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November 17, 2009 - 9:24pm

Masse Gateway Project takes first step on development approval process

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Masse Gateway Project.

masse_gateway_rendering.jpg

However slowly and incrementally, the ball is rolling forward on the Masse Gateway Project.

Tonight, property owner Tom Mancuso presented preliminary development plans to the Batavia Planning Board. The plans, sort of a rough sketch of the project, are the first step in an approval process that will involve a few agency reviews and more than a couple of public meetings.

Tonight's meeting was an opportunity for the planning board to see the plans for the first time and offer feedback, before Mancuso invests fully in project planning.

"We’re trying to move forward as quickly as possible, so the first step was to come here and get a review," Mancuso said after the meeting. "We need to do that before we do an application for a demolition permit, which we would like to do as soon as possible. We’re just finalizing construction funding. And just trying to get the appropriate approval so we can move forward as quickly as possible."

Mancuso said he hopes to have a demolition permit within 30 to 60 days.

The Masse Gateway Project will open up the former Masse/Harvester manufacturing plant to an entrance off Masse Place. The initial opening and refurbishing of the buildings around the entrance will potentially bring new business tenants into that part of the facility and help spur further redevelopment of the property into a mix-used business park.

The project is funded in part by a $1.5 million RestoreNY grant.

Mancuso said there is a lot of interest in the space from prospective tenants, but they do want to know when space will be available.

"The activity’s been good," Mancuso said. "It’s just that the hold-up that will continue to be an issue, is the delivery date. People need to know when we can get them in there and we can’t tell them that right now. There’s plenty of interest. It’s going to be a neat looking space. We’re going to be stymied until we can give them a delivery date."

The project plans will need to be reviewed at a city and county level for environmental impact, drainage, parking, Main-Street access, signage, use of utilities, lighting and code compliance. There are unlikely to be many applications for variances from current code, Planning Board Chairman Ed Jones noted, but he also suggested the City Council may want to take an active role in the environmental review process.

"Given that the source of the funding is coming from the city, this may very well be something that the City Council may want to take on as lead-agency status," Jones said. "This is going to be a high visibility project."

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