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Governor Cuomo announces eight 'transformational projects' for Batavia as part of $10 million award

By Billie Owens


Steve Hyde, CEO of the GCEDC and co-chair of the DRI Local Planning Committee, Rachel Tabelski, new director of the Batavia Development Corp., Pat Burk, director of Batavia Players, Beth Kemp, director of the Business Improvement District, and Matt Worth, interim city manager.

Statement from Rachel Tabelski:

“Batavia is thrilled to see the announcement of the DRI projects today, and we want to thank Governor Cuomo and his administration for their support. The DRI funding will continue to transform Downtown Batavia into a vibrant center of business, dinning, shopping and entertainment.  The three guiding principals of the DRI included healthy living, arts and entertainment, and prosperity for all which will be achieved through these projects. The Batavia Development Corporation is ready to assist, not just the projects that were funded, but to work with the projects that were not selected to help them move forward,” said Rachael Tabelski, director of Economic Development for the Batavia Development Corporation.

UPDATE, statement by Assemblyman Steve Hawley: 

“I am overjoyed with the City of Batavia receiving this $10 million grant from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative award. These investments in Downtown Batavia will help create new development, turn public space into valuable community uses, and improve delivery of local healthcare. It will go an immensely long way to revitalize Batavia’s business district, increase downtown housing and retain and attract jobs, and employers locally,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia).

Press release the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced eight transformational projects for Batavia as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award.

The strategic investments in downtown Batavia will help to drive new, mixed-use development, improve access to local healthcare, and transform public space for community use. The investments are part of the Governor's ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities for the Finger Lakes.

"Through smart investments and sustainable development, we are transforming Batavia's downtown and generating prosperity throughout Western New York," Governor Cuomo said. "These projects will help to not only preserve Batavia's rich history and character, but they will enhance the city as a destination and act as an engine for future growth for the entire region."

Batavia was named a DRI Round 2 winner in October. The downtown area is a mixed-use, affordable neighborhood with access to jobs, anchor businesses, and city and county services. The area has an excellent foundation upon which to continue its revitalization, including amenities such as recreational sites, healthcare facilities, food markets, a library, and various retail and restaurant venues in a walkable environment.

The eight specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:

1) Create a Thriving Residential and Commercial Hub on the site of the former Della Penna property by constructing a new mixed-use development on the vacant and abandoned industrial brownfield. The new Ellicott Station will contain mixed-income residential units, four commercial spaces, and a brewery/restaurant and will leverage more than $20 million dollars in grants and private investment, become a thriving residential/commercial anchor for downtown Batavia. ($425,000)

2) Rehabilitate the Former Genesee Bank and the Carr's Department Store Buildings for Mixed-Used Redevelopment. The first floor of the buildings, which have been vacant for more than five years, will be renovated for commercial uses, including a new cidery/café and retail and office incubator space. New mixed-income upper-floor residential units on the upper floors will provide additional housing options for downtown residents. ($1,000,000)

3) Establish Ellicott Place as New Mixed-Use Gateway to Downtown by renovating a large, underused building at a prominent location on Ellicott Street to include three first-floor commercial spaces, first-floor covered parking, and 10 upper-floor residential units. A new elevator and facade upgrades will improve access and instill community pride in a previously chronically vacant space. The redevelopment of this 48,121-square-foot building will complement the nearby Ellicott Station project and establish a new gateway to the downtown. ($1,150,000)

4) Develop an Intergenerational Healthy Living Campus in the Heart of Downtown, including a new home for the Genesee Area YMCA. The centrally located facility will include a 55,000- to 60,000-square-foot building and parking for 300 cars. Together with a complementary medical building planned for the site of the former YMCA building, the project is expected to generate 3,000 visits downtown daily. ($4,075,000)

5) Establish a New Regional Performing Arts Center at Batavia City Centre by renovating the façade and interior of the city-owned building. The new visually prominent and centrally located downtown theater will feature space for offices, concessions, retail, and a dance academy, and will augment nightlife and weekend activity. ($700,000)

6) Support Downtown Building Improvements by creating a Building Improvement Fund that will provide grants to assist downtown property owners to undertake both interior and exterior renovations. Building improvements will enhance the aesthetics and livability of the downtown core and provide opportunities for new entrepreneurs to establish their businesses. ($600,000)

7) Transform City Centre into an Indoor Market and Performance Space by upgrading the concourse and entrances to accommodate an indoor marketplace with micro-retail kiosks and public performance space to hold community events. Improvements will include flooring, lighting, entrance structures, wall color, and roof upgrades. ($1,000,000)

8) Enhance Jackson Square, a public gathering space bordered by historic buildings in the heart of downtown, with decorative pavement upgrades, a multi-level deck/stage, seating, lighting, decorative signage, a networking nook, and landscaping. The upgraded public plaza will become a lively hub and common space for community interaction, and provide connections to multiple businesses through its unique alleyway node configuration. ($750,000)

"Growing the downtown core of the City of Batavia is an important part of our Finger Lakes Forward initiative," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Batavia is at the heart of a growing and diverse regional economy in Upstate New York.

"From the arts, to agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and entrepreneurial startup companies, great things are happening in Batavia and across the region. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects announced today will foster more growth throughout Batavia's central business district, creating jobs and transforming this historic part of Genesee County."

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The City of Batavia will see great benefit from these investments, and we are excited to see these plans come to fruition. Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative is an effective way to bring transformative growth to communities across the state while bringing out our collective competitive spirit."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Projects in Batavia supported through the DRI will help create an inviting, engaging downtown that will encourage investments and growth in new businesses, and quality of life improvements for its residents and visitors."

NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Through Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative, these community-led, targeted investments will combine with HCR's $379 million investment in the Finger Lakes over the last seven years that has created affordable housing for about 12,200 residents to help ensure that as Batavia's economy grows, all New Yorkers have the opportunity to take part. In New York State, we are lucky to have a Governor who understands how to build inclusive, long-term economic success."

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer said, "This first part of $10 million in state investment will help revitalize our local neighborhoods and move our Upstate economy forward. Each one of these eight transformational projects will take downtown Batavia to the next level."

Eugene Jankowski Jr., Batavia City Council president, said, "Today's announcement of Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative is exciting news for the City of Batavia and our downtown district. We are thrilled for the projects that were chosen and the City will be ready to assist them move forward. We are also dedicated to work with all the project owners that applied to the DRI, but did not receive funding to help them succeed in their plans here in Batavia. In all, the DRI investment could yield over $40 million in private investment directly into the downtown core of our city and that will bring prosperity to all."

Intermim Batavia City Manager Matthew Worth said, "The City of Batavia is very excited by the DRI announcement and for this investment into its downtown. These projects will be an infusion of activity into Batavia's downtown that will give momentum for additional projects to move forward. The City is prepared to partner with the Batavia Development Corporation and the Genesee County Economic Development Corporation to assist any and all proposed projects. The City is grateful to the Governor's office to have been included in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Congratulations to the award recipients!"

Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center and Batavia DRI Local Planning Committee co-chair, said, "Through a collaborative process, we have identified various private and public projects that have been vetted publicly. We are confident these projects will further our mission of growing our economy and revitalizing our urban core as peacemaking and downtown redevelopment is such a critical piece of today's live, work and play models required by our multi-generational community.

"These projects will be a catalyst for future private sector investments as we continue our collaborative efforts to redevelop the city of Batavia. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his vision to invest in placemaking and downtown revitalization across New York and for his confidence in Batavia and Genesee County's enabling its continued growth and redevelopment."

Finger Lakes Forward

Under the Finger Lakes Forward initiative, the State is investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion -- and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

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