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Batavia Armory

Developer unveils RIT architecture students' ideas to repurpose former Batavia Armory

By Mike Pettinella


Local contractor Dave Vasciannie is banking on collaboration – including input from the community – as the most effective approach in his quest to convert the former Batavia Armory at 235 State St. into a mixed-use facility anchored by a senior housing complex.

Speaking at an open house on the City Centre concourse on Saturday afternoon, Vasciannie recounted the origins of the project and talked about the enlistment of students in an architectural class at Rochester Institute of Technology to develop potential ideas for the two existing armory buildings.

“What spurred me on was the gentlemen right there with the cane,” he said, pointing to David Carr of Rochester, a neighborhood advocate. “We got introduced on another project in Rochester and, apparently, they had done this before for other projects.”

Vasciannie said Carr met with Nana Andoh, the RIT professor, and since the armory proposal fit into the “adaptive reuse” course description, it was decided to make it a class project.

“They (RIT group) came to Batavia a couple times and they went to work, envisioning their own projects as to what they would do with it,” Vasciannie said. “You’ll notice that all the students but one are from other countries. So, we’re getting that type of perspective built in here.”

Professor Andoh said his eight students are from several countries, including China, Taiwan, India, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United States.

He said they were divided into four teams of two, and charged with creating drawings to show how they would convert the two 12,000-square-foot buildings and reshape the existing green space.

Their ideas, which were presented in an aptly presented series of renderings, included a wellness center, educational facility, farmers’ market/restaurant/community event center, greenhouse/sustainable garden, and youth recreation center (featuring a swimming pool that could be converted to a winter outdoor ice skating rink).

Vasciannie said the students did market studies and surveys “to see what Batavia would support.”

“And that’s important because, as you know, the armory has been sitting there for four years since I bought it,” he said. “We really couldn’t develop it; we we’re concerned about zoning. So instead of working this thing in reverse, let’s find out what the city will support, then we can think about building it.”

Vasciannie, through DeVas Enterprises, LLC, purchased the parcel in August 2016 from the New York State Police for $235,000.

The Batavia resident said the condition of the two buildings, which were built in 1963, is what “enticed” him.

“Those two buildings, you could not build for a fraction today of what it was built for. The structures are sound and what I didn’t want to see was a developer come in and want to tear those down and rebuild. There’s too much stuff there – it’s solid as a rock,” he said.

Carr, who has worked with RIT for four decades on projects in Rochester, said the armory plan serves a dual purpose – “giving students a place to work – this is like their lab – and also giving the investor some ideas of what they can do with their projects.”

He added that community involvement is the key.

“The community has to be involved to make the project successful,” Carr said. “Looking at the next four or five years, we’re talking about another legacy that we’re building here. With the input of the students, the City and Town of Batavia, we can make this work.”

As far as his plan to put up a senior housing complex is concerned, Vasciannie said it comes down to the best road to finding financial support.

“Any type of project is going to take funding, and where funding is basically coming from in New York State is through the housing,” he said. “So, we’re working with another entity called Rochester Property Management, which is looking to bring senior housing into the equation. They are working on their own separate piece and it would surround the existing buildings – and you’ll see from some of these renderings how we’re able to match the two.”

Vasciannie said the next step is to gather the surveys that were available for those who attended the open house and to reach out to a full-time architect. He hopes to start the adaptive reuse project in the fall of this year.

State Street residents Greg and Holly Reinhardt were among those who attended the open house.

The couple noted the students' many “good ideas" and said they are interested in learning more but are concerned about the “possible change” to the neighborhood.

Photo at top: Dave Vasciannie, right, with David Carr, left, and RIT professor Nana Andoh at Saturday's open house concerning the possible future of the former Batavia Armory on State Street.


Renderings by students Aneesh Rughwani and J.C. Lee (farmers' market and community event center).


Rendering by students Riven Kim and Wael Mkao (restaurant, greenhouse, farmers' market, cooking class facility).


 Renderings by students Heba Bin Seddeg and Sara Hall (showing senior housing along with sustainable garden).


Renderings by students Yudong Yan and Jonathan Su (showing restaurant with take-out area, kitchen, art classroom).

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Public input sought on development of former armory on State Street

By Howard B. Owens


It's been nearly four years since Dave Vascianne purchased the former armory property on State Street in the City of Batavia and according to his consultant, David Carr said it's been a slow but deliberate process to decide what to build on the land.

The decision, on the back of the property, a senior housing complex.

On the front, using the existing buildings?  Vascianne and Carr want to hear from the community.

To that end, they've been working with a group of RIT students to develop a range of possible uses for the buildings and those ideas will be presented to the community from noon to 2 p.m. at City Centre on Saturday, Feb. 29.

"We want to get as much input from the community as possible," Carr said. "Whatever it is, we want to fit with the senior housing and make sure everything fits together. Everything has to be social together because otherwise, it won't work, which is why we want to get input from everybody."

DaVas Enterprises, LLC purchased the parcel Aug. 1, 2016, from the New York State Police for $235,000.

At the time, Vascianne said, he wasn't sure what he would do with the property but he's a developer. It was too good a value to pass up. It's a nice piece of land and the existing buildings are architecturally interesting and in good shape.

He settled on senior housing to anchor the development because of the residential zoning of the area but he hasn't decided yet what to do with the front part of the property.

Carr said the project is being privately financed though there are tax credits available for the senior housing and they may seek out other assistance.

Photo: File photo from 2015

Photos: Former state armory on State Street headed to auction again

By Howard B. Owens


If your idea of a good bargain is a Mid-century Modern fixer-upper, has the State of New York got a deal for you.

The state is making a second attempt -- the first deal fell through -- to auction off its former armory at 235 State St., Batavia.

The minimum bid is $60,000.

Perhaps you need office space, space for your contracting business, or you think it could be apartments or offices or maybe even your home -- all contingent on zoning approvals, of course.

The auction is at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30, in Buffalo.

There was an open house today and two more coming up -- from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, and from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5.









Batavia Armory: A gem in the rough?

By Robert Brown

My route to the GCLP Liberty Garden (located at the Batavia Youth Center's public garden) required me to pass by the New York State Armory on State Street in Batavia many times this summer. I usually posted to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers on the limited signs of life (deer, woodchucks, rabbits, the occasional grounds mower...) sighted which tended to ignite conversations about the building vacancy and potential uses for the extensive and somewhat unique hilled property.

Maybe it could be used as an office building. How about a restaurant and drive-in theater? Maybe a driving range in the summer and a tubing hill in the winter. Maybe a new neighborhood could be built tucked in behind everything with ample wooded surroundings and maybe a pond. Is the property big enough for a 9 hole par 3 golf course? How about something, anything, other than sitting idle and being maintained at taxpayer expense, or worse, deteriorating until we have another taxpayer expense for removal?

Last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see a friend's post that indicated the Batavia Armory is going up for auction on Nov. 13th for the low, low starting bid of $80,000! Those of us online at the midnight hour had a quick conversation about how it would be great to get the property back on the tax rolls and utilized!

We then discussed a few other options that may be even more appropriate and just as equally beneficial to taxpayers. Could this be the site of the new Batavia police station if we have to abandon the current location? Could this facility be used to solve the County's female inmate problem? Could it be used to augment the County jail so we're not forced to hire 10 more guards or be pressured into building a brand new jail? Could this facility get the County out of leasing space on Route 5 and other sites that are costing taxpayers somewhere between $600K to $1M annually? An $80K investment to solve any one of those problems seems like a bargain!

Then again, since the State already owns the site and since it was funded by taxpayer dollars, why can't the City or County obtain the property from the State via one of those magical $1 transfers we often read about? Hmmm...

Whether the property gets sold to a private interest who develops it or it is used to solve one of the budget concerns for the City and/or County, this property presents opportunity for City and County taxpayers. Let's hope we don't miss out and end up continuing to babysit a property that has already consumed a significant amount of our tax dollars.

WGRZ's coverage of the Batavia Armory sale can be seen at:

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