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October 16, 2019 - 9:22pm

Council reaffirms approval of lease for Batavia Players in City Centre

posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Players, news, city centre, dri, batavia.

A slightly revised lease for property owned by the City of Batavia in the mall for Batavia Players got a renewed objection by Councilman Bob Bialkowski and as was the case in February of 2018, Bialkowski was the lone dissenting vote to approve the lease.

Bialkowski objected to the lease at Tuesday night's council meeting, he said, because it didn't address issues he said were typically in commercial leases -- such as provision for a dumpster, snow removal, parking, after-hour usage, and utilities.

He said the lack of clarity on these issues could lead to a lawsuit against the city and that since it is the first of what may be more leases of city property in the mall, the right precedent needs to be set.

"In my opinion, a good lease makes for good business," Bialkowski said.

He made a motion to rewrite the lease but it failed for lack of a second.

City Attorney George Van Ness said the only change in the lease was an extension of the term in order to meet state requirements for Downtown Revitalization Funds.

The proposal by Batavia Players to move the Harvester 56 Theater on Harvester Avenue to 35 City Centre -- the former Dent Neurological Clinic office, between Genesee Dental and The Insurance Center -- at a total cost of $901,750, was approved by the governor's office as part of the $10 million DRI award to the City of Batavia last year. The state grant will cover $701,750 of the construction costs.

Van Ness said if the city renegotiated the lease to the degree Bialkowski proposed, the past year's worth of work with the state to get final approval for the project would be lost and the process would start from the beginning.

"This is a standard commercial lease," Van Ness said. "It's been used in the past for other properties. It's been approved by Dent counsel. It's been reviewed and approved by counsel for Batavia Players as well as the Department of State.

"So respectfully, it's a standard lease in terms and received prior approval by the council on February 12th, 2018. Many of these same questions were asked and answered at that point in time. They were addressed and council voted at that point seven to one in favor of the lease."

Councilman Paul Viele, a contractor and commercial property owner, told his fellow council members that the lease is a standard "triple net."

A triple net lease means the tenant assumes responsibility for not just the rent, but also all other property expenses such as property tax, insurance, maintenance and utilities.

"I don't think anyone understands that they (Batavia Players) are responsible for most of everything that Bob raises as an issue," Viele said.

The council approved the lease on a 7-1 vote, with Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian absent.

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