Sometime soon after the first of the year, Vito Gautieri expects to get word from at least one bank on funding for his planned apartment complex atop of Save-A-Lot at 45-47 Ellicott St. in the City of Batavia.
Gautieri is planning a four-story structure with 30 quality apartments with rents ranging from $800 to $1,100 per month.
He expects to begin construction on the "Casa Mia" complex in February. Completion will depend on arrangements with another contractor, but could come as early as the Winter of 2015.
"It’s a nice project and we’re working like mad on it to see if we can get it going as soon as the financing is done," Gautieri said.
If it comes through, Casa Mia will be a nice boost for the Downtown economy, said Julie Pacatte, coordinator of the Batavia Development Corp.
"Our marketing reports have told us there is a need for quality, urban housing in Downtown Batavia," Pacatte said. "There is a boom in Rochester and they're taking full advantage of the demand from millennials and empty-nesters for more quality apartments. We're excited about it. It brings more disposable income Downtown, more shoppers, more diners, which is what we're looking for."
Gautieri has not applied for any financial assistance from the BDC nor the GCEDC, he said, though he may seek a tax break through the city's 485(A) program.
The BDC has worked to spur development of several apartments on Jackson Street and Jackson Square, all in the $800 to $1,000 per month price range, and every unit was rented as soon as it hit the market.
That, and the marketing studies, gives Gautieri a high degree of confidence that his 30 units will fill up quickly.
"There's a lot of advantages to living downtown for young people and the elderly," Gautieri said. "It will be a good compliment to the Save-A-Lot and within walking distance you've got seven or eight restaurants. That should really make it attractive for people."
He anticipates from 70 to 80 people, including children, will live in the apartments.
Sav-A-Lot occupies only half of Gautieri's property there. He's been unable to find businesses willing to rent the other half of the building, so he's planning to convert that space into covered parking -- 32 spaces -- for the residents of the apartments.
The building was originally constructed by Gautieri for Montgomery Ward and the second floor was intended to be a warehouse, so it was engineered to hold a lot of weight.
That construction is what enables Gautieri to now add two more floors of apartments.
The second floor will be flats. As soon as funding is approved, crews will get busy opening windows and erecting interior walls.
Gautieri is negotiating with companies in Buffalo and Clifton Springs for pre-fab apartments for the planned third and fourth floors.
If an appropriate deal can be brokered, he anticipates finishing the project by the end of next year.
If his own crews have to build the structure, then it will take well into 2016 to finish.
The apartments on the fourth floor -- Gautieri doesn't call them penthouses, "there are no penthouses in Batavia," he said with a chuckle -- will rent at the higher rates, but the first tenants will be able to customize their spaces.
The project is exciting, even if the BDC isn't directly involved, Pacatte said, because more people living Downtown will drive economic growth, help fill retail spaces and bring in more people.
Studies show that each downtown housing unit drives $19,000 in demand for retail goods and services.
"Investment into Downtown that responds to the market findings will be another win for our efforts toward community renewal," Pacatte said. "The Jackson Street owner investments in recent years have already proven successful -- reaching 100-percent occupancy within weeks of becoming available."
The Ellicott Street project isn't Gautieri's only apartment plan Downtown. He's also planning a project for his property at 45 Liberty St.
The project will consist of small, single-occupant apartments aimed at young people just starting out in life or elder people on fixed incomes with minimal residential needs.
"There's companies doing some of these in Rochester and they're rented before they even start construction," Gautieri said.
He's also planning to convert one of his office buildings on Liberty, where he already operates storage units, into storage units.