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June 9, 2021 - 2:19pm

Lovers Lane Road couple's senior housing development off Pearl Street Road is back on the table

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A proposal by a Lovers Lane Road couple to construct a multiunit senior housing complex off Route 33 (Pearl Street Road) about 1.2 miles west of the City of Batavia limits is back in the news again – four and a half years after it was introduced to the Batavia Town Planning Board.

David and Katie Ficarella, owners of 120-plus acres in the vicinity of their home, said they have the financing in place to build the $17 million, 80-unit Hickory Ridge Estates.

“It’s been a long time coming,” David Ficarella said. “We have some good people on our team and I think it’s going to go very well.”

Ficarella’s team includes Lazarus Industries of Buffalo, the general contractor, and Schenne & Associates of East Aurora, the engineering firm.

The development will feature 40 duplex houses, each of about 1,500 square feet – including a one-car garage – with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and high-end fixtures and appliances. The site also will include a pond and various trees.

“We want to keep as much of the natural landscape as possible,” they said.

The units will be rented at a market rate to be determined.

The complex, open to residents age 55 and older, will sit on about 21 acres on the north side of Route 33, across from Donahue Road, and stretching west along the state highway.

In November 2016, David Ficarella approached town planners with the idea – at that time a 110-unit senior residential site to be developed in conjunction with Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield. That plan fell through, however, and he is back with something he believes is solid and, once again, is anticipating the town’s support.

“We’re hoping to meet with the town very soon,” he said, noting that he will have to run the proposal by Genesee County and town planners. “We have talked about adding some roads and possibly having an extension of the Ellicott Trail run through the property. We definitely are looking for the town’s feedback.”

Batavia Town Engineer Steve Mountain said that Ficarella needs to provide more information prior to submitting an application. From there, his proposal would be considered by the planning boards.

“It would have to go through a State Environmental Quality Review and likely would need awarding of a special use permit or planned unit development,” Mountain said. “Since it is in an agricultural-residential district, it would be allowed with a special use permit.”

Ficarella said he is working with Lazarus Industries on a construction schedule, and would like to have the first building up by August to serve as a model home.

“I have heard from at least 10 people about renting there,” he said. “The goal is to have them rented before we put the buildings up.”

The rising cost of construction materials has forced him to change his strategy as far as what goes into the frame of the homes.

“We would have started earlier but there’s been a 300-percent increase in construction materials. We had to regroup and go to cold-formed steel, which wasn’t a bad thing. We redesigned the prints and it’s coming together,” he said.

So, instead of 2-by-4 lumber in the walls, contractors will be installing cold-formed steel.

“They make the steel right there in Buffalo. Even the rafters, trusses and all that will be steel. Other than that, it’s the same house,” David Ficarella said.

This would be the first phase of a three-phase plan, he said. The other two phases are putting a second (similar but smaller) development on 30 acres to the north of Hickory Ridge Estates and then developing another 30 acres for single-family homes onto the new Donahue Road to an extension off Edgewood Drive.

Edgewood Drive is part of the McWethy development between Route 33 and South Main Street Road. Currently, it dead-ends at the west end.

Asked if he thought that would create a traffic issue on Edgewood, he said that wouldn’t be the case.

“There just aren’t enough people in there (his senior complex),” he said. “It would be beneficial to Edgewood and residents of other streets in that development who could exit onto Route 33 to go to Corfu or Buffalo. And it would create another entrance for emergency vehicles into the development.”

He also said he has an option to purchase more land toward South Main Street and would like to see a road connecting with South Main Street.

The Ficarellas have contacted the Genesee County Economic Development Center to inquire about tax abatements. They said the project will create two full-time and three part-time positions and 200 temporary construction jobs, and would place no additional tax burden on the two school districts involved (Pembroke and City of Batavia).

As far as the Ellicott Trail is concerned, Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said an extension would be feasible, following the National Grid right-of-way that starts near Angelica Textile Services on Apollo Drive in the city and would follow along the north side of Hickory Ridge Estates.

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Top photo: Overhead view of the location of the proposed Hickory Ridge Estates (the area in brown above the words Pearl Street Road). Bottom photo: Cleared parcel that sits behind trees on the north side of Pearl Street Road, across from Donahue Road. 

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