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With key closing dates in place, Ellicott Station developer says remediation work will begin this fall

By Mike Pettinella

Although the date is a bit late in the construction season, Buffalo developer Sam Savarino nonetheless is relieved that the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal finally has scheduled the financial closing for the Ellicott Station project.

Ellicott Station, part of the City of Batavia's $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative program, is the name given for the redevelopment of the former Soccio & Della Penna and Santy’s Tire Sales properties on Ellicott Street.

“On Thursday, the HCR board met and approved the closing date for October 15th,” Savarino said this morning.

When asked if he was hoping for a summer date, he said yes, but quickly pivoted to a “here’s what comes next” mode.

“We’re making our plans to get going, so the day we close, we’re out there working,” he said. “I’m hoping that we get our remediation done in the fall, which is a big step for us. We’re planning to do that right now.”

The closing with HCR involves filing of the documents pertaining to the low-income housing tax credits and additional subsidies awarded to the project.

Savarino said the state agency is providing $1.2 million per year for 10 years in low-income housing tax credits – incentives that are tied to the developer securing an investor or investors to back the project.

As previously reported, the apartments are geared toward a mixed-use workforce with a $30,000 to $40,000 salary range for tenants.

HCR also has granted subsidies of around $5 million.

“We make what’s called a unified funding application with the state. The state assesses your request and they grant it,” he said. “You’re asking for the low-income housing tax credit (based on a formula) and you’re asking for additional subsidies that the state has to approve to aid those projects because the low-income housing tax credits are not enough. When you get the award, you get both of those.”

Savarino said he would like to get on the site prior to the closing date to start some of the abatement in anticipation of the demolition work, but that is subject to HCR approval.

He also confirmed a July 21st closing date with the Genesee County Economic Development Center to finalize the tax exemption and Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements.

The GCEDC Board of Directors approved nearly $3.7 million in benefits for the $22.4 million DRI project, which calls for renovation and construction of more than 72,000 square feet on 3.3 acres in the Brownfield Opportunity Area.

Plans include the development of 55 apartments as well as office, retail and entertainment space, leading to the creation of an estimated 30 full-time equivalent jobs.

Incentives from the industrial development agency include $850,000 in sales tax exemptions, $200,000 in mortgage tax exemptions, and $2,105,952 in property tax exemptions.

Additionally, the project will be receiving an estimated $529,492 in Batavia Pathway to Prosperity PILOT increment financing related to cleanup and site work investments on the targeted brownfield site.

GCEDC Marketing Director Jim Krencik said that the project will generate $6.10 for every $1 of public investment, including DRI funding.

Contacted this morning, Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said, "Understanding the delays with COVID and various other funding delays, I'm glad to see that it's finally going to move forward. I think everybody in the community is glad to see that it finally is going to move forward."

Batavia Development Corp. President Lori Aratari could not be reached for comment.

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