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Should the mall become a college campus?

By Howard B. Owens

During Summer in the City, I had a chance to chat with Assemblyman Steve Hawley.  Of course the subject of the mall came up, and a friend/supporter/consitutent (I'm not sure which best applies) standing nearby chimed in and said he thought the mall should be turned into a college campus.

That idea, though I gather it's not a new one, has some merit.

The influx of students would be a boon for downtown restaurants and bars, and the foot traffic of people to those businesses would help other retail establishments. 

However, such a solution would do nothing to deal with the "eyesore of a mall" issue, and by not tearing down the building and creating new Main Street-facing structures, you're making it harder to profitably relocate current mall occupants who might wish to stay downtown.

Still, a two- or four-year campus (could the New York university system be enticed into an extension campus?) would generate a lot more people traffic in the city's core.

Setting aside for a minute the logistics and difficulties of making it happen, what do you think -- is a college campus a viable alternative to the current sputtering, life-sapping, soul-sucking mall?

John Roach

It is not a bad idea. Over time there will be more space not used and it could be an off site campus for a 4 yr school or an overflow for GCC. Business, like Penny's and the theater would not be involved. Some current business owners might be willing to sell their property. We would be better off keeping some medical offices that might want to have student interns from a nursing program (?).

The exterior of the building could be changed, but I would want a tax break for the owners who did this on their own to make it fair.

Now, if the City and MMA can agree on a small group of two or three people to look into this, that would be great.

Aug 18, 2008, 4:14pm Permalink
Laura Russell Ricci

That's one of the best ideas I've heard besides tearing it down!! Makes sense, so lets do it. I'll even chip in and do some of the work

Aug 18, 2008, 5:07pm Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

That is an excellent idea. I am a SUNY Brockport grad, and they did something similar. They had taken a former building in downtown Rochester and turned it into what they call a metro campus. It works out very well, allowing many night and Saturday courses. MCC has a metro campus as well. Both utilize the location very wisely. If GCC were to adopt the idea from Brockport and MCC, I feel it could benefit many entities quite positively. I'd love to get on a committee researching this idea!

Aug 19, 2008, 3:33pm Permalink
lazario ladou

That place is and always has been a fortress. Batavia cannot support an indoor mall, IMO
Start over. Deconstruct/Remodel/Demolish.
Turn a dank hideout for rural youth and geezers into a community outdoor/open air/covered/promenade "center"

Open air "mall" in WNY? Why not? We need life and life is about new experiences. Batavia has some new THINGS going on but all packaged up into the existing Batavia we've known forever or else stuck out in the middle of Home Depot land where nothing but dirt ever lived.

Make it inviting. A college campus is not inviting ..not in a small town. It would be another austere eyesore and community neighborhood divider like that/those big supermarket/parking lot LatiJubiBankSupeDupe blocks of space. The exterior HAS to change for it to change. It's no gem worth saving.

Batavia is half nice and half Who the Heck Stuck THAT there!?

Turn it into a well maintained stroll that ALSO has some shops, music store, office space, restaurants, movie theater and whatnot. Put some studio apartments above a few of the shops. Do something interesting with the space.
Keep it quaint. Make it hip. No airtight prison. Small shops juxtaposed to larger "restaurants etc" that have outdoor areas on the street side as well as promenade/courtyard interior. Already have a nice new structure to flank one end of it with.
Pedestrian traffic only. Turn Jubilee -I still call it that- into the parking spot for the mall. Tear that structure down while you're at it.

Batavia can support something like this as long as you put to rest some of these damn tired strip malls.

Funding? Eh.

Aug 20, 2008, 7:35am Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

The mall is surely as dull looking as the GCC campus so why not ?
The facelift on the front gives false expectation to whats inside. My understanding is that the interior wires plumbing and other expensive upgrades need to be done now reguardless of what stays or comes. They should have torn down and rebuild or sell before adding exspensive facelift.
There still are so many things that can be done to improve the use of the building.
Making it a city or county building and consolidate various agencies that work together anyway, like DMV, clerks, you get the idea.
Maybe sell it to a company that will create many new jobs for Batavia. I know it sounds crazy because of all the pollution and traffic a company creates. Its almost as bad for the community as a CASINO!

Aug 20, 2008, 3:23pm Permalink
John Roach

Sounds good, but!
Every property in the Mall is individually owned, unlike every other mall in the USA. Each property owner had had a chance to sell a few years ago to a developer, but a few held out, a few just didn’t want to sell and the whole deal fell through. So much for that. Nobody else has offered to buy all the property and nobody is likely to.

In addition, many medical services have now moved into the mall. With UMMC (St. Jerome’s) across the street, that’s not a bad idea. Maybe it can become a medical office center?

As for moving all government operations into the “mall”, that would take it off the tax roles. On top of that, what are you going to do with the vacant government buildings left empty if they moved? Then you’re stuck with them also off the tax rolls.

The problem with the mall is the contract between all the owners and the city over who takes care of what. This is not going to be resolved by negotiation; that has failed year after year. It will end up in court and will be decided there. Then the mall can go forward

Aug 20, 2008, 4:09pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

You read it here first. I was reading my Daily news today and what did I see ? On the bottom right hand corner of the front page ? What Mr. Roach was so kindly to sum up for me and everyone else about "genesee country mall".

"The problem with the mall is the contract between all the owners and the city over who takes care of what. This is not going to be resolved by negotiation; that has failed year after year. It will end up in court and will be decided there. Then the mall can go forward". Mr. Roach wrote.

After reading the article I realized that I am not alone in feeling that the "mall" situation is being made so complicated with political undertones that not much can be change soon enough for anyone involved directly. Especially with the current "attitudes" from all parties involved right now.

You own this part, I own that. You fix this part, then I will do that. When you share something you have work together to take care of what you share even if it means a compromise.

Unless a serious crime has been commited, this situation should have never gone to court. I am starting to agree with Joanne Beck of when she wrote :
"Mr. Mitchell Chess says: Basically, the mall is the Batavia's fast ferry" (beck,the daily news 8/23).

That maybe where this "mall thing" is heading and the outcome is a fact.


Aug 23, 2008, 3:00pm Permalink

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