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Ellicott Station cited for code violations as it languishes

By Joanne Beck
ellicott station savarino business closed
2023 File Photo of Ellicott Station in Batavia, sitting idle with code violations, overgrown weeds and other infractions, as the city's code enforcement department waits for Savarino Companies to rectify them or pay fines and possibly go to court. 
Phot by Howard Owens

City residents may recall a number of years ago when code enforcement officials tamped down on all things unsightly, from overgrown grass and garbage cans left by the curbside to missing address numbers on homes and other property maintenance issues gone awry.

No one is exempt from this policy, and Sam Savarino of Savarino Companies has apparently made the unkempt list for his parcels at 40 Ellicott St. that have apparently been abandoned by the now-defunct Buffalo-based company.

The developer of the stalled Ellicott Station apartment complex received a list of code violations in September, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.

Code Enforcement Officer Douglas Randall sent a letter to Savarino informing him about the violations.

“After visiting the Ellicott Station project site, the Bureau of Inspections has determined that defects in the building envelop may result in weather deterioration of the wood frame structure and freezing damage to plumbing and/or mechanical systems that may contain water used to test newly installed piping.  We encourage you to take all precautions to winterize the residential building,” Randall said. “Please be aware there are building materials scattered throughout the grounds that present an attractive temptation for passersby and habitation opportunities for rodents and other animals. Access openings into the existing masonry building are unsecured and will likely attract unwanted intrusion through the fencing and onto these properties.”

A list of violations was attached that included cleaning up weeds, plants, grass, rank vegetation in excess of 8 inches, and other debris on the premises, and the need to perform some building site work to make sure the property is secure during the lapse in construction. 

Examples of needed work include “the exterior walls into the interior, the exterior finish system is incomplete, and the roof system in unsecured and loose along the top of the walls in various areas. The wood structure of this building must be protected from weather deterioration,” one violation stated. 

"Exterior walls shall be free from holes, breaks, and loose or rotting materials; and maintained weatherproof and properly surface-coated where required to prevent deterioration," another citation states. 

Yet another stated that “Vacant premises, structures and portions thereof, or vacant land shall be maintained by the owner in a clean, safe, secure and sanitary condition as provided herein so as not to cause a blighting problem or adversely affect the public health or safety.” Corrective action was recommended, given that the interior of this masonry building under reconstruction is open to the public and adverse weather, that the exterior doors and windows of this structure must be secured to prevent unauthorized entry and protect the building from further deterioration.”

Deadlines for taking corrective action began Sept 26 and continue into October, with fines starting at $250 for the city to take care of the necessary maintenance.

To her knowledge, those items have not been taken care of yet, Tabelski said.

“The clean-up has not been satisfied,” she said to The Batavian on Tuesday.

When asked if Savarino has been getting hit with fines, she said: "not yet."

"(It) has not gotten to court yet," she said.

Ellicott Station is a low-income housing development on the city’s Southside. Due to financial entanglements, company owner Sam Savarino announced earlier this summer that he was closing his company, which meant the ceasing of construction at Ellicott Station soon after. 

More recently, tenants who were selected for housing in the 55-unit complex received emails notifying them to consider alternate housing since there was no guarantee they would be getting a new home at Ellicott Station.

Tabelski has also been remaining in contact with other agencies, including the state Office of Homes and Community Renewal, which had contracted with Savarino for low-income housing tax credits upon completion of the apartment complex.

She has not heard back from HCR recently, she said, and has “no new information at this point.” The Batavian plans to provide periodic updates on the status of the four-story project as it sits idle on the sidelines of a busy Route 63. 

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