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May 1, 2014 - 4:58pm

Conversion of former Carr's Warehouse into apartments nearly completed

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Square, 14 Jackson Square.

By the end of the month, 14 Jackson Square -- an address that never existed until recently -- will come to life in a new, and reinvented way.

The former Carr's Department Store Warehouse will contain three two-bedroom apartments (a fourth should be ready by the end of June) and a downstairs office space.

Paul Thompson and his partners will have invested more than $500,000 in the project, with the help of a state grant of $115,000, to convert the three-story structure into a mixed-use space.

The project fits a few of the city's goals to reinvigorate Downtown, said City Manager Jason Molino. It creates more residential space Downtown, more new office space and it converts a building that was doing nothing for the city into something vibrant.

"It takes a building that was always a warehouse and turns it into a useful and meaningful space Downtown," Molino said.

Thompson said his Byron-based company was interested in the project because they have some experience in redeveloping mixed-use spaces. It was a way to provide employment for his workers during the winter, and based on his experience with rental properties in the city, there's a strong demand for apartments designed to appeal to young professionals.

Study after study shows, young professionals want to live in environments where nightlife and shopping are in walking distance and there's a sense of urban life to the neighborhood (related story from USAToday).

This project brings the total of new apartments Downtown to nine, said Julie Pacette, coordinator for the Batavia Development Corp. All of the previous apartments rented to young professionals within days of becoming available.

By assisting Thompson and his partners, Pacette said, a property that was off the tax roles for a few years is now in private, property-tax-paying hands.

Thompson said the project has helped him expand his company. His staff of 14 is now a staff of 20, though not all of the new hires are directly related to this project.

Related: For those interested in new urbanism, the Congress for New Urbanism meets in Buffalo, June 4 though 7.

Paul Thompson

Mary E DelPlato
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can i have some of that grant money??? thats not the grant money for homeowners is it????how much grant money does the city actually have?????

Scott Ogle
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Great looking conversion. Recycling in the best sense.

david spaulding
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the exterior looks terrible, unless maybe they haven't finished with the siding.
I agree with you mary, $115,000 of taxpayer money for a private business.
rather they take that money and clear the land the building stands on, maybe plant a couple of trees.

Bea McManis
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Positive story - cheap potshots. Ho hum

Mark Potwora
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No a good deal for the taxpayer to pay 1/5 the cost to a private person to create a couple apartments...Will this property be assessed at 500,000 dollars?..Even if this property pays 10,000 a year in taxes it will take the city 11 years to get its investment back..Last year the city gave a dentist on Jackson St. 65,000 dollars to create a couple apartments....175,000 dollars of taxpayers dollars to enrich two landlords with rental income...Bad way to spend taxpayer dollars if you ask me..Batavia has too many apartments and not enough private homeowners..

Scott Ogle
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". . .175,000 dollars of taxpayers dollars to enrich two landlords with rental income."

On which they'll pay taxes. Recycling, I say.

Emma Morrill
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Thank goodness I didn't read the ridiculously negative comments in *The Batavian,* before my husband and I moved to Batavia. We may have never relocated to this city, had we been given the impression that the negative nellies on this site are representative of this area! Geez. Every time there's a POSITIVE story -- something GOOD happening in this region -- the same old handful of negative voices come out on these pages to complain. Just a suggestion: why don't you spend less time complaining and, instead, go out and work to make this community better? You know, it's really not *nearly* as bad here as many of you seem to think.

I, for one, am delighted by the prospect and possibility of a more vibrant and diverse downtown Batavia; when all is said and done, this sort of revitalization is likely to attract more downtown dwellers; that, in turn, will help businesses that are already downtown -- and, ultimately, it may even draw *new* businesses to those neighborhoods. BRAVO to the people who are working to make that happen! Positive stories, like this, make me want to stay in this community (cranky naysayers aside).

Scott Blossom
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Ok, I have to jump in now.

$500,000 total cost
- $115,000 tax payer grant
= $385,000 out of Paul Thompson's pocket.

In addition, dead property now back on the tax rolls. More people now employed (income tax, payroll tax, sales tax, etc)

Looking at the basic math, looks like Paul is taking more of a risk than the tax payers.

Yes I have spoken against "corporate welfare", but that was for retailers and profitable companies expanding. This is a bit different. There is no mention of tax differments or all the other perks we hear all the time. Just minor help in this project.

How long will it take to recoup $385,000? Sure won't be out of the first months rent!

Now my disclosure, I went to school with Paul. We were not close friends, didn't travel in the same circles. But I tell you this, he is a good and honorable man. One who earned my respect, which is not easy to to earn. The quality of work he demands is very high and he does not bend from that. This place will in no way be able to be called a slum or a rat trap.

Good luck Paul, nothing but my best wishes and hope for your project.

Mark Potwora
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Scott you said...Looking at the basic math, looks like Paul is taking more of a risk than the taxpayers...Shouldn't he...Isn't that what investing is all about...Why should the taxpayer have to take any risk...He will be reaping the benefits of rent money on a monthly basis..And will also collect when and if he ever sells this building...He will also be able to write off all costs of maintaining this property..Great for him for rehabbing a building he got for nothing..I just don't believe its up to the taxpayers to pay over 20% of the costs of this.........To take tax dollars and give it to another for his personal gain is not the role of government.....Lets just see what the city assess this property for..

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This was a good use of our money this time and I like the idea the building will used. True, it may take time to get our money back, but we'll get it back. And there is a good chance the renters will spend their money here in Batavia, downtown.

Dave Olsen
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Bottom Line: Taxes are too damn high. The city, county, state and federal governments should be concerned with lowering everyone's taxes everywhere across the board! That's the problem, you folks are applauding putting a band aid on a gunshot wound. I suppose it helps, but doesn't fix the problem. Furthermore, if the city has to entice an investor to invest, something is wrong.

Dave Olsen
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Just to be clear. I'm glad Mr. Thompson has decided to do this project, I'm sure it's going to be a nice place to live. I love seeing older buildings preserved and refreshed. It's part of our heritage. I just believe that it is wrong to allow governments to continue to overspend in other areas and overtax the hell out of everyone and justify it by giving breaks to some based on the idea that it will create more tax revenue. Wrong, wrong wrong. It's all backwards and this kind of thing just feeds the beast. This is not being creative or innovative. Finding a way to continue services without extorting more and more taxes and fees would be innovative and creative.

Jeff Allen
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Every suture starts with the first stitch

Howard B. Owens
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Chicken and egg problem, though, in this case it's more like, how do you put the chick back in the egg?

We're over taxed. Check.

Tax breaks should not exist for businesses and individuals in private investments. Check.

But because we're overtaxed and over regulated it's too expensive for businesses to invest in projects. If they don't receive incentives, they won't invest, or invest less. The community suffers. Things fall apart, aren't improved, fewer jobs are created, less tax revenue is generated.

I don't know how you change the system, but I do know I applaud anybody like Paul Thompson or Charlie Cook -- our own community members -- who use the system to incrementally improve life in our community.

Dave Olsen
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True, Jeff, as long as you keep stitching. But a band aid isn't even a stitch.

Howard: You're correct that the problem is systemic. But how will we ever fix it if we keep on feeding it. Picking winners and losers, shifting the burden around is a shell game, it doesn't lower the scope and cost of government. That is critical. The rest of the problem is one you yourself have pointed out, people in NY State have become so dependent on government to solve their problems. It's a sick kind of co-dependency. Folks want the government and their elected officials to make jobs come back, make the economy improve, fix the roads, fight off the bad guys, protect the environment, feed the hungry, house the poor, etc etc etc. Government then takes more and more of our money and liberties and derides those who object as "negative nellies". They then decide who gets help and who does not. That is called tyranny.

I'd say it's suspect, at best that business investors who use the system are improving life in the community. The community improves its own life; If it wants to that is. Expecting big daddy (government programs) to do that is wishful thinking, lazy and uninspiring.

Howard B. Owens
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It's all fine and good to be philosophical about the nature and scope of the problems, but they're big problems that you're never going to solve.

I live in reality. I want people in our community with the means to invest in our community anyway possible and I'm not going to begrudge them making good business decisions about financial aid. To me that's putting my own theoretical imagination ahead of here-and-now reality.

"The community improves its own life ..." And that's what's happening here and with Liberty Pumps. Members of our own community are taking positive steps to improve the quality of life and create jobs. They should be applauded not torn down.

Dave Olsen
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Gee Uncle Howard,thanks so much for the schooling. I guaran - damn - tee you I live in the world of reality. Not pollyanna. I'm not tearing anyone down either, I just don't think that giving tax breaks to some while raising taxes on others is right. That's reality. I think guys like Mr Cook and Mr Thompson will do just fine without government largess. They have obviously made good business decisions and would continue to do so. If an investment is a good idea, then someone will do it, if not, then they won't. Enticements are a false sense of reality. You want investment and new folks moving into the area? Then you do it by lessening the burden across the board, and getting creative about how we fund the necessities of government.

Howard B. Owens
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I'm just sharing my point of view. That's OK, isn't it?

Mary E DelPlato
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How is investing in a few gona help the whole? Vibrant Batavia???ha! Batavia has crawled in he growth section. I look at it this way...add up all the empty buildings and houses .....its dying...its a sleeper town...most batavians work out of batavia...when sam pontillos idea of bringing one of gcc s buildings downtown was shot down that's when the hope of vibrancy diminished...main street has nothing for me on a day to day basis....there is a lack of people making it a quiet empty lil village after five and on weekends....brockport is vibrant...east aurora is vibrant...batavia is sad...and I blame city council for making wrong decisions....batavia will turn into a rental town....

Mary E DelPlato
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I'm not being a negative nellie...being realistic and looking at how it really is...boring!...what's there to do?????not much...my house is in dire straights but my taxes are paid...when I was unemployed and did without...my taxes were paid....too bad I have no control how they're spent...just like the county and federal....foolish spending

Dave Olsen
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Of course, you know I value your point of view, as well as most others. If you address me like a 12 year old in a public forum and call me a philosopher who doesn't live in the economic "real" world, you can expect a retort. :>) But never any hard feelings

Mark Potwora
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Is there anything in New York State that a business can do with out taking some taxpayer dollars to do it....Is a person talking welfare or food stamps any different from some one taking taxpayer dollars to remodel and old building or a sales tax exemption..All this money comes from someone elses labor in the form of taxes..Aren't they both using the system to better themselves.....The one business downtown that i respect is Olacy's.That owner never took a dime of grant money and he seems pretty successful..

Phil Ricci
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I have long said that if you can give me a tax break to do something, then you shouldn't be charging me that tax in the first place. :-)

I'm happy to see the development downtown. Great Job!!!

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