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August 16, 2010 - 5:27pm

Cristina's owner ready to donate property for a better future

posted by WBTA News in Cristina's, Ellicott Street, non-profit.

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In the wake of a disheartening fire more than two years ago, the owner of the former Cristina’s Restaurant & Lounge on Ellicott Street plans to re-invigorate his property – by giving it away.

Chuck Brumsted says it’s time to see the remains of his restaurant made useful again.

“Without all the community support we had through (25) years, what Cristina’s was wouldn’t have been possible,” Brumsted says. “So we’d like to take the property as-is and donate it to a not-for-profit organization. And that way it stays in the community, and hopefully a majority of the people will be able to use it.”

He bought the building at 230 Ellicott St. in 1984.

“I basically put the building together…through numerous additions; it was a wreck when I acquired it,” he says.

CristinasExt.jpg

For 25 years, Brumsted operated the restaurant, gaining notoriety in the area and attracting such big governmental names as Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo.

Then in 2008, tragedy struck. A destructive early-morning blaze ripped through the main building. It was declared a total loss and was eventually torn down, leaving an empty lot next to the also-damaged banquet hall.

The cause of that fire was never discovered. Brumsted declines to speak anymore about the fire.

“We don’t want to live in the past."

And so, moving forward with the property is his goal. In all, he estimates about 9,000 square feet is available, including a 5,000-square-foot, non-combustible masonry building.

“One of the ideas that’s been entertained is to take the part that was a two-story frame building, and make green space, a park-like setting. Then take the building that’s left, open up the east wall, and make an open amphitheater.”

Another idea is for a non-profit to simply acquire it and rent the space out for private parties or wedding receptions. Those are just a few of the many ideas Brumsted envisions for the site; he listed off 10 different proposals in a row. None of it is final, of course: Brumsted hasn’t yet secured a non-profit to donate to.

Whatever the cause, Brumsted says he hasn’t even considered any monetary loss he may absorb by giving it away.

“That hasn’t even been discussed. It’d be an honor and a privilege to see the building stay intact and have years and years of use. It’d be a great memory of Cristina’s.”

Any non-profit organization interested in Chuck Brumsted’s offer is asked to contact him by calling (585) 356-0927.

CristinasPDF.jpg

PHOTOS:  top, Cristina's today; inset, Cristina's before fire (courtesy Chuck Brumsted); bottom, re-development plans for former Cristina's site (courtesy Chuck Brumsted).

George Richardson
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“One of the ideas that’s been entertained is to take the part that was a two-story frame building, and make green space, a park-like setting. Then take the building that’s left, open up the east wall, and make an open amphitheater.” That is a great idea, even for a for profit venture. You have an Irish themed bar, why not a German Beir Garten? Me gusta la cerveza, et tu? Is the Ramble deal non profit? Look into it Richard. BTW, what's wrong with profit?
Jason Crater
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As cool as an amphitheatre would be (esp within walking distance of my house), that is a residential area and there would be noise issues.
Irene Will
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Wow. What a generous offer. Hope he finds a really worthwhile group that puts the property to good use for the WHOLE community.
Michele Case
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Well Chuck, we haven't always seen eye to eye but I gotta say, I am impressed. We all have grown up and changed. Good for you. I think the community could benefit so much from your generous donation and it is the perfect area to have something for the whole community. I hope everything is going well for you in your new endeavors. God Bless.
Peter O'Brien
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Nice to see the picture of it completed since it burned before I moved into Batavia.
Robin Murphy
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I think that this would be a great location for Rainbow Preschool in Batavia. It would provide much needed extra space and an outdoor area. They help so many developmentally and physically challenged children in our area it would be a blessing for them to get the space.
Howard B. Owens
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It did break a rule. One you know: No personal attacks.
Howard B. Owens
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Characterize your post how you like, but I'm not going to argue with you about it.
Richard Gahagan
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Let's all get along. Give the vacant land to the city, they seem to like owning an alley. Then maybe the business tycoons on BID would approve of a polka band for an hour a week to revitalize downtown business.
Howard B. Owens
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Just to be clear, George, I'm 100 percent comfortable with taking down your post for violation of the rule of no personal attacks.
Paul Cook
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Moral of the story he doesn't want to pay taxes on land anymore that no one will buy. You can put a turd in a gift box, but when you open it it still is just a turd with fancy trim you end up throwing away. I hope that they decide on something nice, I hate staring at it when i get my haircut.
George Larish II
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is it ok for me to say he is giving away something that someone (insurance company) already paid him for? is that ok howard? thus making him look like something that a lot of people in the area would say he isnt. he isnt losing anything by giving it away other than a double payday. actually, thats not true. anyone here really think this wont be a tax write off on top of the insurance payout he already got? see that? thats a question, not an attack. proper enough for you howie?
Heidi Baylor
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It's too bad folks can't look at the good this might do for the community. Of course there are plenty of those who think they know everything about everyone and therefore miss that. :)
Mark Potwora
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Its been for sale for awhile...Must be no one wanted to buy it..
Paul Cook
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Heidi obviously didn't work for the guy.
Michele Case
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George, I understand where you are coming from. A very good friend of mine worked for Chucky and I disliked him for how he treated her alot of times. Point taken. I do not think however that his generous offer should result in bashing the guy for past mistakes. Live and let live. What goes around comes around. Let Chucky do something good, maybe he owes it to people, maybe he has made amends in other ways. Have ya seen him in awhile? I know I haven't, maybe thats what Heidi meant. Regardless of what benefit might be in it for him, he is doing a good thing for the community that he doesn't have to do. So let him get some good publicity for it, it doesn't hurt anyone. Besides, do you want to scare off everyone who has skeletons in their closet so they never do anything good? Just my 2 cents.
Jason Crater
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firgiving - The act of generously doling out evergreen trees.
Cory Richenberg
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I never thought this would be my first post on this site, but here goes. I don't think that anyone needs to complain whether or not this man gives away his land. Bottom line is that it is HIS land to give away. Whether he is doing it out of generosity, or for a tax right off, doesn't make a bit of difference, it's his land to do what he wants. If it is a good business decision for him, then so be it. I do not know Mr. Brumsted at all. Never met him, so I really don't have an opinion one way or another about his intentions, not that it matters, because he can do what he wants with it, regardless if it is because he doesn't want to pay taxes on it anymore, or if he is being charitable.
I'm sorry, I just busted out laughing at that Jason! Awesome.
Gabor Deutsch
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It would be nice if all the property could be used all year round. I vote for some type of youth or community center.
Jason Crater
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That's what I was going for. :)
kevin kretschmer
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Why would you want two Youth/Community Centers within two blocks of each other?
George Richardson
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Howard, I respect you more every day. George II, I hear you. Smoke 'em if you've got them. I do, I will. Time for a cold one or ten, but stay at home. Chill my friends, and then open a Beer Garten with free movies, projected on the soon to be painted white wall, to the east. Free popcorn for the kiddies will get mom and dad to spend money on themselves. That's a really good thing, for Batavia. I don't know why you didn't think of it already. Lot's of parking nearby is the key to success. Batavia needs to pull money from other places than Batavia if they want to prosper. Make yourselve's a destination town. The vibe is already out there. Capitalize on the positive, eliminate the negative, cast off on the affirmative, and you know the rest.
Richard Gahagan
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Man I don't no what to do, feel like an outsider in my own home town, all y'all are definitely life long Batavian's. Whad do ya do smash yourselves in the head with bricks two or three times a day.
George Richardson
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Richard, when I lived in Batavia I spent as much time soaking up small city life as I could. It has served me well in a big city, where they are not used to our kind. You can be a really big fish in a small pond. Go talk to Howard about it, he'll send you out in search of the news. It sounds like fun to me. It feels better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick but I'm not ready to trade it for a smash in the head with a brick just yet. I've grown fond of my brick.
John Roach
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Richard, Nobody making you stay.
Richard Gahagan
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Not talking to you master of all knowledge that is municipally miniscule, until you tell me why the city owns a small alley and dictates what it can be used for.
John Roach
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Richard, It is an alley, a very small limited use public street. I really didn't believe you didn't know that. Even Austin, TX, has alleys in its older downtown areas. At one time in this type of downtown, alleys were the service area to keep delivery trucks off the main streets. If you notice, many businesses that are adjacent to Jackson Square have back access doors. Since all the business's have access rights to the public alley, the alley itself can not be sold. True, somebody could buy the whole area, and since you are now rich, make an offer. You really didn't know?
Stephanie Armstrong
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How about a youth center? Batavia has too many kids and not enough to do. Result, kids getting in to trouble. Its about time we started providing opportunities for our children!
Melissa Bakker
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I agree with Robin, that would be a terrific location for the Rainbow Preschool. You can't go wrong with providing a clean, safe environment for these children.

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