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December 21, 2022 - 8:08am

Genesee County granted $540k for Healthy Living project

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Although it wasn’t as much as officials could have hoped for, a Restore NY grant has been approved to help with the expenses of the Healthy Living project in downtown Batavia.

In August, Genesee County Legislature agreed to serve as the applicant on behalf of the new campus to merge a portion of United Memorial Medical Center and GLOW YMCA services. The grant limit was up to $2 million, and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday that a grant of $540,000 had been awarded.

Funds will be used to demolish the old 55,000-square-foot YMCA, and a 10,000-square-foot obsolete boiler house owned by Rochester Regional Health-UMMC, which will provide space to accommodate a new downtown park and parking.

The project was selected as a priority Downtown Revitalization Initiative project and is also supported by the Batavia Brownfield Opportunity Area plan. 

More than $102 million was awarded to 64 projects through the Restore New York Communities Initiative. Restore New York supports municipal revitalization efforts across the state, Hochul’s office stated in a press release.

Those efforts to help remove blight, reinvigorate downtowns and generate economic opportunity in communities statewide. The program, administered by Empire State Development, is designed to help local governments revitalize their communities and encourage commercial investment, improve the local housing stock, put properties back on the tax rolls and increase the local tax base.

Once approved, the grant is to “flow through the county,” County Manager Matt Landers had said during the application process.

The grant is to go toward some of the demolition costs of the GLOW YMCA site between Wiard and Bank streets. The county can charge up to $10,000 for administrative costs, “which should be more than enough for us to cover our costs,” Landers had said.

"These Restore New York grants will help to reimagine downtowns across our state and transform vacant, blighted, and underutilized buildings into vibrant community anchors," Hochul said in the release. "Thanks to $102 million of state investment, we are breathing new life into communities from Hudson to North Hempstead, jumpstarting new economic activity, and ensuring that New York State continues to be a place where people come to live, work, and raise their families." 

New life for downtown Batavia is to come from the partnership of RRH-UMMC and GLOW YMCA to develop a $33.5 million, two-story, 78,000-square-foot regional health and wellness facility. The new site will integrate a new YMCA facility with state-of-the-art medical space for the Healthy Living program.

"Restore NY invigorates our urban centers and is a vital tool in the economic development tool kit for rebuilding communities that need it most,” Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said. “This funding will help local governments find solutions to blighted buildings so they can move forward towards a more vibrant future."

As for the county’s sponsorship as applicant, there is no county match, and no county cost aside from administrative expenses, Landers said.

The plan is to have the new building constructed at the former Cary Hall and Elks Lodge space so that YM members can use that during the demolition of the YMCA.

At the time of application, Rob Walker, CEO of GLOW YMCA, said there shouldn’t be any downtime for members, as they will transition over to the freshly completed site while the older YM building is taken down, he said.

“And continue operations without hurting the community and our services to the community — that was important to us, both from a mission standpoint and service standpoint,” Walker said.

The facility has previously been outlined — a pool, updated exercise equipment, and brand new amenities alongside Healthy Living’s teaching kitchen, classrooms and offices — and Walker described the outside space being “a nice streetscape park area” with benches, trees, lighting and an open grassy area for some outdoor activities, plus additional parking space.

File Photo of the beginnings of a new Healthy Living campus in downtown Batavia this August, by Howard Owens.

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