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November 17, 2022 - 7:00am

City Centre by design: taking new approaches to an old structure

posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city centre, notify, mall.

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Four designs for entryways into Batavia City Centre were unveiled this week to mall merchants and City Council members.

The designs vary from one another at each of the four locations — including near the former Sunny’s, Hawley Insurance, and Le Beau Salon.  One design builds on the red brick exterior with doors and windows to let in the sunshine; another one leads into a glass vestibule and has a large hanging basket of flowers nearby; a third one features multiple hanging flower baskets with a sloping structure above it, resembling a slight roller coaster effect; and yet another entrance goes a bit wild with low maintenance greenery, and a bench.

Craig Jackson of Batavia Stagecoach Florist spoke on behalf of fellow merchants.

“They thought it looked pretty good,” he said. “The one near Sunny’s is a little fancier. It’s a fairly decent design of entryways to make the place look a little better.”

There was also some relief that there would be no more silo-style entrances, he said. Silos were originally built as separate areas from the mall, and they have collected a lot of water spots and damage over the years from a poorly designed roof.

"Basically, you're seeing a design still with a vestibule, but a very welcoming entrance into the space,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said during City Council’s meeting this week. “Hunt Engineers has been working on this for the last six months.”

As soon as Hunt finalizes the design and related documents, the project will be put out for bid, she said.

“Ideally to begin by spring,” she said.

The city has $1 million of grant money set aside for the project.

"Right now, we believe that the entire million dollars will be dedicated just to redoing the silos at this point with construction costs. But we want to put in some other alternates in the project such as flooring and painting," she said. "The existing mall maintenance crew has been taking down ceiling tiles, and we're looking to see if we can repaint those ceilings similar to what we did here at City Hall. So just multiple different ways to spruce up City Centre." 

Aside from new ideas for mall facelifts, city officials have been trying out a mall market on select Saturdays. They are encouraged by the gradual increase of vendors and foot traffic. Jackson has noted an uptick of customers during these Saturday mornings, he said.

“I’ve gotten more traffic in the store because of it,” he said. “It has brought people in here on the weekends … about 10 to 15 more customers and they're buying things, that’s good for us.”

Current mall maintenance staff work on Saturdays, and are available to assist vendors with set-up, Tabelski said. There has been no overtime so far, and the whole market idea is “a beta test,” she said, which is an opportunity for real-time vendors and shoppers to use the market and test it out to uncover any issues before more fully launching it.

Vendors bring in their own tables and supplies, and the concourse can accommodate up to a 10-foot-high truck of goods to fit inside if necessary.

“We think it’s going well, we definitely want to see more activity with vendors and shoppers,” Tabelski said.

The next market is scheduled from 8 to 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, and nine vendors are registered to participate. Vendors include the core staples of Porter Farms, Tastefully Simple and Garner Farms, plus Dilcher’s Concessions, Gracefully Designed, Flint’s Maple, and Wright’s Homestead.

The market is also scheduled for Nov. 26, Dec. 10, and Dec. 17.

For those people that have criticized the city for putting any more money into City Centre, Tabelski said it makes no sense to do otherwise.

“We have a very large space in our downtown, whether we agree with how and why it got here. There is no value for doing nothing,” she said. “The merchants deserve a whole lot of respect from the community. They are offended when people say ‘just tear it down.’ We need to be creative with small programming.”

Those merchants — property owners within City Centre — have invested their lives and livelihoods into that space, she said, and the city needs to invest as well. Second-floor apartments are “a complete option” as a way to repurpose the mall building, and potentially “get the property back into private hands,” she said.

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Renderings of City Centre entrance designs courtesy of City of Batavia.

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