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June 21, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, bdc, batavia, notify.

tammy_seated.jpg

Seven days into her new job Tammy Hathaway was already full-speed ahead.

After all, the city resident and new director for Batavia Development Corporation has the passion, background, and curiosity to take the job and run with it, she says.

Her background includes working at Rural Opportunities (Pathstone) and being on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative planning committee and on the City Planning and Development Committee, so structuring a file or project for financing, grants, and combined loans mean just one question for her.

“How can I put it all together? Those puzzle pieces are comfortable for me,” Hathaway said during an interview with The Batavian. “But learning about the actual projects? Yeah, that's what I'm really super excited about.”

Just prior to her interview, Hathaway — formerly executive director of United Way of Genesee County — was pouring over files full of project notes. She counted in her head at least 14 ongoing projects that she will be diving into — Theatre 56, Jackson Square, the Healthy Living campus, and Ellicott Station, to name a few.

Her flowing locks and love for high- and well-heeled fashion belie someone whose cravings for detail include building structures, construction plans, and even the wastewater treatment plant. Staff was talking about using sonar equipment to measure the sludge, and “I was, like, I’m home,” she said.

She talked about how a local contractor had stopped in before the interview and showed her a compressed structural beam. She hadn’t seen anything like it before, she said and asked where she could buy some. The contractor was surprised.

“Yeah, and I go, ‘Oh, don't be fooled when you see me around town in my stiletto collection,’” she told him.

 Over at BDC, her focus will home in on Brownfield Opportunity Areas, a new category of sites for her.

“That's one of the things I'm very intrigued about. And that's the stuff that I want to know. I went up to a project earlier today that's already under construction, and it is about looking ahead to do a progress report. So to walk in and see, you know, new I-beam and structural stuff. You know, it's familiar to me. So it was just kind of going and taking photos and talking the talk,” she said. “But it's gonna be those other pieces that are like, ooh, this is new. This is what intrigues this switch in position. This job offers me so much that I want to know.”

For those who may know Hathaway, you’re also aware that she’s not shy to express herself. Admittedly, she has cursed a time or two while serving on a board and strives to be a nice, friendly person despite those inadvertent expletives. She agrees she's rather flamboyant “all day long,” and is fascinated by what makes people tick, she said.

“And just as I'm as inquisitive about people, I am as inquisitive about a lot of things, the mechanisms of how things work,” she said, explaining why she has served on up to six boards at a time. “So it's not that I can't say no, I don't like to say no because I want to know more, so when I'm already on five boards, and (Executive Director) Nate Varland comes to me at Leadership Genesee class and asks ‘would you like to be on the Board of Commissioners of the Batavia Housing Authority?’ Yes. Yes, I do. And he's like, are you serious?”

The 51-year-old’s job duties also include overseeing the agency’s grant and loan program. She doesn’t believe it’s as much about what a person wants to sell as it is about practicality: is that business a good financial investment? Does it fit into Batavia’s commercial landscape?

Her secret asset for determining who gets money? “I’m not emotionally attached to anything, except for Batavia. I want everyone to flourish,” she said. “The success in the city of Batavia depends on if they have a sustainable business plan.”

One of her “absolute best talents” is to surround herself with a solid network of friends. It’s that “amazing support system” that keeps her going, especially when dealing with the “hiccups” in life. She has at times posted thank-yous on Facebook for a gift, often her favorite snack, left on her porch.

“There are flowers and, mostly, Doritos,” she said.

The 2020 Geneseean of the Year recipient isn’t certain about why she’s been so drawn to construction-related topics. Her first husband got into construction, and she became more intrigued by listening to his discussions, and it grew after working for Rural Opportunities, writing rehab grants, reviewing bids for construction and becoming all the more curious with each step.

Another piece of it was her attitude as a woman in a traditionally male field:  “I don't want you to know more than I know about it,” she said. “You know, I get that you’re boys and stuff.”

So what does Hathaway think makes for a vibrant downtown? Her answer was swift: cultural options. And she believes Batavia is on the upswing for that, with a variety of culturally rich offerings through the Business Improvement District, at Jackson Square, Eli Fish, the Farmers Market, and GO ART!, she said.

It takes initiative, and her philosophy is a way to encourage that from the community.

“I’ve always tried to get people to believe that giving is contagious. If I do it, and it makes you see that I have fun doing it, then maybe you will want to do it, and we can really have fun to do it together. You know, so the more people that we get involved in doing the cultural stuff, that just makes us ask, why do we want to leave if there's things happening here all the time?” she said. “I do think the vibrancy of our little city is that culturally we want things to do. We have people who are committed to creating things to do. Sometimes it takes a few more hands down. The more people we get involved, the easier it is. And when we can create, you know, those businesses where we live here and work here, and now we can play here. I'm a Western New York girl, through and through.”

Photo: Tammy Hathaway, new director for Batavia Development Corporation, in her office at City Hall. Photo by Joanne Beck.

May 26, 2022 - 12:56pm
posted by Press Release in bdc, batavia, Tammy Hathaway, news.

Press release:

The Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) Board voted to hire Tammy Hathaway as the organization’s new director today at their May meeting.

Tammy has been well-known in the Batavia community as the Executive Director of the United Way of Genesee County. Her experiences in partnering with the City of Batavia including serving on the City’s Planning and Development Committee, currently is a member of the Batavia Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, previously was a member of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Committee and working with city management on the 485-r legislation exemption.

With a career history proficient in lending and grant administration, Tammy comes to the BDC with various skills to successfully collaborate with businesses to further the organization’s mission within the City of Batavia. She has a secure foothold in our community and has established strong core relationships throughout the City of Batavia and Genesee County.

“Tammy brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for our community that will help advance the BDC’s mission to improve the quality of life in the City of Batavia through a number of economic development collaborations, programs, and initiatives,” said Lori Aratari, President of the BDC.  “We are very excited to welcome her and look forward to her leadership.”

“On behalf of the city we are excited to work with Tammy in this new position and have confidence that as a city resident, she understands the needs of both the business community and residents alike,” said Rachael J. Tabelski, City of Batavia City Manager.  “Tammy will be coming to the organization with a list of projects to finalize from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and a 2020 Main Street Grant awarded to the City. She will also be responsible for promoting development at the City’s Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) sites and assisting businesses with loans and grants.”

March 21, 2022 - 2:02pm
posted by Press Release in bdc, batavia, news.

Press release:

The Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) will begin the process of seeking a new Director of Economic Development.

Brett Frank, the current BDC Director of Economic Development, has accepted a position with the City of Batavia, his last day with the BDC will be March 25th, 2022.

“On behalf of the board of directors of the Batavia Development Corporation we wish Brett the very best in his new endeavor,” said BDC President Lori Aratari.   

In the upcoming weeks the official employment posting and brochure will be listed on the BDC and City of Batavia’s websites.

August 26, 2021 - 3:58pm

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While there has been much activity in the City of Batavia, especially with Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Main Street Grant projects, the same can’t be said about the renovation of the former C.L. Carr department store at 101-107 Main St.

According to the “project tracking” chart generated by the Batavia Development Corp., a $1 million DRI award (of the $5.25 million total investment) was allocated to the Carr’s rehabilitation.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, at this morning’s Batavia Development Corp. board meeting, said building owner Ken Mistler has met with representatives of Urban Vantage of Buffalo, a consulting firm, as he seeks the best course of action to repurpose the space.

“I’ve had several meetings with Mr. Mistler and he would like to move the project forward,” Tabelski said. “The next steps are to see if they want to go after an historic designation for the building – whether it’s worth that and the tax credits – and assuring that they can get architecture, engineering and design on the building done because you can’t do construction until you get that done.”

She said her discussions with Mistler have focused on keeping the bottom floor as commercial space, with the possibility of multiple stores there, and turning the upper floors into residential space.

“We talked about potentially doing furnished corporate loft-type space for some of the companies we have here,” she said. “We’re always getting requests for furnished space.”

The building has one section with three floors and another with two floors.

Tabelski also mentioned the need for corporate rentals and boutique hotel space in Batavia.

“When they look at their return on investment, they’re not just going to look at residential, they’re going to see if some of these mixes could work there,” she offered, mentioning The Shirt Factory Café in Medina as a prime example of mixed-use success.

There, the first floor houses a coffee shop, hair stylist and mead works, while the second floor has an attorney’s office and boutique hotel room in the loft space, and the third floor features boutique hotel rooms.

“In a way, the business model could be very similar to Carr’s. A very different building, very historically-significant -- The Newell Shirt Factory in Medina – but the mix of tenancy could be a great example for them to look at and follow.”

She said some preliminary work was done on the Carr’s site before COVID-19 hit “and now they’re getting back to it.”

“It’s nice to see it get moving along because when looking at all of the projects, that is the one that needed to advance through the necessary stages,” she said.

Contacted this afternoon, Mistler said that he has not contracted with Urban Vantage at this point and any information on what the renovation ultimately will look like is speculation.

Photo by Mike Pettinella

August 26, 2021 - 8:50am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, bdc, Fieldstone Private Wealth, genesee county.

brett_frank.jpgUpdate at 11:30 p.m. from BDC:

"Brett brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in business and property development that will help advance the BDC’s mission to improve the quality of life in the City of Batavia through a number or economic development collaborations, programs and initiatives," said BDC President Lori Aratari. “We are excited to welcome him and look forward to his leadership.”

Brett has core competencies in government relations, public relations, communications, business and policy research, statistical analysis, and business intelligence.  His roles with Genesee County were numerous, including Real Property tax apportionment of County/Town, County/City, School and Village taxes, public relations and working directly with the GCEDC in the maintenance and generation of PILOT invoices.

He was responsible for disseminating information to engage property owners in complex residential and commercial valuation projects and acted as liaison to municipal, regional, and state government officials.

“On behalf of the City we are excited to work with Brett in this new position and have confidence that as a City resident he understands the needs of both the business community and residents alike,” said Rachael J. Tabelski, City of Batavia City Manager.  “Brett will be coming to the organization with a list of projects to finalize from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and a 2020 Main Street Grant awarded to the City.  He will also be responsible for promoting development at the City’s Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) sites and assisting businesses with loans and grants.”

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Directors of the Batavia Development Corp. this morning approved the hiring of Brett Frank as the agency’s executive director.

Frank (photo at right) fills the position that became vacant when Andrew Maguire accepted the operations manager post with the Town of Batavia in June. He will start on Aug. 30.

A client service specialist at Fieldstone Private Wealth in Batavia since September 2020, Frank was employed at Genesee County’s deputy director of Real Property Tax Services for five years prior to that.

“I think he will do a great job in that position. He’ll be a good fit for that,” said Kevin Andrews, the county’s director of Real Property Tax Services, Frank's immediate supervisor. “His background in real property, I think, will help him in that role.”

Andrews said Frank is outgoing – a people person – and won’t have any problem promoting the projects on behalf of the City of Batavia.

Previously, Frank, a city resident, was a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual and a Batavia City School District maintenance worker.

Frank, an Elba Central School graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in Financial Economics from Buffalo State College after receiving his associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Genesee Community College.

City Manager Rachel Tabelski said Frank's "great background in real estate" will go a long way in accomplishing the BDC's mission.

The position's salary is $70,000 plus benefits.

July 13, 2021 - 8:23am

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A frequent contributor to the Batavia City Council scene is suggesting that a package deal combining the current Batavia Police Department headquarters and Genesee County Jail parcels may be the ticket to attracting a potential developer in light of the city’s intention to build a new police station at Alva Place and Bank Street.

City resident John Roach, during the public comments portion of the board’s Conference Meeting on Monday night at the City Centre, asked if anyone was talking to Genesee County leaders about their plan for the jail at the corner of West Main Street and Porter Avenue.

The county is exploring its options as it faces a state mandate to build a new jail, with a site near County Building 2 on West Main Street Road as the proposed location.

“You might get a better deal as a combined parcel,” Roach said. “Find out what they’re going to do and it could have an impact on what to do with the Brisbane building.”

The Brisbane building that he referred to is the former Brisbane Mansion at 10 W. Main St. that sits next door to the county jail. That building -- which may be eligible for classification as a historic landmark -- has housed city police for many years but has deteriorated considerably.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, responding to Roach’s inquiry, said she thought it was a “great idea to speak with the county and understand their plans.”

“The front of the jail is certainly an amazing historic building that I hope would be preserved by the county through their transition, but I believe it hosts Genesee Justice and I don’t want to speak for the county and I’m not sure what they’re actually planning,” she said.

Tabelski also said she wasn’t sure if the timelines for a new county jail and new city police station would line up, but it was something worth looking into.

She pointed out the drawbacks with the Brisbane Mansion, notably that there is no American with Disabilities Act accessibility and there are problems with the layout that hinder the ability of the force to conduct day-to-day business.

“We went over the presentation two meetings ago and we looked at the timeline. The city has been wanting to address this for over 20 years,” she said. “We’ve come forward with a proposal and a feasibility study to use the parking lot at Alva and Bank Street.”

The city manager underscored the importance of finding a “reuse” for the building, adding that the city has no intention of moving staff into that structure.

“So, we’d like to pursue a path where we put it out for RFP to a developer to take that on and bring that on to the tax rolls,” she advised. “To do that in the best manner possible, you want to make your property attractive to the marketplace and by understanding all of the historical elements inside the building, and having technical assistance reports done of the structure itself and the historical elements …”

For those reasons, she forwarded a resolution – which was later passed by Council – to allow the Batavia Development Corp. to apply for a 2021 Consolidated Funding grant under the New York Main Street technical assistance program.

“I think it is City Council’s wish and I know it is the certainly the wish of many in our community to preserve that building as a historical element in our downtown,” she said. “… if (the grant is) awarded, we would go ahead and do that study. We had a plan to reuse the building at the time we move the police department.”

Tabelski said that the grant-funded study would uncover whether the building would qualify as a historic landmark.

If so, that could open the door for a NY Main Street grant, which the city has been successful in obtaining for the Eli Fish Brewing Co. building on Main Street and Theater 56 at the City Centre.

On another topic, Roach asked about the status of a road project to rehabilitate Harvester and Richmond avenues, which is scheduled for the summer of 2022.

Maintenance Supervisor Ray Tourt said it is currently in the design phase.

In May 2020, City Council appointed the engineering firm of T.Y. Lin International Group of Rochester to provide preliminary and advanced designs with the expectation that they would be completed by the summer of this year.

T.Y. Lin International Group was involved in the city’s Walnut Street Reconstruction Project, the Ellicott Street streetscape project and all of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District streetscape initiatives.

Batavian Robert Radley, PE, is the company’s senior vice president and U.S. East Region director.

Plans call for renovation of Richmond Avenue from State Street to Oak Street and for the entire length of Harvester Avenue (from East Main Street to Ellicott Street). City officials previously reported that 95 percent of the $2 million project will be covered by CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program) and Marchiselli Funding* streams.

Tabelski also reported that Jill Wiedrick, the new assistant city manager, will be starting on July 21, and the city is advertising for a permanent Department of Public Works director.

*Given the significant backlog of preservation, rehabilitation and replacement of transportation infrastructure needs that exist at the local level, NYSDOT has initiated a process with metropolitan planning areas and municipalities to revise and align local transportation planning and project selection processes with engineering and economic-based preservation strategies. As part of this initiative, NYSDOT will provide priority consideration for State matching funds, under the Marchiselli program, to federal-aid projects that embrace the Department’s asset management based preservation strategy. Municipally sponsored federal-aid projects considered to be beyond preservation treatments may be considered for Marchiselli funding on a case by case basis. Municipal requests for projects that are considered beyond preservation will be reviewed by NYSDOT’s Comprehensive Program Team (CPT).

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Photo at top: Batavia Police Department station (former Brisbane Mansion); Photo at bottom: Front of Genesee County Jail, which currently houses Genesee Justice.

June 25, 2021 - 12:08pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, bdc, Freed Maxick.

Calling it a “straightforward” audit, a certified public accountant with the Freed Maxick firm in Batavia reported that the Batavia Development Corp. experienced a 16-percent increase in its net position from March 31, 2020 to the same date this year.

At Thursday’s monthly BDC meeting at the City Centre Council Chambers, Nicole Ryan reviewed financial statements from fiscal years 2020 and 2021, giving the agency’s board a comparative look at its activity.

She said that since there was no new activity for Creek Park Batavia LLC, a BDC entity, her presentation focused on the BDC.

The BDC’s net position increased from $172,469 as of March 31, 2020, to $199,931 as of March 31, 2021 (about a 16-percent jump), while the operating revenues increased by about $5,000 from 2020 (from $114,964 to $119,769) and expenditures decreased about $3,000 (from $95,136 to $92,307).

“So, overall, year to year, there wasn’t a large change in the activity – as expected based on the type of year that was had …,” Ryan said. “There wasn’t an abundant amount of information that we had to go over; there was minimal grant activity that took place this year, compared to previous years. Overall, it was very straightforward and a rather quick audit. Very painless.”

Ryan found that the agency’s cash flow increase of only $31,358 from the prior year “again was due to the minimal grant activity that took place.”

Receivables for 2021 totaled $125,750 with $81,428 as part of the financial close of the Ellicott Station and $44,322 as part of the Building Improvement Fund, which will be reimbursed through New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

All told, Ryan said the audit identified no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies, “so I don’t have any exhibits for any type of filings that would have been communicated during the process.”

Andrew Maguire, BDC director of economic development, said that in April the agency was awarded a New York Main Street Grant of $417,000 for the Theater 56 project. That transaction will be reflected in the 2021-22 fiscal year financial statement, he noted.

June 16, 2021 - 8:54pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, town of batavia, bdc, Andrew Maguire.

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Update June 17, 10 a.m., press release from Batavia Development Corp.:

The Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) will begin the process of seeking a new director of economic development.

Andrew Maguire, the current BDC director of economic development, has accepted a position with the Town of Batavia, his last day with the BDC will be June 30th.

"On behalf of the board of directors of the Batavia Development Corporation, we wish Andrew the very best in his new endeavor,” said BDC President Lori Aratari.

In the upcoming weeks the official employment posting and brochure will be listed on the BDC and City of Batavia’s websites -- www.bataviadevelopmentcorp.org and www.batavianewyork.com.

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Update June 16, 9:10 p.m. with comments from Maguire:

"I'm excited for the new opportunity as I see a great future for the Town of Batavia, as well as the city, and believe that the duties of this job are right in my skill set," Maguire said. "When I saw that it was advertised on the town's website, I felt that with my experience, I was a great fit and that it would be a positive career move. The town definitely has a ton of potential."

Maguire said he was grateful for the chance to serve the city with the Batavia Development Corp.

"I'm still a city resident and want the best for both the city and the town," he said.

When asked about the Ellicott Station project, that has yet to see activity on the former Soccio & Della Penna site, Maguire said it is "still poised to close with the Homes & Community Renewal agency by June 30 and that demolition and site cleanup will be starting soon."

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Andrew Maguire is leaving the city -- sort of -- and heading for the town.

Batavia Town Supervisor Gregory Post tonight announced the appointment of Maguire to the position of operations manager with the Town of Batavia, following an affirmative vote by the Town Board at its monthly meeting.

Maguire (pictured above) has served as director of economic development for the Batavia Development Corp. since November 2019.

Post said he will begin his full-time duties with the town in July on a date to be determined.

Predicting that he will be “an asset to the region,” Post said the town is fortunate to have Maguire on board, especially considering his experience as the clerk-treasurer for the Village of Oakfield for more than five years, where he oversaw billing software integration, administration and budgeting of water and wastewater.

“In Oakfield, Andrew ran the water and sewer operations there,” Post said. “He’s familiar with our software, he’s familiar with our metering system and our power connectivity. He was instrumental in getting the Village of Oakfield parallel pathed with the town as they were expanding and upgrading their system.”

Maguire’s primary responsibilities will focus on management of water and wastewater billing, meter reading and budgeting, but he also will assist with capital project planning and management, procurement of goods and services and administrative support of other town functions.

“Plus, he gained much experience in financing and grants during his time with the BDC,” Post said. “He’s very well rounded and he seems like a very smart guy … and I was very pleased to accept his application this evening.”

The position is a “new title for a similar position that a couple of other people have filled in the past,” Post said. Maguire’s starting salary is $74,880, which represents about a $15,000 raise from his BDC salary.

Post said the town has been funding Maguire’s duties by using existing staff and indicated the job will not affect the town tax rate or water and sewer rates. He said it will be funded primarily from the water and sewer accounts.

“We have seen what Andrew has been able to deliver and his thorough knowledge of the Sensus Flexnet system, water meters, and billing software the town has deployed. His knowledge of governmental finances, capital project management, grant administration, community planning, and communication skills will be an asset to the Town’s growth and prosperity,” Post added. “All of these skills are critical to delivering results and helping our community grow and prosper.”

Maguire holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from St. John Fisher College with a concentration in Finance. He is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Genesee.

As a lifelong resident of Batavia, he has served as a volunteer on numerous boards, committees, charitable and civic organizations. He and his wife, Jamie, have a newborn child, Greta.

Post said it is imperative to have an experienced professional running the water and wastewater operation, which continues to increase.

“We’re looking at the administration of over 3,000 water/sewer customers that we’re now serving in nine communities that we contract with, and probably soon to be 12,” Post said. “It’s a large undertaking and we need the staff for the future if we’re to be sustainable. We’ve got good growth and a lot of irons in the fire, and I am thinking that he will be an asset to the region, not just the town.”

Maguire could not be reached for comment tonight.

File photo taken by Mike Pettinella.

May 27, 2021 - 3:59pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, bdc, VJ Gautieri Constructors, ellicott place.

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Directors of the Batavia Development Corporation this morning approved a revolving loan fund grant request of $18,800 from VJ Gautieri Constructors for sidewalk replacement at Ellicott Place.

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative project will result in 10 new market-rate apartments on the upper floor of the Save-A-Lot building at 45-47 Ellicott St., as well as the rehabilitation of 18,000 square feet of vacant commercial space.

“The Ellicott Place project, located in the Batavia Improvement District and the Route 63 redevelopment corridor, is a key DRI project in alignment with the City’s Comprehensive Plan,” said Andrew Maguire, BDC director of economic development. “We’re thrilled with the progress Mr. (Victor) Gautieri and his team have made and we all look forward to the economic impact that Ellicott Place delivers.”

In his application, Gautieri, the company president, said the grant will go toward replacing the private sidewalks that are adjacent to the building, indicating that an increase in the cost of materials has put the project over its budget.

Maguire reported that Gautieri’s commitment to replacing the sidewalks is an eligible use of grant funds that cover masonry repairs, façade improvement and storefront upgrades.

The $3.1 million project received $1.15 million from the state’s DRI award to the City of Batavia.

The capital investment for the sidewalk replacement is pegged at $47,000.

In other action, the board approved a resolution to apply for a National Grid Urban Center/Commercial Revitalization grant for up to $250,000 for the Jackson Square project.

Maguire said that funding could provide for furniture and more lighting elements in the public entertainment area located between Jackson and Center streets.

HEALTHY LIVING CAMPUS PRESENTATION

The board also heard a presentation from Rob Walker, chief executive officer of the GLOW YMCA; Daniel Ireland, president of United Memorial Medical Center, and David Ciurzynski, representative of the two entities, on the progress of the Healthy Living Campus on East Main Street.

The $30 million DRI project will combine services of both the YMCA and the hospital under one roof.

BDC Board President Lori Aratari said the video presentation “got everybody a little more excited to see a visual of what this transformational project is going to bring to Downtown Batavia and how far they have come.”

She said she was impressed with video of the proposed YMCA, mentioning the childcare area, walking track on the second floor overlooking Main Street, fitness area and aquatics center.

“It’s a bright and open area that will be a totally different Y than what we have today,” she said.

Ciurzynski said the venture is a big piece of many projects that will generate new business for the city and Genesee County.

 “This is all part of a plan that will stimulate the growth of our city. Not every single project is going to be the answer to everything, but when we start stitching them together we will have something really nice after a while,” he said.

He shed a bit more light on the timetable, starting with finalizing the design as a prerequisite to obtaining approvals from planning boards and other agencies.

“We have to do an approval for the hospital piece to the (New York State) Department of Health and we’ve got our permit reviews. Hopefully, sometime in September or October we will be able to get it out to contractors for bid,” he advised.

Ciurzynski said demolition of Cary Hall will precede regrading of the site and establishment of the building pad. Once the pad is down, crews will be able to work on the foundation and utilities.

“We really would like to get some of that work done over the winter so when springtime comes, we can hit the ground running and get the building up in the air,” he said.

He mentioned that the schedule could be altered depending upon the availability and shipping of materials -- a problem in the construction industry of late.

Aratari said she is looking forward to the day when the many projects taking place in the city are complete.

“The next couple years are really going to be amazing for Downtown Batavia,” she said. “Hopefully, these will bring the community to downtown as now we’re finally getting back out there.”

Photos: Top, The sidewalks around the Save-A-Lot store will be replaced as part of the Ellicott Place project; bottom, view of the west side of the building, which is being painted bright white. The outside of the second floor, which will have 10 apartments, also has been painted. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

May 19, 2021 - 4:53pm
posted by Press Release in Jackson Square, DRI project, downtown batavia, news, GCEDC, bdc, BID.

Submitted images and press release:

After public input and multiple stakeholder engagement sessions for the reconfiguration of Jackson Square, and with the preliminary design finished, the final design will now advance to full engineering, permitting and construction in the next few months. The project is expected to be completed next spring.

On Oct. 6, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight transformational projects for Downtown Batavia as part of $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Enhancing Jackson Square was one of the eight projects chosen to receive a strategic investment grant of $750,000 to transform public space in a public plaza. 

“The upgraded public plaza will become a lively hub and common space for community interaction, and provide connections to multiple businesses through its unique configuration," said Eugene Jankowski Jr., City of Batavia Council president and DRI cochair.

"As we continue to recover from the pandemic, I am happy to see the City complete this project and be able to offer citizens and visitors a unique experience in Downtown Batavia."

Jackson Square, a public gathering space bordered by historic buildings in the heart of Downtown, will be transformed with decorative pavement upgrades, a professional multipurpose stage, seating, lighting and decorative signage. 

“Jackson Square is a hidden gem in the City of Batavia, currently hosting lively concerts and urban events," said Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center and cochair of the Batavia DRI. "After the project is complete the Square will bring in more opportunities for the community to gather creating a downtown neighborhood."

Architectural Resources is the architectural firm selected to design the reconfiguration project, which is on schedule will go out to bid this winter.

“We received feedback from the residents, the Batavia Business Improvement District (BID), Batavia Development Corporation (BDC), adjoining building owners, and users of the square," said City Manager Rachael Tabelski. "The pavement and lighting elements will give a square a historical feel in a unique urban setting."

The concept integrates many historical layers of Batavia including the Great Bend -- changing the trajectory of the Tonawanda Creek, the Ancient Seneca Footpaths, and the history of “old” downtown Batavia.

“The BID was engaged throughout the entire process including selecting the design firm, reviewing and refining the project," said Beth Kemp, executive director of the BID. "The adjacent building owners were consulted, as well as the multiple users of the square to advance the project. Jackson Square will continue to drive community events and business to Downtown Batavia."

Input received at each of the two public meeting informed the design of Jackson Square. The design of the stage and canopy was revised based on suggestions that were made during the second public meeting.

“I am excited to have been a part of the design committee to advance this project on behalf of the City," said Andrew Maguire, executive director of the BDC. "The BDC intends to seek additional funding for the project by applying for a National Grid Urban Corridor Grant. That funding could provide for furniture and more lighting elements in the Square."

Enhancements of Jackson Square will continue to advance the City of Batavia’s efforts to create a lively and prosperous Downtown. It will provide a gathering space and performance venue for the community and open up new opportunities.

In combination with other DRI projects advancing in the City, Batavia continues to find, new ways revitalize existing buildings and spaces.

April 22, 2021 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, bdc, batavia, Business.

Buffalo developer Sam Savarino, who has been working for years to close financing on Ellicott Station (former Soccio & Della Penna and Santy's Tire properties), met via Zoom this morning with the Batavia Development Corp. Board of Directors and gave the members an update on the progress of the project, which should start with site cleanup soon.

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.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, bdc, Ellicott Station, freshLAB.

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.”

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