New revolving loan fund intended to spur redevelopment in city, towns and villages
Genesee County Economic Development Center -- through its financing arm, Genesee Gateway LDC -- is committing $500,000 to redevelopment projects in the City of Batavia as well as the business districts of Genesee County's towns and villages.
The money to start the new revolving loan fund is seeded from revenue generated for the LDC by the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, which in the last year has seen two companies construct yogurt plants there.
"Fortunately, some of the risks we've taken and some of our strategies we've taken have created some capital," said GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde said during a joint meeting Thursday of the GCEDC and LDC boards of directors. "I'm now recommending to the local development board to say, 'let's take some of the strategic investment money from the success of the ag park and reinvest it to support the redevelopment activities and revitalization here in the city and the business centers in the towns and villages.'"
The board approved the proposal unanimously.
The vote followed presentations by Batavia Development Corp. Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte and City Manager Jason Molino.
The city, which is largely built out and has some aging industrial and commercial buildings, has been developing a strategy to pursue redevelopment, adaptive reuse and in-fill development.
An example of redevelopment, Pacatte said, is the Masse Gateway project, which took old manufacturing buildings and turned them into office buildings.
Adaptive reuse would be the project now under way to convert the former Carr's warehouse in Jackson Square into retail, office and apartment space.
In-fill would be the kind of project that Pacatte said needs to take place with the Della Penna property on Ellicott Street where there's one building on the property now and another could be added to create more density and expand the range of uses for the property.
"These projects are very difficult to fund," Pacatte said, "the Carr's warehouse for example. It was a warehouse. It's becoming residential and commercial. The condition of the building today, he (the buyer) would never get a traditional mortgage to do anything with that site, so he needed to start with a lot of equity. He has to look for some other opportunities so he can cash flow the project before the the grants will come in on the back end to reimburse him."
The kind of loans available through the new Batavia Micropolitan Redevelopment Fund could have helped the Carr's Warehouse project.
The loans will need to meet a long list of requirements to be granted and can range from $25,000 to $100,000 at 80 percent of prime.
To qualify, a developer would need to have at least a 30-percent equity stake in the project or already have another traditional bank loan in place. Collateral is required and the developer must make a personal guarantee for repayment.
Legislator Marrianne Clattenburg -- who both while City Council president and as a legislator has been critical of the scant attention GCEDC has seemed to pay to redevelopment in the city -- was pleased with today's decision and was on hand to witness the vote.
"It meets what I'm looking for," Clattenburg said. "It's a start. It's a beginning and it's gratifying to see the culmination of what I believe is a partnership that's forming and a recognition that the county development agency should be into redevelopment while it's doing greenfield development. I'm gratified it's coming about and I look forward to much more in the future."
For more than a decade, at least, GCEDC has been focused on building shovel-ready parks to attract manufacturing and other industrial businesses. Its biggest success so far, with the opening of the Alpina and Muller Quaker yogurt plants, has been the ag park.
The LDC will administer the loan fund. GCEDC could become involved in projects where tax abatements are needed to assist the redevelopment effort, Hyde said.
Molino said it's really been a collaborative effort to develop the new program.
"Developing this over the past few months has been a good opportunity for everybody and hopefully there will be more opportunities where the city, the BDC and the EDC can partner and take advantage of some of the development that's happening throughout the county and really help redevelop and improve some parts of the city," Molino said.
I for one am a bit confused. This new initiative is real broad and undefined. GCEDC Hyde says "I'm now recommending to the local development board to say, 'let's take some of the strategic investment money from the success of the ag park and reinvest it to support the redevelopment activities and revitalization here in the city and the business centers in the towns and villages." Does this mean "funding developers at discount interest rates" to fix the streets and roads and infrastructure (in Batavia and parts of Genesee Co) that are so deplorable... or does it mean to provide cheap money for rich entrepreneurs to build new, or renovate old properties and then end up renting/leasing at market rates so 'they the developers' get even richer using taxpayer subsidy?
If this is the case I'd rather they pass out the cheap money to put out more trees and shrubs and hanging plants to give the community more of an appearance that things are well, good jobs must be available here, and a small businessman can open up a new shop and not worry about a Lowe's or a Dick's coming to town via tax subsidy and running him out of business.
Since there are few areas for "shovel ready" business development in the city, loan money to bring back areas like the Della Penna site is great. And the developer/owner has to have real skin in the game.
Considering the annual report from the Authorities Budget Office documenting the dismal failure of GCEDC in producing jobs as promised and citing GCEDC for some of the highest salaries in NYS, I remain skeptical of any initiative by EDC's. let's keep in mind that GCEDC operates with limited oversight and even less transparency. Promsies remain unmet. The oft touted successes of the Alpina and Quaker plants are yet to be fully realized. The best job produced to date by GCEDC is the one held by Mr. Hyde and our local politicians continue to support nice ideas that lack documented results or accountability.
"GCEDC could become involved in projects where tax abatements are needed"
They are needed across the county for everyone.
ALL while that BIG PINK ELEFANT called a mall still roars for help and no one hears it.
Tim... not so sure that mall is roaring fof help much anymore. If the plans for the medical use of it go thru it will become a state of the art medical center. Causing the ripple effect of stregthening the resteraunt, shopping and other such shopping that eventually grows around such centers. It'd be nice but again let wait and see, it just doesnt seem the future is as bleak.
At least as far as the pink elephant goes.
There's still buckets on the floor to catch the water from the leaking roof. Is that ever going to be fixed? I know there's a lot of history there on who is responsible for roof repair. Has that ever been sorted out?
Remember, the mall is privately owned, except for the concourse, and who will own that is in court.
Buckets are there to add to the ambiance
Nothing says Batavia like buckets in the downtown mall. We can spend money on cleaning white off the bricks of the City Hall façade. But not fix the leaks in the mall roof itself.....
Again, who has to pay for fixing the roof is apart of the legal action to get us out of the mall.
Ask how many taxpayers are willing to hike the tax rate to pay for fixing the roof? And then the City would only be fixing the part that is over the concourse. Who would pay to repair the parts that are over privately owned businesses?
Shouldn't the whole mall be covered under an "umbrella" insurance policy?