Street, next to the existing Bank of Castile building.

"I like the idea that we are doing something," said Councilman Pier Cipollone. "I would prefer to see more retail come into the mall. I really like the idea of opening up the concourse.I would actually like to see the entire concourse opened up and create an open area walkway. I understand the notion of an indoor winter area, but I still thik it would make more sense to just open it up and give all those businesses access from the outside."

The plan also calls for redevelopment in and around the Della Penna building on Ellicott Street, to stretch down Evans toward Mill Street and along the railroad tracks almost to Jackson Street.

Included in what's known as the Batavia Opportunity Area is the Harvester Center -- which has already undergone some redevelopment with the Masse Place project -- and what the plan calls the medical corridor, which is the area east of Bank Street.

The plan builds on Batavia Central Corridor Urban Design, Marketing and Development Plan completed in 2006 and the recently completed Community Improvement Plan.

The planning phase is covered under a $260,000 state grant, the Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program.

The presentation, with artist renderings, is supposed to be posted on the Batavia Opportunity Area Web site some time this morning.

Story via The Batavian's official news partner, WBTA.

tim raines
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Finally

The big pink elephant (mall) roars and someone in city government heard it.

What took so long?

Mark Potwora
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I agree on opening up the Mall concourse..The city would also benefit by not being responsible for the maintenance of the leaking roof..I would think it would save in the long run..This would make it more of a plaza and less a mall..Sounds like a great idea..Hope this is just not alot of talk...Everyone knows that the whole set up of the Mall is a problem...Calling it the Genesee County Mall is a farce in it self..The county does nothing to support it..It is all city taxpayers..Take the whole roof off the concourse..The benefits out weigh the negatives..

John Roach
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Mark, this whole plan is based on grants and tax breaks/incentives, is that something you would support?

Mark Potwora
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Yes i would..Anything to get the city out of the Mall concourse business is money well spent..I would rather see 60,000 dollar grant going to rid the city of a leaking roof instead of a Dentist to create an apartment to rent for his own personal gain....What tax breaks can the city give themselves..This is about removing the roof off the Mall concourse,not handing out tax breaks to private citizens..

Howard B. Owens
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There will be lots of tax breaks and grants along the way for all of the projects of the BOA.

There will also be that revolving loan fund recently set up by the GCEDC.

I'm OK with that because the only way these changes will happen is with a little help, and if those grants aren't spent here they will be spent else where.

Batavia First!

Billie Owens
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FYI...It's the Genesee Country Mall.

John Roach
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Mark, this is not just taking the roof off part of the Mall (and it is unclear who will be responsible for the remaining concourse).

It is tearing down about 5 mall businesses and relocating them, changing parking around, moving the Bank of America drive thru and spending tax money on the facades of private businesses and even the YMCA.

Private business and a tax exempt facility (the Y) would get help.

I attended the meeting and think this is a good project.

Jim Rosenbeck
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I attended the meeting last night. At least there was a vision presented for a better Batavia. That is a starting point. As the headline says, the initial plan is ambititious. My guess is that any plan ultimately approved will be scaled down from the presentation we heard last night. I will give the city and Jason Molino due props for involving citizens early on instead of trying to force feed us a finished plan. There is going to be a lot of debate on this one and that will be healthy. All the stakeholders need to get involved. What we have is a daring and grand concept not a finished plan. Financing and details can't even be intelligently discussed right now. So lets not jump the gun and throw the baby out with the bath water. However, where the EDC's are involved, I am always concerned about cronyism. Remember, somebody made a bunch of money building our mall. let's make sure we get our moneys worth this time around. Private business monies need to be a big part of any final plan, along with grants and perhaps low cost loans. I would like to see local citizens who might enjoy a bike or walking trail get on board and help with the fund raising for it. If you like the idea, get some skin in the game! I remain optomistic.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Last evening there was little mention of what the owners of the mall parcels think about the plan to be relocated. Maybe we don't even know yet. My support for the plan would be contingent on the current owners in the mall being fairly compensated and satisfied with the relocation. I wouldn't support any eminent domain claim by the city in this case.

John Roach
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Remember, the Mall is only one part. The others are the Harvester Ave area and the Della Penna site. And nobody knows yet which one might come through first.

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