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Batavia Development Corporation

February 25, 2021 - 9:05am

Anyone who follows the activities of the Batavia City Council is fully aware of the fact that longtime Council Member Rose Mary Christian – in her unique brusque and outspoken style – strongly advocates for her Sixth Ward (the Southside), fully supports the city’s police and fire department, and constantly looks out for the taxpayer.

On Wednesday, she contacted The Batavian to share her views on a few items currently on Council’s docket, starting with the management situation at the Batavia Ice Rink on Evans Street.

Christian said she is not on board with a recommendation before the city’s governing body to allow Firland Management, the company that operates the rink, to make a lease payment nine months after the original due date and to contribute a reduced amount to the rink’s capital improvement fund.

Council, at Monday night’s Conference Meeting, agreed to forward the proposal to its March 8th Business Meeting for a formal vote.

A memo from Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski to Council spells out a reworking and extension of the lease agreement with Firland, reducing and deferring the firm’s payments due to the impact of COVID-19 upon its bottom line in 2020. The rink was closed for most of the year and just recently has welcomed back youth league and high school hockey teams.

Christian said she doesn’t buy that reasoning.

“There are numerous businesses in the City of Batavia that are hurting,” she said. “Are we going to defer anything for them – property taxes, school taxes, anything? I don’t think so, and that’s why I’m not voting for the resolution coming in two weeks.”

Tabelski, through negotiations with Firland, introduced a plan to let Firland make its next lease payment of $25,000 on Jan. 1, 2022 instead of the current due date of March 1, 2021, and also to reduce its contribution to the rink’s capital fund for 2020-21 from $32,958.30 to $5,000.

She also is proposing to extend the contract from its current ending date of March 31, 2021 for two years through March 2023.

Therefore, Firland’s lease payments will be $20,000 annually for 2021-22 and 2022-23 and its capital fund contribution will be $5,000 annually for the next two fiscal years.

Christian said the city has seen its revenue decline and, noting the costs involved with maintaining the rink, feels it would be unwise to go this route.

“Rachael sent me an email stating that the annual cost for keeping the refrigeration system at the rink is $11,500, and the city pays for that,” Christian said. “So, in reality, taxpayer money is used to cover that expense.”

Tabelski explained that the intent of the lease and capital payments (paid to the city by Firland) covers the costs of maintenance at the facility and contributes to the Ice Rink Reserve for Capital Improvements.

The city currently has $370,000 in ice rink reserves. If the refrigeration system was to fail, it could cost up to $750,000 to purchase and install a new one.

“That’s a far cry if it comes to $700,000 and we have to replace it,” Christian said. “And that becomes another burden upon city taxpayers.”

In a story posted on The Batavian on Tuesday, Tabelski suggested the manager’s office – within a year or so -- conduct an analysis and study, and present a strategy to Council “with the goal of bringing it back to full capacity and to potentially attract a buyer.”

Christian said she hopes someone or an organization would purchase the facility.

“We do not belong in business. I, myself, would like to privatize that all the way so someone can own it and take care of the responsibility,” she said. “Not every child in Batavia is afforded that ice rink. They can’t afford the fees charged to play hockey; it’s just the elite.”

Christian sounded off on a couple of other recent City Council agenda items:

-- On having vacant public safety positions in the 2021-22 budget:

“I’m sorry that we have to not fill a couple positions with the police department and the fire department. Safety is my No. 1 concern,” she said.

Christian said city funds used to support the Batavia Development Corp. should go back into the general fund, and potentially could be used to hire public safety personnel.

Tabelski, in response to an email from The Batavian, stated that the city is paying $95,000 to the BDC this year – down from the usual amount of $110,000 -- “via an agreement that was established years ago to provide economic development services in the City.”

She explained that the BDC is a public authority and has its own budget and operating costs, and can bring in its own revenue at times from grants, project fees or real estate sales. Recently, the entity has been successful in obtaining New York Main Street grants and money from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative for several building renovation projects in the city.

The BDC employs a full-time director of economic development at a current salary of $65,000.

Christian said the corporation should be at a point where it can sustain itself.

“Do you know where that salary belongs? It belongs with the BDC. They should be paying for it,” she said.

-- On the strong possibility that the city will contract with the Genesee Area Family YMCA for its after-school and summer recreation programs:

“I’m happy that (District Executive Director) Jeff Townsend is going to be in charge of it for the YMCA. I think they are going to do an outstanding job for the kids,” she said.

Christian said the $1,100 rent payment to City Church for the use of the Liberty Center for Youth (the former St. Anthony’s School building) on Liberty Street is fair.

“It’s a good fee for that building. It will serve the kids well and also it will be used on Tuesday nights for their open gymnasium.”

January 28, 2021 - 12:05pm

Much along the lines of a circus juggler, Andrew Maguire is determined to keep the balls in the air as he tracks the many City of Batavia projects funded by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Building Improvement Fund and New York Main Street grant programs.

Maguire, director of economic development for the Batavia Development Corporation, went through his list of what he called “2021 milestone projects” and other irons in the fire during the agency’s monthly board meeting this morning via Zoom videoconferencing.

“There are a couple of big ones, obviously,” he said. “Ellicott Station (the mixed-use venture on the former Soccio & Della Penna and Santy’s Tire Sales property on Ellicott Street) is hopefully going to be beginning construction in early spring and projections for the Healthy Living Campus (YMCA project on East Main Street) are for the fall of 2021 to begin construction and demolition. Those two big ones alone should equate to almost $50 million of investment into the city.”

Maguire said he was confident that the City Centre Mall and Jackson Square projects also would commence construction this year, as well as Main Street 56 Theater (at the City Centre), 206 E. Main St. (Main Street Pizza Company building), 201 E. Main St. (GO ART!), 39-43 Jackson St. (corner building next to School Street), 97 Main St. (old Genesee Bank building) and 219 E. Main St. (Fieldstone Private Wealth - Ameriprise Financial Services).

“These are all projects that will run through our grant programs. So, they do have time frames they have to comply with so I’m pretty confident that all of these on this list will be moving to the construction phase in 2021 – which should yield over $50 million total investment through the grant funding program,” Maguire said.

He admitted the DRI process is “kind of tedious and relatively slow” but, again, said he expects the City Centre, Jackson Square, Ellicott Station and Healthy Living Campus “will all be hitting the ground running in 2021, which I’m excited about.”

Going down the list, Maguire reported the following:

  • 206 E. Main St. (Main Street Pizza Company building).

He said an asbestos survey was being done and that owner Paul Marchese is expected to finalize the design plan by early February. “As soon as I get my hands on it, it is going out the door to get bid out,” he said.

  • 242 Ellicott St. (corner of Liberty Street).

With a salon downstairs and two apartments upstairs, owners have completed the interior work and are waiting for the weather to break to do the façade work, Maguire said, adding that it should be done in early spring.

  • 99 Main St., (old Mane Attraction building, now a dental office).

“They’re getting some stuff cleaned out right now and hopefully we will see some big dumpsters in the near future,” Maguire said.

  • 109-111 Main St. (Eli Fish Brewing Company and restaurant).

The owners selected Whitney East as their preferred developer and it is going on to construction pretty soon, Maguire said.

  • 39-43 Jackson St. (just north of School Street).

Maguire said he is working with the City Planning & Development Committee to get the site plan on to the latter’s agenda, adding that it needs county planning approval as well.

  • 201 E. Main St. (GO ART!).

He said that GO ART! officials are working with a local lead paint tester to determine the extent of that potential issue.

  • 219 E. Main St. (Fieldstone - Ameriprise).

“We’re working through an environmental checklist there. Obviously, there was an adjacent dry cleaner years ago and that could require further environmental testing,” Maguire said.

  • 97 Main St. (old Genesee Bank building).

Maguire said the plans are top-notch, but won’t be delivered until after completion of State Historic Preservation Office testing.

  • 33-39 Ellicott St. (Batavia Tailors & Cleaners, Domino’s, DiMatteo law firm, Village Audiology).

The building owner (Batavia Tailors) will be contracting for façade work and heating/cooling work, and also is required to perform environmental testing, Maguire said.

In other action, the board:

  • Voted in favor of additional three-year terms for members Lori Aratari, Christine Fix, Nate Varland and Rebecca Cohen, and one-year appointments to the executive committee for Aratari, president; Wesley Bedford, vice president; Jake Whiting, secretary, and Cohen, treasurer.
  • Modified language in the Performance Evaluation Policy to include that a review of the director’s job performance will be conducted by the executive committee, not a “committee” as previously stated.
  • Learned from Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski that the agency’s financial reports, generated by the City of Batavia, won’t be converted to the city’s new software system until sometime in 2022. Varland requested some type of “financial health at a glance” report to make it easier to determine the BDC’s financial standing rather than having to look at multiple documents. Maguire offered to compile a “budget actual, which would be simpler format to look at” moving forward.
January 26, 2021 - 4:21pm

If you’re looking to see the value in the Batavia Development Corporation, look no further than what was accomplished through the Eli Fish Brewing Company and Newberry Lofts project that rejuvenated the former JJ Newberry building at 109-111 Main St.

That’s was the centerpiece of a PowerPoint presentation by Andrew Maguire, director of economic development for the city-supported agency, during Monday night’s City Council Conference meeting.

Maguire said his mission was to highlight the BDC’s “history of success through various programs and the economic impact they carry, current projects the BDC is working on in the city and future goals and continued economic development.”

Regarding the Eli Fish venture, Maguire called it a “transformative” project and outlined the ways the BDC played a part in its success:

  • Built in 1881, it was the original home of JJ Newberry’s store for more than 60 years. Its assessed value in 2015 was $250,000;
  • Vacant for several years, it needed substantial rehabilitation;
  • It was purchased in 2015 with the goal to rehabilitate the building and create a brewery, restaurant and seven market-rate residential apartments on the upper floors;
  • The BDC secured a $500,000 NY Main Street Anchor Grant for the proposed project and sought other funding sources, including a $100,000 National Grid grant and then secured a $67,835 USDA Rural Business Development Grant for a project inside of this project.

“It was a first of its kind in our area – two restaurant incubators inside of brewery, coined FreshLabs, which offered cooking competition to entrepreneurs and the two winners receiving a grant, loan and incubator space inside the Eli Fish brewery to help them start their business,” Maguire said.

He reported that the project – which turned out costing more than $2 million – began in 2016 after all of the funding was secured, and that the BDC played a “critical role in project setup, capital stack (funding), and project and grant administration to see the project through to completion.”

As a result, the project was completed in 2018 and features a brewery, three restaurants and four market-rate apartments created in the vacant, historic building.

Maguire said the proof of the project’s worth is in the increase of the assessed value to $987,000, while sales tax has increased, tourism has been generated and more than 30 jobs have been created.

The Eli Fish project is one of several being facilitated by the BDC through the NY Main Street Grant, Downtown Revitalization Initiative Building Improvement Fund and Downtown Revitalization Grant, Maguire said.

He revealed a chart showing 28 projects received $11.3 million in grants but generated $54.4 million in private investment. Included are 103 residential units and 96 commercial units.

Maguire said the BDC continues to pursue other grants, such as the revolving loan fund grant, National Grid grants and USDA Rural Development Block grants, and also have attracted NYS Empire State Development Restore New York and Brownfield Opportunity Area Study grants.

These projects have increased the assessed value of the parcels by $5.79 million, Maguire reported, and noted that the Main Street Theater 56 project will generate more than $44,000 of annual rent revenue after moving into underutilized vacant parcels from the City of Batavia.

“These projects and programs create a vibrant city people want to work in, live in and play in,” he said. “… The results we have obtained and the future goals we shall obtain will carry a positive impact on our city’s quality of life for generations to come. It is critical that we do not lose sight of this and we continue to have boots on the ground to help these projects from the starting line to the finish line and continue this process for years to come.”

Afterward, Council Member Rose Mary Christian asked Maguire about the status of the Ellicott Station DRI project on the former Soccio & Della Penna and Santy’s Tire Sales property on Ellicott Street.

He said the developer, Savarino Companies, is “poised to close by the end of this quarter (March) … and plan on construction starting in early spring 2021.”

Christian praised V.J. Gautieri Constructors for their work on renovating the Save-A-Lot building across the street, but called the condition of Ellicott Station “deplorable.”

November 25, 2020 - 11:24am

It’s safe to say that Andrew Maguire, director of economic development for the Batavia Development Corporation, is thankful that several City of Batavia projects are progressing smoothly with the November holiday just one day away.

Maguire, at this morning’s BDC meeting via Zoom videoconferencing, updated the organization’s directors on the project tracking of four Building Improvement Fund ventures as well as three projects identified through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program.

Building Improvement Fund

  • 109-111 Main St., Eli Fish Brewing Co. building. Maguire said the project, which calls for construction of three third-floor apartments, went out to bid last week and is being vetted through contractors.

The project is receiving $137,600 of the $600,000 in Building Improvement Funds that the BDC was awarded via the DRI.

“Hopefully, we get some really good bids back next month or in January so Matt (Gray) can get started,” he said.

  • 206 E. Main St., Main Street Pizza Co. building. Maguire said the owner, Paul Marchese, is working with his architectural firm to finalize his designs.

“After that, we will run it through code and zoning to make sure there are no major issues. I’m hoping that can go out to bid in December sometime,” he said.

This project, which calls for two second-floor apartments in its initial phase, also qualified for $137,600 in Building Improvement Funds and another $75,000 through the New York Main Street grant program.

  • 242 Ellicott St., corner of Ellicott Street. Maguire said the work – rehabilitating a one-bedroom unit upstairs along with numerous exterior improvements – is almost done.

The project was awarded $27,200 in NYMS funds.

  • 39-43 Jackson St. (Art Ah La Carte, Gilliana’s Diner, Michael Anthony’s Hair Salon). Maguire said the project, which received $100,000 in BIF money, calls for façade work on the entire building and work on the roof as well.

“SBI (Single Burning Item) testing results came back – they were negative, as in positive, which is a good thing,” he said. “We wanted that to be negative so (the owner) doesn’t have any more hoops to jump through with ventilation systems and things of that nature. We will be working with the state to get plans finalized and get it out to bid.”

Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Maguire informed directors that the City Planning & Development Committee approved a redesign of the elevator shaft of the Ellicott Place (Save-A-Lot) project, design engineers are meeting frequently to finalize plans for the Healthy Living Campus (YMCA) and City Council expects to approve a design firm for the Jackson Square project next month.

September 16, 2020 - 10:34pm

The New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency has approved an award of $5,691,573 for Ellicott Station, a mixed-use brownfield development project to be built on the site of the former Soccio & Della Penna construction company and Santy’s Tire Sales on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia.

Minutes from a July 14th teleconference meeting of HCR’s Housing Trust Fund Corporation, a subsidiary public benefit corporation of the NYS Housing Finance Agency, reveal that Savarino Companies of Buffalo, project developer, was one of 19 initiatives receiving assistance.

The minutes also indicate that the committee members "hereby provide that this authorization will lapse after 360 days if a closing on all sources of construction financing sufficient to complete the project has not occurred."

The plan for Ellicott Station, with a price tag of $22.5 million, is to construct 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.

The venture has received funding ($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.

In December 2016, the project was awarded a $1.9 million Consolidated Application Grant through the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council. It was introduced to the public by Batavia Development Corporation officials at a press conference nine months earlier.

A telephone call and text message to Chief Executive Officer Samuel Savarino have yet to be returned.

Batavia's Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski said that Savarino Companies have paid all of the building permit fees to the city, a sign that activity could be underway in the near future.

According to its website, the HTFC’s mission is to further community development through the construction, development, revitalization and preservation of low-income housing, the development and preservation of businesses, the creation of job opportunities, and the development of public infrastructures and facilities.

Financing resources include agency-issued tax-exempt, taxable, and 501(c)(3) bonds, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and subsidy loans.

The HTFC also authorized a $4 million award to Home Leasing LLC of Rochester for its Liberty Square project, a 55-unit, four-story apartment building that is under construction on a parcel of land that had been the site of homes at 552, 554 and 556 E. Main St., Batavia.

Twenty-eight of the apartments will be set aside for homeless veterans with the remainder designated as affordable for lower-income residents.

The total cost of that development is expected to exceed $12 million.

July 30, 2020 - 10:39am

Batavia Development Corporation board members this morning sounded off about the lack of security and activity at the former Soccio & Della Penna/Santy’s Tire Sales property on Ellicott Street that has been designated as the site of the proposed Ellicott Station mixed-use redevelopment project.

Initially announced to the public in March 2016, Ellicott Station is a $22 million project of the Savarino Cos., of Buffalo, headed by CEO Samuel J. Savarino. Plans call for mitigation of the three acres in the City’s Brownfield Opportunity Area, followed by construction of a 55-unit apartment complex, restaurant, beer garden and brewery.

The venture has received funding ($425,000) from Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and also has been approved for $3.6 million in tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

At today’s BDC meeting via Zoom, Board Member Pier Cipollone reported that the site is not secure and safe while fellow Board Member Steve Pies questioned why at least “one little thing” hasn’t been done to improve or clean up the property.

“I was driving by the Ellicott Station property and I noticed that the gate -- it looked like someone had knocked it through, and there were five young kids at the back of the building, the garage building,” Cipollone said. “One appeared to be trying to jimmy a window and a bunch of others were throwing stones at the top of the building.”

Cipollone said he called police, but did so “more from the position of the … building might fall on them, more than the damage to the building.”

He asked Andrew Maguire, director of economic development, to contact Savarino to secure the property.

“It’s not a safe site right now, especially for kids,” Maguire said. “The last thing we want is somebody to get hurt over there, (and) that’s why it should be closed up and secured properly.”

Maguire said he will contact Courtney Cox, project manager for Savarino Cos., and ask him to fix the gate and make sure it is locked to keep people out.

Pies said Batavia residents deserve to see some activity on the site, considering that more than four years have passed.

“So, obviously we have a new biking trail now (Ellicott Trail), which is awesome, in our community, which literally goes right by that building. I think it’s safe to say we’re in many overtimes right now with this project,” Pies said. “I never want to sound naïve because I know it’s a marathon, not a sprint; I know they all wait for the money and I know COVID and everything else, but if I’m not mistaken, Sam has verbally said, ‘This is my property and am fully committed. I still have to wait for the money, but I am still going forward regardless.’ ”

Pies said all he is looking for is a reason for people to feel confident that the project is still in the works.

“We’re asking for some little things that would go such a long way in this community – like freshening up something or doing one little thing,” he said. “And the fact that he doesn’t seem to do one little thing, when he’s completely, verbally supposedly committed and invested fully, I think at this point, it’s so questionable. Is that a fair statement, in your opinion?”

Maguire said it was a “fair statement” and promised to set up a meeting with Cox.

“Typically, in the development world you don’t see a lot of action until financing is secured,” Maguire said. “Regardless, could we see some action? I hope so.”

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski said her staff is taking a close look at some of the agreements with Savarino, including documentation concerning an easement for the storm sewer – or grand canal – that runs under the property.

“(That’s) one of the other things that makes the development even more challenging – even more challenging than developing in a flood zone, and we just had that document updated and executed,” she said. “In terms of engagement, when we do need something and we want to work with them, (we expect that) they’re there and willing to work with us. We’re getting that on file.”

She also said the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on grant announcements. Savarino has been waiting to hear about his application for funding through the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal.

“Whatever is happening with grant programs and HCR, specifically, which is the one they’re waiting on, COVID has put us behind any type of announcements like that,” Tabelski advised. “We’re all kind of in this together waiting.”

Maguire said progress is being made despite no actual construction.

“Obviously, we don’t see dozers out there and now, after hearing what Pier had to say, apparently the fence needs to be relocked,” he said. “I will reach out to Courtney and maybe schedule a meeting next week and we can sit down and dive into this a little bit further to see what their plans are, their projections and time frames, what they’ve done, what they need. They are committed to this project.”

Cipollone left the board with a “reminder” that Savarino assured the City Planning & Development Committee after receiving planning approvals that he would secure the buildings.

“He also gave me a verbal commitment as we were walking out of the building – ‘I will board up the windows, I will start demolition on the garage,’ ” he said. “And that’s the first thing he has to do because it is physically sitting on two separate pieces of property – on the property line.”

June 25, 2020 - 1:07pm

Four Main Street projects and another on Ellicott Street will be receiving New York Main Street grants, it was announced at today’s Batavia Development Corporation’s monthly meeting.

BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire said that grants totaling $276,977 will be distributed to the following applicants who are planning to rehabilitate buildings within the Downtown Revitalization Initiative/Business Improvement District:

-- 206 E. Main St., (Main Street Pizza Company, The Spa at Artemis Spa building), $75,000, for a two-phased project consisting of façade renovation and, eventually, development of five residential units upstairs.

-- 201 E. Main St. (GO ART!), $75,000, for renovation of the sprinkler system and conversion to a mixed-use building with a single “artist residency.”

-- 219 E. Main St. (Fieldstone Private Wealth), $50,000, for façade and brick work, and exterior lighting.

-- 97 Main St. (old Genesee Bank building), $50,000, for rehabilitation of the first two floors to make it a viable commercial unit.

-- 33-39 Ellicott St. (Batavia Tailors building), $26,977, for heating/air conditioning work and façade renovation to achieve a uniform look with the rest of the building.

Maguire said the BDC received 11 applications for the grants.

New York Main Street grants are administered through the state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency to units of local government, and not-for-profit organizations for the revitalization of historic downtowns, mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts, and village centers.

Targeted commercial/residential improvements include façade renovations, interior commercial and residential building upgrades, and streetscape enhancements.

Entrepreneurs who accept the grants pay for expenses up front and are reimbursed according to parameters set by NYMS administrators. Projects under the program are given a two-year window for completion.

In other action, the board approved the audit for the fiscal year of April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020 conducted by Laura Landers of Freed Maxick.

The audit noted a “material weakness” in that legal services in the amount of $28,591 were not recorded as accounts payable and a $20,000 grant from the City of Batavia was recorded as revenue instead of unearned revenue, since the requirements of the grant agreement had not been met as of March 31. Thus, the agency’s net position was overstated by $48,591.

The accounting firm recommended that the BDC obtain listings of outstanding legal fees from attorneys involved and review funding sources to ensure all revenue has met the requirements to be considered earned as of year-end.

Maguire said that management is taking the steps stipulated by Freed Maxick to correct these deficiencies.

The agency’s net position increased by about $20,000 from 2019 to 2020 – from $152,741 to $172,569.

The board also voted to amend the bylaws to increase the number of voting members from nine to 11 and then approved adding Pier Cipollone, a former BDC president, as a full-fledged director.

June 25, 2020 - 11:53am

parklets-1.jpg

Expanded outdoor dining opportunities in the short term; parklets in the long term.

Andrew Maguire, executive director of the Batavia Development Corporation, touted both ideas this morning as he emphasized the importance of providing opportunities for local restaurants to generate as much revenue as possible.

Speaking at the BDC Board of Directors meeting via Zoom, Maguire followed up on what was supported by City Council earlier this week: providing a way that restaurant owners can use City-owned property for outdoor dining purposes as they deal with the adverse effects of COVID-19.

“I think this is awesome and I think our restaurants are really going to benefit from this,” Maguire said.

Calling it a “cool new concept,” the temporary measure has been embraced by an economic development task force consisting of representatives from the City, Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District, BDC, Genesee County and the Chamber of Commerce.

“(There are) under-utilized or municipal-owned areas, like Jackson Square, where unfortunately we’re not going to be having concerts there this year. So, it’s pretty much open and available,” Maguire said. “We would like to allow our local restaurateurs to consider areas around their buildings that might be viable options for them to set up some outdoor seating.”

Currently, per mandates from New York State, indoor seating is limited to 50-percent capacity.

“If we can find a way to get them more tables outside, to seat more patrons and to attract more people to our downtown for outdoor dining, that’s really our ultimate goal,” Maguire said, acknowledging City leadership’s role in getting this initiative started.

Maguire encouraged restaurant owners to fill out the Temporary Outdoor Dining on City Property Application and submit it (along with a $250 fee) to the City of Batavia as soon as possible. The application is posted on the BDC’s website.

Turning his attention to future goals, Maguire introduced the directors to the parklet model (see rendering above) where existing parking spots are turned into curbside cubicles for outdoor dining.

“Some big cities, more cutting-edge cities, have these concepts where they allow restaurants or businesses to take areas that would typically be on-street parking (to) design and engineer what they consider a parklet … that’s flush to the curb, ADA (American with Disabilities Act) compliant and (has) outdoor seating,” he said.

Maguire explained that a restaurateur could build a deck and/or structure in front of his or her business, make sure it is protected from traffic by barricades and place some tables and chairs on the parcel. He sees it as a way to attract people to downtown and keep them there a bit longer.

“The goal is to get people to slow down in our downtown,” he said. “A lot times people beeline to where they’re going. If they walk by a parklet, we’re hopeful that they might actually stop or have a cup of coffee, sit in the parklet, read a newspaper … have some outdoor seating and enjoy some fresh air.”

He said that he is working with County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari and BID Director Beth Kemp on a template to present to City Council and, hopefully, get the go-ahead to put the plan in place.

BDC directors asked about the logistics of using existing parking spaces and what streets could be used, noting that Main Street (Route 5) may not be an option because it is a state road.

Maguire said the proposal is in its early stages and details would have to be worked out. He did say that a license agreement would be drafted between the owner and the City, with the stipulation that the owner have proper liability insurance and that the City is not liable in any way.

Director Derek Geib, a downtown restaurateur, said he likes the idea, considering that “50 percent (occupancy) doesn’t cut it to pay the bills.”

“I would like to say that I would start building a parklet tomorrow if I had the opportunity,” he said.

May 28, 2020 - 11:05am

The Batavia Development Corporation has selected five new projects in the downtown area for New York Main Street grants through the state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency.

BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire reported at a board of directors Zoom meeting this morning that award letters have been mailed to five applicants who are looking to rehabilitate buildings within the Downtown Revitalization Initiative/Business Improvement District.

“The total amount of the grants for the five projects is $277,500, and I think all of these awards will be accepted,” Maguire said, adding that he will inform the board of the specifics of the applications prior to its June meeting.

Maguire said three of the projects are residential conversions and “encompassed in those five applications are 10 commercial units.” He said grant amounts vary depending upon the type and extent of the work involved.

The NYMS grant program provides funds to units of local government, and not-for-profit organizations for the revitalization of historic downtowns, mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts, and village centers. Targeted commercial/residential improvements include façade renovations, interior commercial and residential building upgrades, and streetscape enhancements.

Entrepreneurs who accept the grants pay for expenses up front and are reimbursed according to parameters set by NYMS administrators.

In another development, Maguire said that two projects that previously received DRI building improvement funds have reached the construction phase.

Owners of buildings at 99 Main St., (Neppalli Holdings LLC) and at 242 Ellicott St., (Vance Gap LLC) are at a point where they can “start moving forward” on construction, Maguire said.

A grant of $137,600 was awarded to 99 Main St., with the description as follows: first-floor dental practices, second-floor open concept commercial, third-floor high-end market-rate residential, plus façade work. The total project estimated cost is $600,000.

A grant of $27,200 was awarded to 242 Ellicott St., with the description as follows: exterior repair to masonry, fixed fabric awning, windows and fiber cement panel and trim knee wall. Second floor full rehabilitation (residential), common area improvements, windows, lights. The total project estimated cost is $68,000.

In other action, the board:

-- Voted to amend the corporation’s agreement with the City of Batavia to split the City’s $110,000 annual contribution to the agency into two equal payments – one to be made in the first quarter of the fiscal year and the other to be made in the third quarter of the fiscal year -- instead of the full payment at one time.

The City also provides office space, office equipment, and payroll/accounting services to the BDC free of charge.

-- Tabled an amendment to the corporation’s bylaws to increase the number of voting members. When the measure is passed, it would enable former BDC President Pier Cipollone to rejoin the board as a voting member.

-- Heard from City Manager Martin Moore that the developer of the mixed-use Ellicott Station project (the former Soccio & Della Penna site) has been working with the City’s code enforcement department, “walking through approvals” and understanding that to “consummate the lot split, the garage (on the property) has to be gone.”

Batavia City Council members have previously publicly expressed their frustration over the lack of activity at the vacant parcel, which constitutes a significant part of the City’s $10 million DRI award from the state.

May 13, 2020 - 4:03pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, the Batavia Development Corporation and the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District appreciate the response of small businesses to a recently conducted online survey.

With the anticipated resumption of manufacturing and construction services in the Finger Lakes Region on May 15, the business organizations are looking to collaborate in developing a plan to assist small businesses on Main Streets in city, towns and villages across Genesee County to help them ready for their reopening.

"Governor Cuomo's NY Forward plan provides a path for Genesee County and the Finger Lakes Region to reopen intelligently and safely," said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. "The input of our small business community, manufacturers and local leaders shows that re-opening safely is a shared priority, and our economic development team supports that mission."

Conducted the week of May 4th, more than 100 businesses in various sectors, including dining/hospitality, entertainment, fitness, medical services, nonprofit, professional services and retail completed the on-line survey.  Among the highlights:

Challenges to Reopening: Businesses see getting customers back into their doors (63 percent highest or next highest), access to PPE (46 perceny highest or next highest) and developing a safe reopening plan (41 percent highest or next highest) as their biggest challenges to reopening.

Financial Assistance: 63 percent of businesses applied for either the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Payroll Protection Program (PPP) programs. Of those that applied, 50 percent had received EIDL assistance, and 82 percent had received PPP assistance.

Interest in Business Supported Programming: Respondents support a coordinated Genesee County Shop Local campaign (87 percent) expressed interest in safety plan development and training (45 percent).

Along these lines, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce will host a Zoom Webinar on Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. featuring Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee County. 

The topics to be covered during the webinar include the status of the County’s reopening; formulating a reopening plan for your business; sanitation and social distancing tips at your workplace; and, reopening guidance from the Genesee County and Orleans County Health Departments.

The webinar will be accessible at the following link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82534812321?pwd=d1FBUmhQUGxuaWNUY2xqZzlQdkFZdz09

Meeting ID: 825 3481 2321

Password: 295833

Or dial by your location: +1 929 436 2866

April 23, 2020 - 12:30pm

Batavia Development Corporation directors this morning approved the reallocation of $141,000 in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds to five city building owners who had been awarded grants through New York State’s $10 million program.

BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire said this was made possible after three of the eight building owners on the list to receive portions of the BDC's $600,000 business improvement fund (stemming from the DRI) decided not to pursue the renovation projects that were deemed worthy of a DRI award.

The BDC, itself, was awarded $600,000 as a NY Main Street Grant program for the purpose of rehabilitating commercial and residential buildings.

“Three projects have declined to proceed for various reasons, so we are able to take those awards that were accepted and put them back into the pool,” Maguire said. “We are increasing the award amounts to the projects that are continuing … divvying them up as uniformly as we can make it to the projects that are proceeding.”

As a result, these five building owners have the opportunity to benefit as follows, with the total amount of the grant capped at $137,600:

-- 99 Main St., Neppalli Holdings LLC. An additional $37,600, making the total grant $137,600.

Description: First floor dental practices, second floor open concept commercial, third floor high-end market rate residential plus façade work. Total project estimated cost: $600,000.

-- 206 E. Main St., Just Chez Realty. An additional $37,600, making the total grant $137,600.

Description: Restore existing windows, remove vinyl, uncover transoms, new door, restore windows. Façade only at this point. Possible National Grid Main Street Program applicant. Total project estimated cost: $600,000.

-- 109-111 Main St. (Newberry Lofts) Matt Gray/ AGRV Properties. An additional $37,600, making the total grant $137,600.

Description: Elevated living and dining experience, façade, conversion of upstairs to multiuse residential units, repair of building, windows in first floor commercial space. Finish three third floor residential units and add a new awning and patio into Jackson Square, as well as lighting on front façade. Total project estimated cost: $355,221.

-- 242 Ellicott St., Vance Gap LLC. An additional $3,200, making the total grant $27,200.

Description: Exterior repair to masonry, fixed fabric awning, windows and fiber cement panel and trim knee wall. Second floor full rehabilitation (residential), common area improvements, windows, lights. Total project estimated cost: $68,000.

-- 39-43 Jackson St., Waggoner Holdings LLC. An additional $25,000, making the total grant $100,000.

Description: Façade, roof, doors, windows, upper floor office renovations in suite 2 and 3. Total project estimated cost: $250,000.

The three building owners that opted out of the DRI and the amount relinquished were as follows:

-- 238-240 Ellicott St., Paul Marchese, $36,900;
-- 60 Liberty St., John Booth, $59,370;
-- 200 Ellicott St., Paul Tenney, $24,900.

“Our goal was to award the amount available -- $540,000 – and that is where we are at right now,” Maguire said. “If we can continue to improve our downtown area – the buildings and our businesses – hopefully that will have a positive impact once we do go back to normalcy.”

Maguire also reported that the board authorized deferral of monthly payments of about 20 revolving and small city loans back for 90 to 180 days due to the economic situation.

February 25, 2020 - 12:08pm

maguire_bdc_1.jpg

Batavia Development Corporation Executive Director Andrew Maguire borrowed a line often used by his counterpart at the Genesee County Economic Development Corporation on Monday night as he outlined accomplishments and goals of the City-funded agency charged with attracting and facilitating investment.

“Economic development is a marathon, not a sprint,” Maguire said, echoing to a certain extent the message conveyed by Steve Hyde, GCEDC president, in his public addresses.

Maguire, a lifelong Batavian and former clerk-treasurer for the Village of Oakfield, was named to the post on Nov. 18.

He has had to absorb much information in that time as the City of Batavia is in the midst of negotiations to advance several projects that are part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, along with other business-friendly loan and grant programs.

Over the past few years, Batavia has come up with different strategies to spur new development and investment, including remediation of Brownfield Opportunity Area districts, Revolving Loan Fund and Grant programs, New York Main Street Grant program, and the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity Fund PILOT*-- repurposing agreement forged by the five taxing jurisdictions (City of Batavia, Genesee County, Batavia City School District, GCEDC and BDC).

“New development is about what will make Batavia attractive to all entrepreneurs,” Maguire said, adding that the success of these programs can bring about a “Live, Work, Play” lifestyle that young professionals are seeking.

Maguire said the City’s population of 14,396 is projected to decrease considerably over the next 20 years, with about 5,000 less citizens in the 25 to 64 age range. But, he said, that effective economic development could turn things around for a community that has 2.3 million people and 67 colleges within a 60-mile radius.

“HP Hood is set to hire 200 to 250 50 employees, which will double its workforce,” Maguire said, adding that about 75 percent of those who work in the City don’t live in the City.

He also pointed out that the housing situation in Batavia is less than optimal as more than half of housing units are more than 50 years old and “in need of substantial rehabilitation.”

“Industrial growth is outpacing housing (construction),” he said, factors not conducive to attracting millennials who are opting for a “more simplistic lifestyle.”

Maguire said he believes the City is poised for a burst of economic development as long as the DRI projects reach the ground-breaking stage in the near future and the Business Improvement Fund Grant investment reaps a projected three-fold harvest.

“The $10 million DRI projects (including Ellicott Station, Mall/City Centre, Healthy Living/Campus, Creek Park and Batavia Players theater) will result in $64.6 million in investments and the $600,00 BIF will generate another $2 million,” he said. “All programs combined are expected to bring in $72 million in capital investment to the City.”

Maguire, the lone paid employee of an independent agency governed by a board of directors and financially supported by the City, said “it is critical to not let this momentum stop … to increase the quality of life and attract new talent. More than ever, the City needs boots on the ground.”

* The acronym for Payment In Lieu of Taxes.

Photo -- Batavia Development Corporation Executive Director Andrew Maguire during Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

December 9, 2019 - 1:09pm

Savarino Companies of Buffalo, developer of the mixed-use Ellicott Station project that has been in the works for three and a half years, reportedly will be filing an application for residential funding with the New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency on Friday.

“The application deadline is Friday and we’ve been told that one will be filed for the 55 units,” Pier Cipollone, president of the Batavia Development Corporation, said at this morning’s BDC meeting. “They (apartments) are geared toward a mixed-use workforce with a $30,000 to $40,000 salary range for tenants.”

Cipollone said that a decision by HCR on the funding hopefully will come in April or May of next year.

The total cost of the residential part of the project is expected to be around $18 million, Cipollone said, but he noted that the BDC is "not privy to how much Savarino will be asking for in the HCR application."

Cost of the complete Ellicott Station project, which includes apartments, commercial office space and the Resurgence Brewing Company business, is estimated at $22.7 million.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to get a shovel in the ground,” Cipollone said. “We’ve asked Sam (Savarino) to knock down a garage on the (former Santy’s Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna property on Ellicott Street) to start the process.”

Cipollone said once the garage is down, officials can proceed with rezoning the property into three lots -- separating the residential from the commercial per HCR requirements.

He noted that Savarino bought the property from the BDC for $60,000, and still owes all but a $5,000 down payment.

Cipollone also announced that he will be stepping down as president at year’s end due to commitments as an IT consultant. He said he will be speaking with Vice President Wesley Bedford about the pending vacancy.

In other developments:

-- Batavia City Manager Martin Moore said that Theatre 56 has signed a lease with the City, setting the stage for the design phase of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project and necessary construction.

-- BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire reviewed the 2020-21 budget that shows revenues of $110,000 (from the City) and $5,721 (referral fee from Genesee County Economic Development Center) and primary expenses of $65,000 (salary), $35,000 (professional services contracts) and $4,000 (marketing and public relations).

-- The board approved the 2020 meeting schedule, which sets the meeting time and date at 8:30 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month at City Hall second floor.

November 4, 2019 - 3:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, Batavia Development Corporation, batavia.
Andrew Maguire

Submitted photo and press release:

The Batavia Development Corporation is pleased to announce Andrew Maguire as the new executive director of Economic Development.

Maguire, a lifelong resident of Batavia, has served the last five years as the clerk-treasurer for the Village of Oakfield.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from St. John Fisher College.

Maguire replaces Rachael Tabelski, who resigned and accepted the City of Batavia Assistant Manager position a couple months ago.

A recruitment search by the BDC Board of Directors brought in potential job candidates from throughout the region.

The board felt that Maguire’s experience with municipal processes, his experience with grant funding, and knowledge of budgets made him the top choice. 

Maguire is set to begin the position on Nov. 18th.

June 27, 2019 - 9:00pm

The executive director of GO ART! spoke plainly to Batavia Development Corporation board members this morning -- it needs funding ASAP in order to make badly needed improvements to its headquarters -- the historic Seymour Building at 201 E. Main St.

GO ARTS!'s Gregory Hallock asked board members to provide financial backing for a $50,000 loan, which would make the nonprofit eligible for funding from the NY Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Arts and Cultural Facilities Improvement Program Mid-Size Capital Project.

The NYSCA grant is available through the Empire State Development Regional Council Capital Fund (REDC) initiative. GO ART! must prove its ability to finance restoration projects in order to qualify for $150,000 in state funding. 

Hallock’s request comes after the New York Preservation League conducted an assessment of the GO ART! property and identified areas for improvement totaling $500,000. Hallock determined that at least $176,000 is required for immediate changes to the building. 

High-priority needs include the installation of both an air-conditioning unit and elevator. Hallock said he wants second-floor offices and meeting spaces to be available for rent within the next few months in order for the building to remain accessible and easy to use.

Hallock said time is of the essence. The REDC grant application is due July 27, but GO ART! will not know if it received that state funding until December. He's also waiting to hear back about grant applications to organizations in Buffalo and Rochester, but those responses will not arrive until August. 

“$500,000 is what [the improvement cost] is marked at now,” Hallock said. “They said this number is going to grow substantially. So, that’s why there is a priority on my list of things to get done to get this grant money. Also, the REDC doesn’t guarantee this money is going to be there from year to year.”

In response, Rachael Tabelski, BDC director of economic development, proposed that the BDC could back the $50,000 loan, so NYSCA could see GO ART! has access to funds for this capital project.

“We would be issuing a long-term, conditional offer to match these state funds,” Tabelski said.

Tabelski offered that BDC could set aside $50,000 of its Revolving Loan Fund for GO ART! and issue a conditional loan approval with an expiration date. Then, Hallock could return periodically with updates on the project scope and costs. 

According to this proposed plan, the board could keep extending its conditional loan approval until the grant is potentially awarded to GO ART! Hallock noted that GO ART! may never have to tap into the loan if it qualifies for the grant. 

“We get repaid with the funds down the road. One way or another, this will go through. So, this is a fairly safe loan,” said Pierluigi "Pier" Cipollone, BDC board president.

The board did not vote on the conditional loan today, but Hallock is slated to update board members on GO ART!’s progress toward grants and renovations. He will return at the board’s meeting at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 22 in Batavia City Centre.

September 26, 2018 - 1:00pm

rest_and_revive_1.jpg

The Batavia Development Corporation has decided to “float” a loan to a longtime Batavia businessman who believes he has tapped into the next big thing in healthy relaxation methods.

At its meeting this morning at the City Centre, BDC board members voted unanimously to extend a $30,000 loan to Gary VanValkenburg and his partner, Brandon Buckle, (left to right in photo above), toward the opening of Rest & Revive Float Center at 596 E. Main St.

The site of the new business, which VanValkenburg said he expects to open around Dec. 1, was most recently known as The Bed Room.

In fact, VanValkenburg has been in the bedding business – waterbeds and conventional mattresses – for close to 45 years, following an 11-year stint selling television sets.

He told the BDC board that the bedding business is difficult these days – “everybody is selling mattresses,” he said – and that he realized it was time to find his “niche.”

After being introduced to the “float tank” concept by a visiting professional violinist about three years ago, VanValkenburg said he did some research and is confident in the product’s strength.

“I found a niche. It is on the up curve,” he said. “Over the last three years, (sales) are up by 25 percent. More and more float centers are popping up all over the place.”

VanValkenburg said his center will feature three float tanks – a 4-foot by 8-foot tank, another in a float room and a float pod. He said they are filled with about 10 to 12 inches of water and 800 pounds of Epsom salt.

“You can’t sink,” he said. “It’s more dense than the Dead Sea.”

He explained that users take a shower (a shower is next to each tank) before entering the tank for (usually) 90 minutes and afterward. The tank can be used with the lid open or closed, in a dark room or lit room and with or without music.

“I have arthritis and I tried it, and there was no pain (afterward),” he said. “And it lasted for four, five, six days. It is therapeutic and because there is no gravity, it’s like you’re up on a cloud. It totally relaxes you.”

VanValkenburg said the therapy can help alleviate arthritis, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches and other conditions, and could even benefit those with autism.

Buckle said the tanks are sanitary.

“The amount of salt in the tanks makes it a hostile environment for pathogens,” he said. “As far as bacteria, you don’t have to worry about that.”

He said that the tanks are cleaned for 30 minutes after each use, and are on a regular schedule for deep cleaning and maintenance. Each unit has its own ozone generator, he added.

Buckle said there will be a retail component to the business as well in the form of float beds and other health-related products.

The business partners also have secured a $225,000 loan from Tompkins Bank of Castile and a $100,000 loan from Genesee County Economic Development Center to cover the total cost of the project, VanValkenburg said. The BDC loan is for five years with a 4-percent interest rate.

VanValkenburg said the center will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. He said the fee to use a tank is $65 but discounts will be available for Rest & Revive members.

In other developments, the BDC board:

-- Reluctantly accepted the resignation of Treasurer Mary Valle, who will be stepping down immediately due to a “conflict of interest.”

Valle said that she, as owner of Valle Jewelers on Jackson Street, and her children, who own the building at the west corner of Ellicott Street and Liberty Streets, plan to apply for some of the available Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds to expand their business ventures.

-- Voted to change the corporation’s designation from 501(c)(4) to 501(c)(3) to make it easier to accept charitable contributions, especially land donations.

-- Authorized President Pier Cipollone and Director Rachael Tabelski as authorized signers to expedite proceedings relating to the Ellicott Station project.

Tabelski said the BDC is communicating with Savarino Companies of Buffalo on a regular basis, but would not say when ground would be broken on the development.

“Every day we gain momentum as each piece is finalized,” she said.

-- Voted to reformat and expand the Building Improvement Handbook for the DRI Building Improvement Fund at a cost of no more than $3,300. Tabelski said the cost is reimbursable through the DRI.

-- Expects the City of Batavia’s commitment of $15,000 to fund Phase II environmental work at the Creek Park site (behind Falleti Ice Arena) to be transferred soon.

The goal, Cipollone said, is to consolidate three existing parcels – one owned by the City, one owned by Genesee County, and one owned by the Town of Batavia – into one property that can be offered to potential developers.

March 7, 2018 - 2:36pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Development Corporation, freshLAB, EDEN.

Update -- 5:50 p.m. with Judy Hysek's comments

The Batavia Development Corporation Board of Directors this morning approved a $30,000 grant/loan package for Judy Hysek’s EDEN vegan restaurant, the second start-up business at freshLAB in the former JJ Newberry building on Main Street in downtown Batavia.

“Judy’s very distinctly different concept, complete business plan, unwavering pledge to regional ingredient sourcing and commitment to start a restaurant earned her the freshLAB opportunity,” BDC Executive Director Julie Pacatte said.

The restaurant will be situated with Eli Fish Brewing Company, which was the first start-up as the anchor tenant.

The announcement was welcome news to Hysek, who went through a six-month process – starting with the first-ever freshLAB Foodie Challenge in September and followed by a five-month restaurant ownership Boot Camp taught by a variety of respected industry representatives.

“Julie had left me a voicemail saying I was selected and I think I started shaking a little when I was listening to it,” said Hysek, who noted that her husband, Chris, and she have been wanting to start something of their own for the past three or four years. “I’m honestly very honored to have been selected as all of the other contestants are very talented and hard-working.”

BDC officials will be approving a third business for the space, with an anticipated announcement in the coming weeks and opening expected in May.

Pacatte said that dozens of community volunteers participated throughout the process, which also involved more tastings, menu critiques and business plan evaluations.

“A local selection committee reviewed freshLAB expectations along with all related experiences, scoring, feedback and business plan presentations to determine that Judy’s EDEN vegan restaurant was a great fit for our freshLAB restaurant incubator,” she said.

Hysek said that she had been running a small nonprofit gift shop in Rochester for a few years and when they moved back to Batavia, they wanted to do something here.

“We took a small business class at GCC and met Barb Shine last year. She mentioned the freshLab back then and we thought it might be a possibility,” she said.

“Then a few months later we took a tour of the Harvester building and met Julie Pacatte, who also encouraged us to look into the Foodie Challenge for the freshLab space. So we gave it a shot, received some really great feedback and a ton of encouragement and support, and here we are.”

Hysek said the menu features “Not Dogs” made from marinated and grilled carrots that take on the taste of their toppings.

“It’s a much lighter alternative to a regular hot dog and these don’t leave you feeling bogged down,” she said. “My favorite toppings are spicy brown mustard and carmelized onions, but we’ll have a lot of other toppings for customers to choose from as well.”

She said other choices include “great tasting bar food” such as poutine, cauliflower wings and nachos, as well as house-made cheeses, weekly and seasonal specials, a couple of dessert choices, house made Kombucha, lemonades, and fresh pressed juices.

The entire menu is vegan (no animal products).

The tentative timeline for EDEN begins this month with the purchase of specialty equipment, BDC-sponsored training with Chef Tracy prior to opening and the café set-up, with tentative opening and ribbon cutting on April 22 (Earth Day).

Hysek said her family, including her husband, father and brother, are very supportive. She said she plans to be open noon to 9 p.m. every day except Tuesday to start and take it from there. Her goal, after 18 to 24 months at freshLAB, is to move into a more permanent space in Batavia and further expand the menu.

Eli Fish Brewing Company opened for business this week.

December 5, 2017 - 8:22pm

Batavia City Manager Jason Molino admits that a communication breakdown has resulted in the confusion surrounding a proposal to redevelop the Old Engine House on Main Street with help from a Restore New York Communities Initiative grant.

“Maybe we all could have done a better job communicating,” said Molino, speaking by telephone tonight.

Ever since Molino’s memo to City Council dated Nov. 22 – a report that apparently wasn’t read by all council members prior to their Nov. 27 meeting (Thanksgiving came in between) – there have been numerous public comments criticizing the process.

Some of those comments placed the blame on the city manager for “jumping the gun” and others questioned the selection of Thompson Builds of Byron and Churchville as the developer.

A public hearing on the proposal to renovate the former restaurant into a commercial/residential building and to apply for a $1 million Restore NY grant to help fund it was scheduled for Monday afternoon, but was abruptly cancelled after Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell said the County Legislature wasn’t ready to declare the property as “surplus.”

This, as would be expected, cast a negative light upon all parties involved, especially Molino for bringing the project to City Council.

“(Cancelling the public hearing) caught me by surprise,” Molino said, noting that Gsell told him that the legislature needed more time to review the plan.

Currently, the Engine House, which is owned by the county, is the home to public defender offices and a facilities management shop.

Molino said he was aware that the county had been looking to surplus the property for some time – “a couple years,” he said – and that Julie Pacatte, coordinator of the Batavia Development Corporation, had referred a couple investors to the county.

“I know that Jay had people looking at it as well; multiple people already looked at it,” Molino said.

Molino said that Pacatte came to him with news that Thompson Builds was interested in renovating the building to have a commercial venture on the first floor and apartments on the second floor – and that he was excited by the prospect of putting the property back on the tax rolls.

“That was a few weeks ago,” Molino said, after the City submitted a letter of intent to apply for the grant and was accepted – matters that weren’t communicated to City Council.

“I could have done a better job of advising Council,” Molino said, adding that he also should have received confirmation that the county was ready to relinquish the building.

As far as the procedure to dispose of surplus property is concerned, Molino said the county had several options, including an auction, request for proposal (RFP) or “appraised value and straight deal contract.”

He said the City’s role was simply as a “pass-through” since the county was not eligible to apply for the Restore NY grant.

Molino said he knew of two interested investors, including Thompson Builds, but said that it was Pacatte who “worked with Thompson to develop it a bit more.”

Pacatte could not be reached for comment tonight.

For the record, Thompson Builds has done work at Genesee County Building 2, VA Medical Center, Genesee County Airport and Liberty Pumps in Bergen, and did major work at the Big Tree Glen apartment complex on West Main Street Road.

When it was pointed out that Pacatte reports to him, Molino acknowledged that “maybe I should have been involved more.”

Despite the setback, Molino said he hopes that City Council would consider applying for the grant in 2018.

“We need to come together and gear up for next year,” he said, “by communicating with the county on the disposal of the property and with the investor. By getting everybody on board, we should be able to move forward.”

January 26, 2016 - 7:33am

dellapennasky2016.jpg

Two parcels of property that are part of the city's brownfield opportunity area are advancing in the redevelopment process.

The City Council approved resolutions Monday night that will make it possible for the Batavia Development Corp. to take over ownership in order to prepare the property for sale to a private developer.

The transfer is contingent on a successful tax foreclosure process.

Both properties, at 40-52 Ellicott St., the former Dellapenna property, and 56-70 Ellicott St., the former Santy Tire's location, along with other businesses, have been elligible for tax foreclosure for some time, but the city has let the properties sit in limbo to avoid becoming responsible for the expense of environmental cleanup.

City Manager Jason Moliono wouldn't confirm that property title transfer to BDC signals that Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacette has identified a specific private owner for redevelopment of the properties, but the resolutions passed by the council indicate a developer is waiting in the wings.

The resolutions both say, "the BDC has agreed to accept title to said property and work towards executing agreements with a preferred developer for redeveloment of the site consistent with the accept Brownfield Opportunity Area Step 2 Nomination Plan ..."

The BOA covers all of the city's central corridor and is 366 acres. It affords an opportunity to provide developers with assistance in revitalizing abandoned, blighted and underused properties.

The BDC has been working for years to establish the designation, identify properties for redevelopment and market those properties to potential developers.

There's no information available yet on who the developer might be, what is planned for the property, or when the next steps will be announced.

August 22, 2013 - 10:10am

A total of $450,000 from the state's NY Main Street Grant Program is starting to show results in Downtown Batavia.

The bulk of the funding -- $400,000 -- is being used to assist downtown property owners with interior and exterior renovations, including facades.

“You can see some of the facade renovations already being made to Alberty Drugs, YNGodess and Del Plato Law Firm and Williams Law Firm," Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte said. "They are all part of the Main Street Grant Program, in which the owners of the three properties are spending about $160,000 and they’re receiving about $57,000 in grants for the renovations."

Some of the projects that have been done involve new apartments and building improvements.

Two apartments were recently completed on Jackson Street, as well as one above Valle Jewelers.

Four new apartments will be built at the former Carr’s Warehouse on Jackson Square. Owner Ken Mistler has also committed to developing two apartments at 97 Main St. The Batavia Development Corporation recently approved sprinklers and HVAC units for them.

Of the remaining $50,000, the dumpster project on Center Street was given half for streetscape improvements, which would include rebuilding the trash bin enclosures and repaving the parking lot.

But the City Council has not voted on whether to proceed with the dumpster project, and since $25,000 of the grant money is already earmarked for it, Public Works will have to find another way to move it forward.

The remaining $25,000 is committed to splitting the administration office space of Stuart Brown Associates and Batavia Development Corp.

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