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The Mall

By Amy Davis

I don't want to get into the whole "mall" thing with public comments, but I need to say that the Batavia Mall was never a big seller here. Most were angry about the demolition of terrific historical buildings. (I remember them).  Yet the "Urban Renewal" thing took over, they took down Batavia's history, and built the most ugly structure this city has ever seen!  I used to fly kites in the parking lot in the early 1980s because it was EMPTY. 

The deal between the people in the mall and the city has never been good, just check the old archives of news. I'm only going on what I remember, my folks discussing it, and my ability to have an open space downtown (parking lot) to fly a kite, where there used to be buildings, cars and people! The so-called Mall has been a failure since day one. God Bless the folks who try (& have tried in the past) to keep it alive. It's a dead horse and has been since they built it. 

Now we're concerned about bird droppings and new signs to bring more people to visit a dead horse? It's like inviting people to a cemetary. There are many great places on Main St. & Ellicott St. for rent that would help to bring the people back, and the rent is less (Remember help from B.I.D, grants, low interst loans, etc).The few survivors of the "Genesee Country Mall" would still see their patrons if they moved to a cheaper, better place.

Maybe raze part of it, and let the kids fly kites, or better yet, let them play football.

We need government that works TOGETHER! 


Charlie Mallow

I could not agree more! It's come to the point that if we do put money into the mall, it should be used to demolish parts of it. The mall is an eyesore and destroys the character of the city.

Aug 10, 2008, 11:40am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

I think there is enough people on council who would act if we had a good plan. But, since the Benderson plan fell apart there hasn't been anyone with a plan.

Tear down city hall? LOL We have a lot of payments left. I would be interested in the corridor to end the cities interest.

Aug 10, 2008, 1:05pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what Mark is saying ...

Can the EDC and/or BID help find investors ... the best plan wouldn't involve tax payer money, and especially no federal government involvement, no grants, unless there are absolutely no strings.

Aug 10, 2008, 1:09pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

It would be a long process. It would take a public effort to look for options. This step would require political will and an end to this notion that we as a community need to be throwing money into that dead horse of a mall. I fully understand that this new dirrection would not be the easy route. The easy route is to waste taxpayer money for a new roof. We need to start looking for another option. How much political support is there is for taking this on and fixing the mall once and for all is up in the air. The argument around this issue isn't pro mall property owners or against. We as a city need to find a new use for that property and stop throwing money down a hole.

Aug 10, 2008, 1:33pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

Charlie..hah i didnt mean tear down city hall...just the mall concourse that the city is on the hook we dont have to worry about repairing a roof any more..could be cheaper then repairing it..because you know that will be the next big budget item to come up..lets nip it in the bud and start talks of just opening up the roof...think about wont have to pay to heat or cool any of that you might create some nice store would sure be nice in the summer, not like now all dark and dirty

Aug 10, 2008, 3:21pm Permalink
John Roach

It will be hard to get control of the mall mess with people like Councilman Bob Bialkowski, being paid by the mall and his wife running it, and then trying to pour more tax money into it. It doesn't help that his buddy Councilman Cox goes along with this.

Aug 10, 2008, 6:56pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

John ..maybe if they see that most of the people of this city are for it..then the pressure would be to great...all i ever here from bill cox is how he is for what ever the people want..lets call him out on that..Maybe Charlie can get the city manager to come up with a couple of estimates on how much it would cost to do it..just lets see how much it would cost..If the mall merchants see that the city is for real about doing something like this they might start to rethink sueing the city and trying to find some kind of means to an end...that gets the city out of the mall business..

Aug 10, 2008, 7:40pm Permalink
Amy Davis

I like Mark's idea of an open concourse, maybe like a small street with the shops on both sides,(not necessarily facing Main St., but visible and enticing). I can vision this! Keep the City Hall part, of course, that's the best part of the mall! To carry it a bit further, turn the old hospital into a medical office complex, for those who are currently in the mall(& others who occupy the Washington Ave. buildings & elsewhere). Medical needs are growing in this area, we may draw more doctors, nurses, and medical people to this area if there were nice facilities for them. People going to visit their Dr. may take a walk to visit these shops and restaurants. The employees there would visit during lunches, etc. Am I going too far? I love this city, and it's growing! We need to grow with it!

Aug 10, 2008, 9:13pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Except, that doesn't do anything to solve the problem originally created by the construction of the mall ... the turning away from Main Street, and what it did to businesses downtown.

A new mixed-use complex of retail, offices and apartments facing Main Street would help create more business for all of downtown.

Aug 10, 2008, 9:38pm Permalink
John Roach

Turning away from Main Street is not the problem if you go with an open concourse. There is no parking on Main Street. One of the reasons people go to malls is for the parking. Main Street owners will have to find a way to get people back like Corning did. They will need tax breaks, but were still in debt. The Mall could attract people downtown, but you need small specialty shops there, not more medical offices. Maybe the City could give tax breaks to small retail shops who open up there to give them a chance? We also need to change the outside look of the Mall to match City Hall.

Aug 11, 2008, 5:28am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

You've got to have some Main-facing businesses, otherwise that part of Main is a big black hole (kind of like it is now), which detracts from the overall ambiance of Main, making it a less attractive place to be.

Corning is a great example.

The parking lot, I don't think, needs to be as big as it is now. The Jackson street lot is pretty big and is often not all that full now.

Apartments as part of the complex would also bring residents downtown to help support small shops. They might need their own parking garage.

I'm sure there would be a way to accommodate both interior shops and Main-facing.

The project only seems worthwhile if it benefits all of downtown, which is how best to benefit all of Batavia, if not all of Genesee County.

Aug 11, 2008, 7:00am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Just so everyone is clear. Before you can do anything with the mall you need another developer like Benderson who wants to invest in the area. I am all for talking about is topic so that ideas for future development can come foward.

Howard sending emails to the radio that I am in favor of buldozing the mall without a plan, couldn't be farther from the truth. Howard re-read what I said. Things like this take time and need a public will to obtain.

Aug 11, 2008, 10:39am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

@Charlie You misscharacterize what I pointed Dan Fisher to. I sent Dan a link, that is all, with a comment that I thought your saying the mall should be torn down is newsworthy. I never said you didn't have a plan. I didn't use the word plan at all. Dan can read your comments for himself and decide how, if, and where the story is, if any. I merely brought it to his attention. So why would you want to make an issue of it and accuse me of saying things I didn't say?

Obviously, there has to be a plan, and there has to be a public will. Hopefully, these last couple of days discussion on the topic can help get that ball rolling in that direction.

Aug 11, 2008, 11:03am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

"Charlie Mallow supports tearing down the mall" is what you said. The long conversation platform of TheBatavian doesn't fit in a 12 second radio spot. You were trying to hype it up and put people in a frenzy. If that is your new purpose, expect a lot less from me.

Aug 11, 2008, 11:34am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

And "Charlie Mallow supports tearing down the mall" is accurate and hardly hype, based on how I read your original comment.

To quote:

"I could not agree more! It's come to the point that if we do put money into the mall, it should be used to demolish parts of it. The mall is an eyesore and destroys the character of the city."

Pretty strong stuff, said in a very public way. When the City Council President makes strongly worded statements like that, it's news, regardless of the forum. I alerted Dan to a comment that I found newsworthy.

The only thing sensational here is your own quote. It isn't hype to alert other media to your statement.

But isn't all of this is a distraction? If you really believe what you say, that the mall is an eyesore and destroys the character of the city, wouldn't you WELCOME more publicity to the issue?

You're arguing about how the story was handled, when any further publicity can only add to and serve the purpose of generating public support for getting rid of said eyesore.

So do you want to fix the problem or would you rather spend more time on accusing us of hype and sensationalism?

As for us, we will continue to pursue the story because we believe this is a critical issue to the future of Batavia. We will do more coverage because we believe by generating more conversation and generating more interest in the topic, maybe some positive steps can be taken toward raising public awareness (hell, maybe even the Daily News will cover it). I don't see how this can possibly bother you, unless you didn't really mean what you said.

Aug 11, 2008, 1:12pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

News isn't me saying, I want something. News is all the other players working to create a worthwhile change. Your jumping the gun to help promote your site. Your attempted hype could only hurt the cause of making positive change in regards to the mall property. All people would end up hearing is that the mall is to be torn down without any questions being answered. Why the change in direction? What happened to the lofty ideals you started this site with? How are you different than the paper or radio? Dan at WBTA has proven over and over again that he is just interested in the story, he won't report what people say when they are emotional, he isn't looking for the quick hit or fix. This format is great for throwing out ideas and seeing what people think. You can see the process of understanding develop to an end. You attempted to put parts of thoughts out and play them up.

Aug 11, 2008, 2:26pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Charlie, you're the City Council President. When you say you would like to see something happen, it's news.

And everything we've done in this case is right in keeping with the ideals of the site ... bringing out issues, promoting conversation, getting people talking about issues important to the community.

So you threw out an idea -- a great idea, I think -- and it deserves the widest audience possible; the more people involved in the conversation, whether on The Batavian, or at chamber mixers or in their living rooms, the better.

Yes, does getting a story we generated mention on WBTA help promote the site? Sure. Is that my only motivation in trying to bring more attention to the story? Hell, no. I think it would great for downtown to get rid of that eyesore of a mall. Honestly, that is my primary motivation. I'm proud that we provided the forum for you to make such a newsworthy statement and it would be great for more people to know that, but the news is the news regardless of how or where it started.

Mr. Mallow, tear down that mall!

Aug 11, 2008, 2:41pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Nice play on words using Reagan’s Berlin Wall quote. The mall is a lot like Batavia’s Berlin Wall, Downtown Business will never prosper as long as it exists. The one thing about that wall in Berlin was that it took a lot of people to actually bring it down, not just one person. This is the same way our mall will come down. Once there is enough will to save ourselves.

Aug 11, 2008, 3:28pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Well, let's generate the will. It takes like-minded people speaking out (as you did), and then leaders like you following through.

When might this issue appear on the Council agenda?

We've e-mailed Jason some questions to help explain any potential process, what's needed and what might be done. As far as I know, we're still waiting a response.

Aug 11, 2008, 3:44pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

We have only achieved an idea. The will to follow a different path has to be acted on and spoken allowed on the 18th. I will not be voting for a new sign, I will not be supporting repairs to the building. Next a show of support would be needed for council to ask the city manager to look into finding an alternative plan. That will cost the city money to develop. If there is real support then those people should speak on the 18th against spending anymore money going down the same path on the mall.

Aug 11, 2008, 4:13pm Permalink
Amy Davis

I didn't think I would start an argument, I only wanted to voice my opinion and present an idea. If there are arguments, it will definitely deter people from voicing their own thoughts on the subject. The media needs to be open to new ideas without attacking every word a "person of office" has to say. Arguments aren"t going to solve anything you guys! Let"s hear some positive talk, so we can get more local people involved.

When I said "small street" I meant a "walking street" area with an open concourse, not vehicles. There really isn't much space left facing Main, now that the banks are there. Parking is also used now by those banks, The Office for the Aging, Vets Services, the YMCA,& Go Art along with those in the Mall. I think the idea (and that's all it is)could work! A medical office complex in the St. Jerome building, draws more people. A higher quality health care HERE, keeps people here. More to add to the "downtown" thing. Am I crazy or does this sound nice? The whole "Main St. idea has lost it's flare. Once the afore mentioned was done, more businesses would be able to survive on the South side of Main, and people would be back! All the talk is about turning Batavia into the quaint little town it used to be, that will never I said in an earlier post, we are growing, and we need to grow with it!

As far as money, I know that's really tough, especially now, but with some backing, and help "we" can do this.

Aug 11, 2008, 10:31pm Permalink
Philip Anselmo

Amy: I don't think anyone was attacking anyone else. I know that we were excited to hear someone "of office" talk about a project with such major implications as demolishing parts of the mall. It's a conversation that should be had, and we were only doing our part to provoke further discussion, hopefully positive, though you can't flat out dismiss the negatives, they will come, and they can contribute to a better understanding.

What we really need at this point are the facts. I sent a few questions to City Manager Jason Molino yesterday morning inquiring about... in fact, here are the exact questions I asked:

1. What would it take for the city to consider demolishing the mall? Is this a possibility?

2. Have the city and mall officials ever sat down to discuss such a possibility?

3. If there was public support for tearing down the mall, or at least pursuing major renovations that would open it up, what could the city do?

I still have not heard from him.

I've since come up with some more questions, and we're in the process of doing some further research, since background and knowledge are what will make for a productive — better term than positive, here, I think — discussion.

Aug 12, 2008, 11:11am Permalink

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