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Batavia Development Corp.

April 2, 2021 - 3:09pm

savarino_1.jpgEllicott Station.

The concept was born five years ago when Julie Pacatte, coordinator of the Batavia Development Corp. at the time, introduced Samuel Savarino, chief executive officer of Savarino Cos. of Buffalo, to an excited group of municipal leaders who gathered at the site of the former Santy’s Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna construction company on Ellicott Street.

Savarino proceeded to announce that his firm was selected to repurpose the 3-acre parcel in the City of Batavia’s Brownfield Opportunity Area into a development featuring office, retail, residential and entertainment space.

Fast forward to today and one would assume that not much has happened since that March 2016 press conference. To passersby, the location looks the same -- run-down buildings with broken and boarded up windows; an eyesore, to say the least.

Behind the scenes, though, much has taken place. And Savarino, in a telephone interview today with The Batavian, said that the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” is in clear view.

Closing Could Happen in May

“I expect there will be a date in May when there will be a closing,” Savarino said.

What that statement means is Savarino believes that New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which is allocating around $5 million in low-income housing tax credits to the project, may be at a point where lawyers can sit down, pull together all of the financial pieces and set the stage for demolition and construction.

“The closing with HCR (is the next step). The day after that we will be out there working; maybe a little bit before that, actually,” he said.

Savarino said the parameters of the venture have not changed.

The $22.5 million project calls for construction of a five-story apartment building with 55 new, modern workforce housing units, as well as a brewery, restaurant/beer garden and potential further development on 3.31 acres. It is expected to create 20 jobs in the city’s downtown area.

Resurgence Not Part of the Brew

He did report, however, that Resurgence, a Buffalo-based brewery, is no longer part of the plan.

“They sort of timed out,” he said. “We’ve got another plan in there for a brewery, and we’ll probably have a hand in operating it.”

Savarino acknowledged that he has heard the grumblings from city officials and others about the time that has elapsed since the initial announcement, but he said he let people know from the beginning that “we had our work cut out for us.”

“I said that it would take quite a while because we had, by our initial calculations, between a $5 million and $8 million gap in funding to make the thing work. There was a lot of work that had to be done to close that,” he said.

“We had one path we were going on with new market tax credits and after a year and a half or two years of heading down a path toward closing, and we were informed by the state that that wouldn’t work.”

Housing Tax Credit a Big Factor

He said his company was able to pursue a different strategy involving the acquisition of low-income housing tax credits.

“We identified the funds and brought them in, and closed the gap and have done what we said -- that we would work hard to do (this) from the beginning. I know that it has taken a lot of time to do it, but we’re on the cusp of beginning construction over there and overcoming the challenges that we had.”

In September of last year, HCR announced an award of $5.7 million in low-income housing tax credits for the project, but since then, that amount has been reduced, Savarino said.

“Part of the delay beside COVID and HCR is that the market had changed. One of the things we needed to have is an investor for the low-income housing tax credits that we have. But because of COVID and other things, the market kind of fell out for things like that,” he advised.

He said the market has recovered to a certain extent – and he has lined up the necessary backing from financial institutions. But that $5.7 million figure is now closer to $5 million.

“We did not get as much in the sale of the credits as we had anticipated, so it’s costing us some money out of our pocket,” he said. “But we made the calculation that even though it is costing us many hundreds of thousands of dollars more, to delay this any further would cost us more still, and that we would be disappointing a lot of people by losing the season and we don’t want to wait any longer.”

Several Funding Sources

The Ellicott Station project will be getting $425,000 from Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and has been approved for $3.6 million in tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center. Back in December 2016, it was awarded a $1.9 million Consolidated Application Grant through the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council.

Savarino said that the entire deal closes at the same time.

“There’s funding coming in, there’s private financing that comes into it. So, there’s a lot of moving parts, but it all comes together at a project close. After that, you can start (construction),” he said.

He said that his company has done everything it could to prepare for the financial closing, including required remedial work connected to the Brownfield applications.

“There are literally hundreds of matters that have to be attended to … prior to the closing. The good thing is that we have been at this so long that a lot of those things have been taken care of,” he noted.

But as far as shovels in the ground, nothing yet.

“When we have been notified of any issues, we have done our best to attend to them over there,” he said. “And I think we boarded up some windows and secured the fence a couple of times. I will tell you that I know some people are impatient for some activity on that site.”

Savarino said he hopes to learn the actual closing date with HCR, but realizes that the agency is dealing with many other projects across the state.

“Although we have to seek the permission of HCR to do this, I have said to people in the city that once we know we have a closing date, we can do things like let contracts out for the work and actually have equipment on the site on the day of the closing,” he said.

HCR to Decide When Things Advance

He said his company may be allowed to demolish the old garage and the Santy’s building ahead of or right after closing, but emphasized that HCR is calling the shots.

“We don’t what to get ahead of the state in this – HCR – by announcing when we’re going to start and things like that,” he offered. “Every time we do, we hear from them. We have dealt with them on several other projects. We have done our part to reach the closing, and it’s just a matter of scheduling it.”

Locally, the Batavia Development Corp. continues to be a player in the project, and Andrew Maguire has been the director of economic development for the city-supported agency since November 2019.

“The BDC continues to work with the developer of Ellicott Station -- Savarino Companies,” Maguire said. “The proposed project aligns with Batavia DRI investment strategy and the Batavia Opportunity Area plan to advance redevelopment of strategic sites in the city. Ellicott Station is one of the key sites identified.”

File photo: Sam Savarino addresses City Council, November 2016.

April 1, 2021 - 2:53pm

In modern and jazz dance terms, the Batavia Players’ Main Street 56 Dance Company is just a “fan kick” away from the start of a new era at its new home at 35 City Centre.

Project Manager David Ciurzynski, of Ciurzynski Consulting LLC, of Attica, today said that the $417,000 award from the New York Main Street Anchor Grant Program to the Main Street 56 Theater and Dance Company project likely will allow the dance studio portion to open for business sometime in June.

“(The funding) is going to allow us to design and build a new façade on the front of the building so you won’t have that old ‘mall’ look, and it will also help us with the lobby space in the areas that we had cut back on our design to fit into our budget,” Ciurzynski said. “So, it really balances out the project and allows us to complete it properly.”

Ciurzynski said interior drawings are almost done and building permits for the dance studio have been received.

“People at the mall may have seen some activity there as we have put up the drywall and installed some doors for the dance studio,” he said. “With that being said, we’re hoping to have it open in June.”

As far as the theater is concerned, he said design development drawings are expected by the end of the week “so we can start looking at finalizing the budget for that, getting permit review and get that bid out.”

Ciurzynski said he anticipates the theater being complete by the end of the year.

The Batavia Players has hired Thompson Builds of Churchville as the general contractor.

The project is being funded by a state Downtown Revitalization Award of $701,750, the recent NY Main Street Anchor Grant and a fundraising campaign.

“Part of the budget is being covered by volunteer labor as well,” he said. “It’s getting easier because we have funding; work is getting done. This is a real thing now for people.”

Ciurzynski said his involvement in the project has opened his eyes to the Batavia Players’ contributions to the community.

“It has been just an honor to work for these people. I never realized how many children and how many families that they reach through their educational and dance programs,” he said. “These are programs that people will be able to use during the reduced school times for their art classes for school. It’s really a big benefit to have this right in the middle of our city.”

In related action, the Batavia Development Corp. Board of Directors this morning formally approved acceptance of the $417,000 grant, which is awarded through the Housing Trust Fund Corporation and the Office of Community Renewal, to rehabilitate 14,000 square feet of vacant space for the theater.

Healthy Living Campus Update

Ciurzynski is representing Rochester Regional Health and the GLOW YMCA on the development of the Healthy Living Campus in Downtown Batavia – a $22.5 million project funded by a $4 million DRI award, $7.5 million grant from the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program II and a local fundraising campaign.

He said the project is at the design development stage, which means that the submittal of site plans to county and city planning boards isn’t too far away.

“We need to make sure we have all the funding sources in place … and also the material pricing and availability,” he offered, adding that he hopes that work will be bid out and some construction will start this fall. “We will try to balance that all out with the market, which is extremely difficult right now to do on a large project like that. Steel and copper pricing is unstable right now, and we just have to make sure that we can minimize its effect on our project.”

Ciurzynski said the plan is to take down Cary Hall on East Main Street, construct a new building and move the current YMCA operation into it.

“After that, we’ll take down the old Y,” he said. “It’s a good 12 to 15 months’ worth of construction for the new Y. If we start late this year, it will be late 2022 or early 2023 before that building comes down.”

He also said he would like to see the Office for the Aging (which is attached to the current YMCA) be a part of the Healthy Living Campus.

“We’re in talks with the Office for the Aging but right now the plan is to keep it where it is. That’s a work in progress. We would have to develop a plan to separate the building, and put in new utilities to make sure it is operational,” he said.

“The hope would be that we could find a way to incorporate them into the overall campus and save people money and be able to provide the same services and make the buildings work all at the same time.”

Calling it a “dynamic process” due to the fact that the venture includes two nonprofit organizations and the City of Batavia, Ciurzynski said it will take “time, patience and understanding to bring all the parts and pieces together.”

“But when we’re done, it is going to be a very transformational program in the center of our city that will provide much for health care and wellness for youth and seniors,” he said.

Previous: Healthy Living Campus consultant: Access to services at forefront of large-scale Batavia projects

March 25, 2021 - 12:14pm

Press release:

The Batavia Development Corp. is pleased to announce a New York Street Anchor Grant for $417,000 for the Batavia Players Inc. Main Street Theater 56 project.

The Batavia Development Corporation and Batavia Players Inc. were successful in being awarded a New York Main Street Anchor Grant through the Housing Trust Fund Corporation and the Office of Community Renewal to assist the Main Street 56 Theater project.

Batavia Players, a not-for-profit organization for more than 80 years is the longest continuing regional theater company in New York State. The mission of the Batavia Players Inc. is to bring affordable theater to the community by making theater accessible to everyone with a variety o fquality productions that enhance artistic growth of participants and encourage audiences to think, feel and develop an appreciation for theater.

“The new Main Street 56 Theater project and our Board of Directors are humbled and very appreciative of this grant," said Patrick Burk, president and executive director of the Batavia Players. "We have all been heartened by the continued support for this project, which will genuinely affect our downtown community and the City Centre property in such a positive manner.

"This will allow us to build a beautiful, state of the art facility in our city as well as continue to bring many visitors and theater patrons to see our performances and support other downtown businesses. We could not be more excited with this new development. Our project has been blessed by the support of a lot of people who genuinely care and have been with us from the start. I would like to thank City Manager Rachael Tabelski, the City of Batavia, the Batavia Development Corporation and all of our partners for their ongoing dedication to our project." 

The Main Street 56 Theater and the Main Street 56 Dance Company will occupy a vacant and underutilized space in the City Centre. The City of Batavia and the Batavia Players will rehabilitate approximately 14,000 square feet of tiered space into the state-of-the-art performing arts center, educational facilities, dance, and set development with a Main Street entrance at 35 Batavia City Centre.

This project will leverage grant funding from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Grant program and the New York Main Street Anchor Grant program.  

“The BDC has proven successful in obtaining grant funds to continue to revitalize the City’s commercial hub," said Eugene Jankowski Jr. City of Batavia Council president. "Delivering the Main Street Anchor Grant for the Main Street 56 Theater project is another example of City and BDC working together to deliver on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) goals of arts and culture for the City."

In alignment with the Batavia Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Investment Strategy the Batavia Players will foster and promote more arts, culture, entertainment, healthy living, wellness and prosperity. Filling vacant and underutilized structures has been a common goal across many of Batavia’s planning efforts as identified by the Brownfield Opportunity Area and The City’s Comprehensive Plan. 

“There are many catalytic and complimentary projects happening in our Downtown and this is one of the many," said Andrew Maguire, director of Economic Development for the Batavia Development Corporation. "Projects like Main Street 56 Theater will create more vibrancy, help increase commerce overall, and will deliver a better quality of life.

"We are thankful to New York State, the Office of Community Renewal and Homes and Community Renewal, along with all the other New York State agencies that continue to invest in the revitalization of Batavia.” 

The Batavia Development Corporation excited to be awarded this New York Main Street Grant," said Lori Aratari, president of the Board of Directors for the Batavia Development Corporation. "The New York Main Street Grant program is very competitive and the Batavia Development Corporation continues to be successful in identifying and executing grant opportunities that help projects, like the Batavia Player’s, for the betterment of our community."

The Batavia Players Inc. and Main Street 56 Theater consists of a dedicated group of professionals and community members whom have brought theater and the performing arts to our community. They are unique in New York State with their ambitious schedule of performances while maintaining a high level of quality and diverse productions.

For more information regarding the Batavia Players Inc., Main Street 56 Theater, and Main Street 56 Dance Studio, please visit www.bataviaplayers.org.

June 20, 2018 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, Batavia Development Corp., batavia, business, news, notify.

The Batavia Development Corp. Board of Directors agreed this morning to hire Rachael Tabelski as the new economic development director, replacing Julie Pacatte, who left a couple of months ago to pursue a new job opportunity.

Tabelski is a Batavia resident and has been marketing and communications director for the Genesee Economic Development Center for more than seven years.

Board President Pierluigi Cipollone, who served on the search committee, praised Tabelski as clearly the most qualified among a field of five candidates, that included two from Buffalo, one from Texas, and a native New Yorker from the Finger Lakes region who currently works in Massachusetts.

"She came to the interview very well prepared," Cipollone said. 

He said she had a spreadsheet of all BDC's projects, worked side-by-side with Pacatte on preparing the city's successful bid for the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative project, and clearly understands economic development.

The job offer to Tabelski, with a salary of $67,000 annually, which is $2,000 more than the BDC paid Pacatte, was approved unanimously.

"It's a no-brainer," said Board Member Steve Pies. "She is well versed in our projects and she is passionate about it.

The fact that Tabelski has been working with Pacatte on city projects as part of her job with GCEDC makes her a perfect fit for the job.

"There will be no hiccup," Valle said. "She is knowledgeable about everything. She has a great vision and goals, and she's fantastic."

Tabelski is married to City Council Member Adam Tabelski. Cipollone said the only conflict of interest will be for Adam Tabelski will be on votes related to his wife's compensation. He will need to recuse himself on those issues when they came before the council.

In the discussion, board members questioned whether the compensation was appropriate. Cipollone said that based on his research the salary range in similar-sized cities in the region is $70,000 to $90,000, so the BDC is on the low-end of the scale, he said.  

That prompted Steve Casey to ask if, notwithstanding her ties to the community, a low salary might encourage her to move on to another job sooner rather than later. Cipollone noted the BDC has limited funds to work with and anything paid in salary would mean less available for projects.

Rachael Tabelski will start her new job July 6.

May 30, 2018 - 10:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, Batavia Development Corp., downtown, business, news.

The Batavia City Council is willing to put something on paper expressing support of the Batavia Development Corporation but it can't make a commitment to funding the economic development agency for five years.

The BDC, through its president, former City Councilman Pier Cipollone, was seeking a five-year funding commitment from the council. Cipollone said without long-term support by the council, recruiting a new executive director will prove to be difficult.

“We need to provide some form of stability in the organization to hire a qualified candidate,” Cipollone said.

The executive director’s position has been vacant since the resignation a month ago of Julie Pacatte.

In making his case for the five-year commitment Cipollone cited the agency’s track record of attracting state and federal grants to spur development and the management of its own revolving loan fund to help local entrepreneurs. 

“For every $1 invested in the BDC,” Cipollone said, “the city has over $30 returned in public and private investment.”

Council President Eugene Jankowski explained that individual councilpersons were prohibited from making financial commitments beyond their individual terms of office. He then suggested that council adopt a non-binding “letter of support” for the BDC and place the item on the agenda for the next council business meeting June 11.

Among the accomplishments for the BDC during Pacatte’s tenure was the creation of several new residential units downtown, which have remained at full occupancy since going on the market, the conversion of the former Carr’s Warehouse into a mixed-use office space and apartment complex, and the opening of FreshLAB/Eli Fish Brewing Company.

The largest project still pending, however, is the Ellicott Station development, in which Savarino Companies plan to convert the former Della Penna and Santy’s properties into apartments, offices, and a brewery restaurant for Resurgence Brewing out of Buffalo. The groundbreaking for that project has repeatedly been delayed.

Cipollone addressed some of the frustrations and concerns over project delays and said it’s a very complex project. Because of the environmental problems at the site, there are multiple funding mechanisms from the state to help alleviate those above-market costs. Savarino is also using a complex private-equity-funding vehicle, which adds to the complexity of closing the funding.

The best the city can do, Cipollone suggested, is wait for Savarino to close funding. There isn’t, at least right now, a better option.

“It’s the only hope I’m aware of,” Cipollone said. “We had put it out to bid, and Savarino was the one viable company. They’ve done similar work in Buffalo where they’ve taken on a dirty site and have done an excellent job with them, so they’re used to dealing with this type of grief.”

In other council business, a draft resolution to fund the restoration of the Redfield Parkway entrance pillars failed to be moved to the next business meeting. Council instead asked interim City Manager Matt Worth to research other options to fund the project that has been estimated to cost between $57,000 and $67,000.

The Batavian's news partner WBTA assisted with this story.

April 13, 2018 - 11:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, Batavia Development Corp., batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

The Batavia Development Corporation accepted the resignation of Julie Pacatte, economic development director in charge of economic development for the City of Batavia. Pacatte has accepted a position for a private-sector employer located in New York’s Capital District Region. 

“To say that she will be missed is an understatement, Ms. Pacatte was instrumental in a number of initiatives to improve the economic environment in Batavia,” said Pierluigi Cipollone, president of the Batavia Development Corporation. “She has advanced economic development in the city to new levels and facilitated more than $30 million in pledged investment into the city."

Pacatte was successful in leading the way to develop the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2), a first in the state PILOT Increment Financing (PIF) district that diverts new PILOT payments from three tax jurisdictions (City, School, and County) to develop the most blighted and impoverished areas of the city.

The program was developed following the city’s success in creating the Brownfield Opportunity Area and identifying sites primed for investment. These efforts lead to the attraction of $20 million investment pledge by Savarino Companies at the Ellicott Station brownfield site. 

Pacatte led efforts to craft the successful $10 million Downtown Redevelopment Initiative (DRI) application, was the driving force behind the BDC’s Public-Private Partnership, the freshLab restaurant incubator, as well as an administrator for loans and grants to aid new and existing businesses in the city.

She has helped bring the BDC to solid ground and advance our mission of new economic opportunities in the city of Batavia. The BDC still has much to do and will continue to work in the city helping small businesses, ensuring that the Savarino project can break ground this summer, working to advance development at Creek Park, assisting DRI project winners and working with all economic development partners in county and across the region. 

“Thank you, Ms. Pacatte for your passionate efforts to make Batavia a better place to work, live and play and I wish you continued success in your future pursuits,” Cipollone said.

December 13, 2016 - 8:48am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Ellicott Station, Batavia Development Corp., freshLAB.
  • The startup and/or expansion of seven Batavia-based businesses that capitalized on microenterprise grants;
  • The imminent transformation of the former J.J. Newberry building on Main Street into a brewing company and “freshLAB” restaurant;
  • And, of course, the $17 million renovation and redevelopment of the former Santy’s Tire Shop and Soccio & Della Penna Construction site on Ellicott Street into a retail/commercial/residential complex.

These projects, along with a handful of other grant-aided ventures, signal a continuing, successful effort by the Batavia Development Corp. to revitalize the city’s downtown and broaden the tax base throughout the municipality, said the president of the organization’s board of directors.

Speaking Monday night at the City Council meeting, Ray Chaya, a BDC board member for nine years who is “terming out” next month, said Batavia’s positive, can-do message has resonated with regional and state economic development agencies. As a result, grants have been awarded to initiatives to the tune of more than $2 million.

“We’ve come to be a community of believers,” Chaya said, noting that the passing of resolutions by government boards, phone calls from local leaders to regional executives and media coverage were key factors in last week’s awarding of the $1.9 million Consolidated Funding Application grant by the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council for the Ellicott Station project.

He added that the BDC also expects to receive a $500,000 Restore NY grant for environmental remediation of the Santy’s/Della Penna site, and the developer, Savarino Cos. of Buffalo, is in line to receive federal new market tax credits “to help close the gap” and make the project worthwhile.

City Manager Jason Molino said the BDC is looking into “multiple funding sources to offset the cost,” including Brownfield cleanup tax credits and the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity fund – a partnership of the City of Batavia, Genesee County, Batavia City School District and Genesee County Economic Development Center.

“The Pathways to Prosperity addresses the anti-poverty issue and is a feather in the cap,” Molino said. “The way we were able to transfer the property as an LLC to the BDC and then to the developer is the first of its kind on several different levels … and that’s what has drawn attention to it.”

Chaya named seven businesses that participated in the BDC’s microenterprise grant program, which empowered the agency to piecemeal the distribution of $200,000 to qualifying entrepreneurs who participated in the program.

Those businesses are Hidden Door, Batavia Brewing Co., Gams Sweet & Savory, Teddy Bear Day Care, T-Shirts Etc., Amy’s Fluffy Friends and Trash Away. All of the businesses’ expenditures are closely monitored by the BDC and the state’s Office of Community Renewal, with milestones and metrics having to be met per grant regulations.

The Batavia Brewery Co./freshLAB project also has been boosted by several performance-based grants, Chaya said, namely a $500,000 Main Street anchor grant, $60,785 from the United States Department of Agriculture and a $100,000 National Grid Revitalization grant.

Additional tax credits could come if the building – which also will house market-rate apartments on the upper floors -- is put onto the National Register of Historic Place as sought by owners Matthew Gray and Matt Boyd.  

Chaya said that bidding on construction is taking place through Jan. 6 and work is expected to begin in late winter. The overall cost of this project is estimated at $1.5 million.

The city also received two other FLREDC grants -- $25,000 for the Downtown Batavia Healthy Living Campus’ feasibility study and $12,500 to the Batavia Business Improvement District for a Downtown Batavia Public Market Study.

Chaya also reported that an Empire State Development grant in the amount of $15,000 is being used to develop a plan for the Harvester Park subdivision.

November 14, 2016 - 8:48pm

savarino_1.jpg

Speaking from decades of experience in property redevelopment, Samuel Savarino, chief executive officer of Savarino Cos. of Buffalo, acknowledged the challenges involved in converting the former Santy's Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna Construction sites on Ellicott Street in the city into a successful commercial venture.

But he also said he is encouraged by the "great public support" locally and is hopeful that New York State comes through with the necessary grant funding to make Ellicott Station a reality.

Savarino, whose company was selected by the Batavia Development Corp. in the spring to revitalize the rundown, three-acre parcel in the city's Brownfield Opportunity Area, joined Julie Pacatte, BDC coordinator, and BDC Board members Ray Chaya and Mary Valle at Monday night's City Council meeting to update the governing body on the project's progress.

"We've been refining our plan, and after finding that one of the buildings on the site is unsafe, it will be demolished and is no longer part of our plans," said Savarino, who has spearheaded award-winning projects along Buffalo's waterfront.

However, he said, the main building on the Della Penna lot (phase 1 of the project) features "some unusual characteristics that will work well ... and will become the signature part of the development. Driving down Ellicott Street, you can't help but notice it."

Specifically, he said the Della Penna building that once was a transformer repair facility has room upstairs for a party area that looks out over the production floor.  He said he is "pleasantly surprised" that the building's shape, along with concrete beams and columns, will lend itself to a unique look and feel when completed.

Savarino said his company has been working with engineers and consultants in preparation of possible construction next spring. Plans are contingent on the awarding of an Empire State Development grant -- what Savarino called a "substantial contribution to close the gap" -- for the project, which is expected to cost around $17 million. He and Pacatte said they hope to hear from the ESD in December.

The developer also said that he has applied for new market tax credits to lessen the state's commitment to the project, noting that the fact that the site is in a highly distressed census tract and that Batavia is a rural community work in the project's favor.

He said the project likely will proceed in two phases.

"Della Penna is the first phase; Santy's is the second site," he said, adding that the building there also will come down. "That's the site that the city acquired through foreclosure after we were selected in the RFP process."

Savarino said the plan hasn't changed much from his original vision.

"We're still roughly consistent of what we originally proposed. We're using the existing building as a production brewery and restaurant. We've had some in-depth conversations with two established brewers, both of whom have a strong interest in the site -- I don't think that's an issue.

"We've talked to several commercial tenants for the space -- the two floors of commercial space that we have in both of the buildings. But the first phase would have 16 apartments and the second phase would have 16 apartments, for a total of 32. Commercial space on the first floor could be retail or it could just be commercial office. We've had an awful lot of interest from commercial office users and one bank in particular."

Samuel Savarino talks about the Ellicott Station project at Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

October 11, 2016 - 9:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Batavia Development Corp..

City Council tonight (Oct. 11) unanimously passed a resolution supporting the redevelopment of Ellicott Station, a move that officials of the Batavia Development Corp. hope spurs Empire State Development to act favorably and quickly on the BDC's request for $2.4 million in grant funding for the project.

"We intend to send this resolution to the agencies (ESD and Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council) to show more support and solidarity," BDC Coordinator Julie Pacatte said.

Pacatte was referring to the collaboration among the City of Batavia, Genesee County, Batavia City School District and Genesee County Economic Development Center, which joined together to commit a percentage of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) to a unique program known as Batavia Pathway to Prosperity.

BPP and anticipated capital grants from the ESD -- $1.9 million through the Consolidated Funding Application and another $500,000 from Restore NY -- have paved the way for Savarino Companies of Buffalo to commit to investing millions of dollars into turning the former Santy's Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna construction firm site on Ellicott Street into a vibrant entertainment/office/apartment complex.

The resolution is meant to "reiterate the importance of this $17 million investment in a highly distressed area of the city experiencing 32 percent poverty and nearly 7 percent unemployment," Pacatte said. "We urge New York State to enable us to implement the plan in which they sponsored."

The Ellicott Station project is listed as a Five-Year Pipeline Initiative by the FLREDC within its 2016 progress report and recommended priority projects, which focus on mixed-use development, poverty levels and leveraging private investment.

Pier Cipollone, a BDC board member and former City Councilman, said that "closing the gap" in funding by obtaining these grants must happen before Savarino Companies can put its plan into action.

"If we can get moving on this, then we can turn some of these other sites around," he said, noting that the BDC has identified four other areas in the city (City Centre Mall, United Memorial Medical Center/YMCA corridor, Creek Park behind Falleti Ice Arena and the Harvester Center) for redevelopment.

The four-page resolution traces the city's now seven-year effort to revitalize Batavia's Brownfield Opportunity Area. It emphasizes that both of these grants are "necessary to advance the Phase I component (envirnmental assessment, cleanup, engineering costs, etc.) of the Ellicott Station project and will be matched by substantial private equity investment and significant local resources through the BPP program."

City Manager Jason Molino said that Savarino Companies will be responsible for about 70 percent of the project's total cost.

Pacatte, in a memo to Molino, wrote that Ellicott Station will create arouind 145 temporary construction jobs in which Savarino has committed to hiring some local unemployed workers. When finished, she noted, the project should result in 160 permanent jobs earning $6 million annually, while generating $500,000 in downtown consumer retail demand and $335,000 in sales tax annually.

She added that total assessed value will increase thirtyfold, and that values of properties within a half mile will improve by 10 to 15 percent.

Pacatte said that Savarino Companies has lined up some tenants and prospects, and she expects an announcement to be made in the near future.  

In other developments, Council:

-- Received word from Molino that the city was one of 76 municipalities to receive an "Operation Keep Our Home" grant available through a settlement by the state's Attorney General. Municipalities with at least 5,000 people and a minimum of 100 vacant homes were eligible for the program.

Molino said the $66,500 award will be used to combat "zombie" and vacant properties along several fronts -- the use of foreclosure prevention counselors, hiring an MBA graduate assistant to collect data on vacant homes in the city, working with agencies such as Habitat for Humanity, marketing, purchase of computer and software to keep track of properties, and to revise city codes relating to neighborhoods.

-- Authorized eight transfers from the city's assigned fund balance to the following dedicated reserve funds for future purchases, renovations, repairs and obligations -- police capital equipment, fire capital equipment, public works capital equipment, Dwyer Stadium, public facilities capital, capital sidewalk reconstruction, administrative services equipment and software, and employee benefit accrued liability.

-- Approved an agreement with Wells Fargo that allows the city to hire a contractor to demolish the single-family residence at 23 Columbia Ave., which has been vacant for quite some time and has numerous code violations, and then receive reimbursement from Wells Fargo for all costs associatied with the demolition (estimated to be around $25,000). 

"Preferably we would like them (banks) to demolish these types of homes rather than us, but in this instance this may be quicker," Molino said.

Molino said the condemed property on Columbia Avenue is "outside the ordinary" and this method could be used again to put pressure on lending institutions to meet their responsibilities.

-- Extended a contract with Environmental Solutions (U.S.) Ltd. to continue its removal of alum sludge from the Wastewater Treatment Plant off Pearl Street, action that adds $400,000 to the cost but still keeps the project under the original budgeted amount of $2.1 million.

-- Approved, by a 7-1 count, with Rose Mary Christian dissenting, a resolution to submit a request for a NYS Department of Transportation grant to construct sidewalks, high-visibility crosswalks and handicapped ramps in the areas of UMMC, downtown, Batavia school properties, NYS School for the Blind and Austin, Centennial and MacArthur parks. Council agreed to pay 25 percent (5 percent more than required) of the cost to better its chances of receiving funding.

Christian said she voted against it because the proposal did not include funding for any sidewalks in her Sixth Ward.

-- Voted in favor of a lease agreement with Dent Neurologic Institute at 35-39 City Centre for 1,122 square feet of space at $16.50 per square foot -- or $1,851.30 per month -- for a year, with two six-month renewal options.

Molino said the lease agreement would act as a "placeholder until we have an idea of bigger development of the mall."

Dent is using about a fourth of the total space at 35-39 City Centre, which recently was foreclosed upon by the city due to delinquent property taxes. Molino said Dent's lease payments will cover all of the city's costs related to taxes, insurances and maintenance of the property.

August 16, 2016 - 8:34pm

Some of the collaborators that helped create the Batavia Pathways to Prosperity investment fund and other strategies to foster economic development in Genesee County are joining forces to launch a new project -- the START-UP Genesee "Think & Drink" Entrepreneurial Series.

Eight local and state agencies have teamed with Genesee County village business districts to offer the series, which kicks off on Wednesday, Aug. 31, with a networking event celebrating the Harvester Center's 57th anniversary.

The event will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Harvester Center, 22 Masse Place, Batavia. Those with hopes of starting their own businesses and others from the public are invited to attend the session, which will feature local food and beverage entrepreneurs.

Sponsors include Canandaigua National Corp., NYS Small Business Development Center, Mancuso Business Development Group, Batavia Development Corp., Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee County Economic Development Center and Genesee Community College and Batavia Improvement District.

According to a press release issued by the GCEDC, the START-UP Genesee network can assist all types of businesses from early stage planning to site selection, access to capital and product development or diversification.

Business programs in the "Think & Drink" series will be held every few months following the launch event.

The schedule of tours, all free of charge, is as follows:

-- November, Innovation Zone, Technology-based Start-Ups;
-- February 2017, FreshLAB, Food & Beverage Start-Ups;
-- April 2017, GCC, Mastering Your Business Plan;
-- June 2017, Village of Bergen, Main Street Businesses;
-- August 2017, The Harvester Center, Maker Spaces;
-- October  2017, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Start-Ups.

For more information call Rachael Tabelski at 585-343-4866 or by email [email protected].

March 9, 2016 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Batavia Development Corp., BEST Center.

Press release:

Calling all aspiring entrepreneurs and restaurateurs! Here’s your chance to find out if you have what it takes to achieve small business success. The BEST Center at Genesee Community College is partnering with the City of Batavia and the Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) to offer a three-part “Owning Your Own Business” program designed to inspire creativity, fine-tune skills, and chart a true course to prosperity. Those interested will be able to explore, experience, and connect with resources that can help turn a dream into a reality.

“This round, we are encouraging foodie’s who are looking for an affordable turn-key space to open a restaurant AND qualify for up to $5,000 grant to get started in our new freshLAB restaurant incubator,” said Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation. “However, the series is fitting for all business prospects.”

The professionally facilitated program, “Get Underway: Small Business Ownership Series,” begins with a series of FREE one-hour workshops where participants will explore business opportunities, assessing their personal readiness to own and operate a new business. Each session will run from noon to 1 p.m. in the Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia.

The following four sessions are planned and participants are encouraged to attend each one:

  • March 9th         Do I have what it takes to own a small business?
  • March 16th       Can I earn a living through my passion? Why didn’t I think of that business? 
  • March 23rd       How much money do I need to start a business?
  • March 30th       The Sniff Test, assessing your business idea!

The sessions are FREE, you may register online at http://www.genesee.edu/best/ or at the Richmond Memorial Library before class.

The second part of the program goes beyond the basics to help participants fully develop a business concept and transition into becoming a business manager. These five, weekly Wednesday evening sessions are mandatory if participants want to access grant resources available through the City of Batavia Microenterprise Grant Program. The sessions will run from 6 to 9 p.m. at the GCC Batavia Campus. The Wednesday evening sessions also feature topical guest speakers:

  • April 6th           Trials, tribulations & skills of a successful business leader
  • April 13th          Marketing strategies to increase sales
  • April 20th          Using financial information to guide my business
  • April 27th          Learning to “manage” a business
  • May 4th             Business plan presentation and networking

The five-week course costs $125 and participants will receive a certificate upon successful completion. Registration for this course is also available online at http://www.genesee.edu/best/. Questions please contact the Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) at 585-345-6380.

On a parallel path, the BDC will help entrepreneurs navigate the many options available to help fund their business start-up or expansion. Loan and grant programs are available from the city, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

“We’ll meet individually with entrepreneurs to discuss the best options that match their qualifications and needs,” said Julie Pacatte, Economic Development Coordinator. “We’re very excited to introduce the new opportunity for aspiring restaurant operators, too!”

The Small Business Ownership series is funded, in part, by the New York State Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant. 

See the Small Business Ownership Series program brochure and freshLAB overview attached. For more information, contact Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation, at 585-345-6380 or [email protected].

February 28, 2012 - 11:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Batavia Development Corp..

Among the accomplishments of the Business Development Corp. in 2011 was hiring an economic development coordinator, Board President Ray Chaya told city council members Monday night.

Now the BDC is getting down to the business of growing business.

Chaya and Julie Pacette presented the BDC's action plan for 2012, which includes improving the real estate market, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and becoming a friendlier city.

The second half of 2011 was pretty good for the BDC, Chaya said -- six loans for small businesses in Batavia were approved in 2011.

"It was quiet for some time, but has picked up," Chaya said. "Julie being on the street, talking to people, is something we’ve never been able to do before, so I really think it’s going to help drive some new business."

BDC Board Member Gregg Torrey is the group's champion for improving the real estate environment, which will include pushing forward with applications for $400,000 in Main Street grants from the state.

To qualify, property owners must cover at least 60 percent of the project costs.

Pacette said the BDC has already received grant applications totaling $700,000 in project costs and is looking for more applications to consider forwarding to the state for approval.

Pacette said the BDC hopes to get the applications through the process pretty quickly.

"We don't want to miss this construction season," Pacette said. "We hope to get the money on the street working this summer."

Chaya will spearhead efforts to foster a greater entrepreneurial spirit, which could include workshops for businesses on a variety of topics.

Brenda Richardson, manager at Coffee Culture, and City Manager Jason Molino, are champions of the action plan for making Batavia a friendlier city, which covers everything from ramping up customer service training for small businesses to streamlining government processes for small businesses.

Council members seemed to react favorably to the presentation.

"It validates the point we've been saying all along," Councilwoman Patti Pacino said. "We have all of the things to make our city a place where, when you drive through you say, 'I want to live here.' It's very exciting. It's happening."

October 24, 2011 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Batavia Development Corp..

Press release:

The Batavia Development Corporation as administrator of the City of Batavia small business loan funds, has approved and closed the fourth loan this year to spur economic activity within the city. A total of $72,000 has been distributed for assistance in business start-up and acquisition, purchase of new equipment and working capital.

“Receiving this business loan has changed my life,” said Kate Gonzalez, longtime resident of Batavia and new owner of the Enchanted Florist on Main Street, Batavia. “I can not say enough good things about this program.”

Gonzalez received a $22,000 loan to use toward purchase of the successful flower shop that gives Gonzalez the opportunity to become her own boss after 25+ years of florist experience.

Last month, Sunny’s restaurant received a loan to purchase new kitchen equipment. In August, master-barber Brandon Armstrong of City Styles received start-up funds to open his shop on Ellicott Street providing hot-towel shaves and contemporary styles like unique fades and brush-cuts. And, Colin Dentino was able to add new equipment and hire additional employees to deliver professional and entertaining “fencing” classes through En Garde.

Overall, these businesses were able to hire three new full-time persons, five part-time employees and retain two jobs with these funds.

The City of Batavia now offers the only small business grant and loan program available in Genesee County allowing requests as low as $1,000 up to $50,000. Eligible applicants must be located within city limits and use funds for business activities within the City of Batavia. Contact the Batavia Development Corporation for more information by dialing 585-345-6380 or visit online at www.BataviaDevelopmentCorp.org

Photo, by Howard Owens: Kate Gonzalez, center, with her mother, Margaret Anna, left, and her daughter, Rachael Heatherman.

August 18, 2011 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Batavia Development Corp..

Press release:

Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) today announced its appointment of Julie Pacatte as the Economic Development Coordinator for the BDC. Ms. Pacatte was selected following a statewide recruitment process.

Ms. Pacatte has been involved with various aspects of economic development for the greater part of 20 years. From 1993-2003, she worked in real estate development in both Florida and Maryland. From 2003-2005, Julie served as the director of external affairs for the Schoharie County, NY, Chamber of Commerce in the Capital District region. From 2006-2010, Julie served as an economic development associate and Empire Zone coordinator for the Schoharie County Industrial Development Agency prior to relocating to Clarence, NY, with her family last year.

BDC President Ray Chaya said, “We are delighted to have Julie join our team. She brings a great deal of experience and background to Batavia and we look forward to working closely with her and other groups in the community to further push the city’s economic development efforts.”

The Batavia Development Corporation is a local development corporation established in 1994 to assist with economic development, redevelopment and job creation efforts within the City of Batavia. Since 2003, the City and BDC have accessed several statewide economic development programs in order to make small business loans and grants locally. As a result, more than $1.3 million has been awarded to 80 small businesses in the city that has leveraged nearly $2.5 million of private investment. Approximately 280 jobs have been created or retained in the last seven years.

“Julie brings a breath of fresh air to our economic development plans for the city. Her experience with communities of similar size to Batavia will be great asset moving forward,” commented BDC Vice President Dan Fischer.

Ms. Pacatte will be focused on administering the city revolving loan funds, assisting with small business development and growth, industrial/mixed use development, downtown growth/revitalization and administering economic development grant programs.

Currently the BDC offers two separate small business loan programs: a loan up to $30,000 to create or retain jobs and a grant/loan program providing up to $10,000 grant/$10,000 loan targeting business owners that are low to moderate income or have at least 51 percent of their employees in the low to moderate income level.

The new economic development coordinator position was funded through a formal partnership between the BDC and the City of Batavia. The partnership between the BDC and the city calls for $90,000 annual budget for a two-year trial period offering a $60,000 salary. The city has contributed $10,000 while the balance of funds are committed from the separate revolving loan program. Ms. Pacatte’s office is located in City Hall on the second floor.

Please contact Julie Pacatte at 345-6380 or visit the Batavia Development Corporation website at www.bataviadevelopmentcorp.org for more information.

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