Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

bdc

June 25, 2020 - 1:07pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, NY Main Street Grant Program, bdc.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, bdc, city council.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, bdc, New York Main Street.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, GCEDC, bdc, chamber of commerce, BID.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, bdc, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, bdc, city council.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, bdc, Ellicott Station, savarino companies.

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, bdc, 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
posted by Lauren Leone in batavia, GO ART!, bdc, NYSCA, REDC, Seymour building, news, notify.

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.

March 26, 2019 - 11:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, batavia, news, notify, economic development.

img_4574bdcrach3.jpg

A change in federal tax law in 2017 could help attract Downstate investors to Upstate communities such as Batavia and the Batavia Development Corporation is planning on pursuing those dollars for economic development in wards three and six.

The new tax law allows investors who have realized profits from prior investments, known as capital gains, to defer and reduce capital gains taxes on those profits if they invest those gains in economically distressed neighborhoods.

Wards three and six -- which contain the City Centre mall and the Harvester Center, among other distressed properties -- were previously designated Opportunity Zones by the City of Batavia and would be eligible to attract investment under the terms of the revised Federal Tax Code.

Rachael Tabelski, BDC director, asked the City Council on Monday night to approve at its next business meeting a resolution that would allow the BDC to invest $20,000 in setting up a Batavia Opportunity Zone investment vehicle.  

"These wards are distressed and would benefit from both large and small investment projects," Tabelski said.

The goal is to attract $5 million in investment funds. Tabelski said there are already potential investors Downstate who have expressed an interest in such investments.

Urban Vantage LLC, a Buffalo-based urban planning firm, would assist, including financially, in setting up the investment package.

The $20,000 would come from BDC's revolving loan fund, which has a current balance of $319,000.

At its next business meeting, the City Council will also be asked to approve a resolution that would allow the revolving loan fund, first established with Federal grants in 1997, to start assisting small businesses in Batavia with cash grants (in addition to continuing revolving grants).

Tabelski told the council that the purpose of the fund is to get money into the hands of local businesses to help spur economic development and the fund isn't accomplishing that goal if the money isn't being put to use.

The $20,000 initial investment would be used for legal preparation of the investment vehicle, listing and marketing the project, along with filing and accounting fees.

"We're setting this up so we are on the map as a proactive community taking advantage of a new federal tax law that is allowing investment into low-income census tracks and to show investors and developers that we're serious about moving our sites forward and creating our own fund as a city," Tabelski said.

There's much about how the new investments will work that hasn't yet been determined by the Treasury Department. The final guidelines should be released in a few weeks.

In general, the idea is if an investor has capital gains, the investor can move those funds to an opportunity zone investment fund and defer any capital gains tax until 2026. After five years, the basis of their taxable gains would be reduced by 10 percent. For example, if an investor had $100,000 in capital gains and invested those gains in an opportunity zone, the investor would owe taxes only $90,000 of those gains. After 10 years, the basis would be reduced another 5 percent.

Also, after 10 years, the investor would not owe any taxes on any additional gains on their opportunity zone investments. In other words, if that investor put $100,000 into an opportunity zone and at the end of 10 years, exited the investment and got back $150,000, there would be no capital gains tax on that additional $50,000 realized from the investment.

"It's really designed to attract investment in projects that have a high likelihood of appreciation," said Richard Rogers, a principal in Urban Vantage.

Tabelski first met Rogers and his partner Travis Gordon during the Downtown Revitalization Initiative process, when they represented Ken Mistler on the Carrs Reborn project. They worked together on developing a plan to create the opportunity zones under the tax code revisions.

Tabelski and Gordon both said Batavia could be attractive to investors not just because of a break on capital gains tax but also because of other credits available, such as historic building tax credits, new market tax credits, and the availability of PILOTs (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) on building improvements.

"This is a marketable location for people from places like Downstate to put the money into to actually get a good return on their investment as well," Gordon said.

The BDC-initiated fund will focus on real estate investment but there's no reason private investors can't establish their own funds to support business startups and expansions. So long as the business is based in designated opportunity zones, investors would be eligible, potentially, for the same tax breaks on capital gains.

There are some guidelines yet to come yet, however, that will either expand or limit those opportunities. For example, initially, the tax code would have required at least 50 percent of a business's revenue to come from within the opportunity zone.

That would seriously limit, as Rogers noted, a new firm's ability to scale, which would make a much less attractive investment for venture capital.

Tabelski said there is already an investment fund established in Buffalo that might be interested in projects in Batavia.

Photo: Rachel Tabelski presenting the project to the City Council on Monday, accompanied by Richard Rogers and Travis Gordon.

oz_ct_9510.jpg

oz_ct_9506.jpg

February 20, 2019 - 9:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, batavia, downtown, business.

Press release:

The Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) Board of Directors reviewed the agency’s 2018 results and set goals for 2019 at their last board meeting.

In 2018 the BDC assisted eight projects that invested $3.5 million and pledged to create 38 new jobs. The JJ Newberry Building, award winner of the Robert Macon Award from the Community Design Center of Rochester, was the signature project opening its doors in February of 2018.

“The BDC is positioned to help small businesses and building owners in the City advance their projects,” said Pier Cipollone, president of the Batavia Development Corporation.

“We are also working to advance the Batavia Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) sites including Ellicott Station, Creek Park, City Centre, the Medical Corridor and the Harvester Campus.”

Other planning efforts guiding the BDC’s work include the recently updated Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Revitalization Investment (DRI) Strategy.

“The BOA, Comprehensive Plan and DRI Plan were created through a civic engagement model that allowed input and direction from the community to create a road map for land use and economic development in the City,” said Martin Moore, City of Batavia manager.

“The plans identify some of the most pressing issues in the City including blighted, contaminated and underutilized sites, housing issues and recommendations to reverse these trends.”

With the DRI award of $10 million the BDC plays a critical role in overseeing and advancing DRI projects. Currently the BDC is working with all of the DRI project owners and multiple state agencies to coordinate and assist projects.

The BDC successfully launched the $600,000 Batavia DRI Building Improvement Fund and is in the process of working with applicants before final selections are made.

“The momentum and excitement of the DRI has attracted new businesses and developers across the City,” said Rachael Tabelski, director of Economic Development for the BDC. “We will start to see scaffolding and construction starting in 2019.”

BDC Board approved 2019 goals:

  • Secure capital/business commitments of $5 million;
  • Secure business pledges to create 25 jobs;
  • Secure a micro-enterprise grant/loan program for the City of Batavia to foster new start-up businesses;
  • Achieve the BDC’s 2019-2020 budget;
  • Successfully administer and implement the Batavia DRI Building Improvement program;
  • Encourage, enable and incentivize downtown building owners to add new upper-floor apartments and new residential living in the City of Batavia;
  • Participate in the City’s environmental investigation and planning around the BOA Creek Park site;
  • Continue to enhance the BDC’s value and build strong relationships with the City of Batavia government, schools, businesses and residents, and other economic development organizations.
September 26, 2018 - 1:00pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, float tank, bdc, Rest & Revive Float Center.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rachael Tabelski will start her new job July 6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 7, 2018 - 2:36pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, bdc, 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.

February 22, 2018 - 11:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, batavia, news, notify.

During a budget workshop Wednesday night, the occasionally controversial Batavia Development Corp. received across the board support from members of the City Council.

Up for discussion was the $110,000 the city provides to the BDC to fund its operations, including paying the salary of Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte.

Councilman Al McGinnis opened the discussion suggesting that while it might be OK to fund BDC this year, he would like the funding reviewed next year.

By the end of the meeting, however, McGinnis backed off that request because he learned funding for BDC comes from the video slot machine proceeds paid to the city by Batavia Downs.

"As long as it's the VLT money, that's fine," McGinnis said after the meeting.

He said he doesn't have a problem with the BDC and likes the work Pacatte and the board of directors are doing. He would just like to see a more detailed, nuanced regular report from the BDC on its projects.

At that point, Councilwoman Kathy Briggs jumped in and said the BDC regularly emails council members about its projects.

As for residents who are sometimes critical of the BDC, she thinks more of them are excited to see what's coming, and once the two in-progress breweries open up, that will help validate the work of the BDC in the eyes of a lot of people.

"Once they start seeing something, they’re going to get excited," Briggs said. "They’ve been hearing it for so long and they ask when, but when they start seeing a little progress, they’re going to get excited."

Both during the meeting and after, Councilman Paul Viele said the money the City is providing the BDC is money that is being well spent.

"For the $110,000 that we’re giving them, we’re getting a bang for our buck," Viele said. "You see what the result is. It’s great for the city. Whatever we can do to help them, let’s move forward."

During the meeting, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian questioned why BDC's budget was $125,000 last year. Interim City Manager Matt Worth explained that $15,000 was added to the budget because of some anticipated environmental remediation. It turned out that work wasn't necessary, the money wasn't spent and it was moved back into the general fund.

Worth also provided a short history of the BDC, which dates back a couple of decades. At one time, Ed Flynn, now a consultant working on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative for the state, worked for the city handling economic development. The BDC received federal funds to establish a revolving loan fund. After Flynn's position was eliminated, the BDC board and the loan fund remained but with nobody to administer it. That led to some problems with collections on the loans. A coordinator's position was created both to help with the administration of BDC functions, but also to pursue economic development opportunities.

Since then, during Pacatte's tenure: several new market-rate apartments have been added to the downtown residential stock; the Carr's Warehouse has been converted into a mixed-use complex; a developer has been secured for the former Della Penna property and the Santy's Tires property; and soon the J.J. Newberry building will become the Eli Fish Brewing Company with the FreshLab restaurant incubator as part of the project.

Councilman Adam Tabelski expressed concern that talk of defunding the BDC could hamper the BDC's relationship with developers and other development partners, creating uncertainty about the BDC's continued operation.

"It perplexes me that this matter is even coming up as a topic," Tabelski said.

Christian asked about the BDC's contribution to the city winning the region's Downtown Revitalization Inititiviative contest, with its $10 million prize for economic development, and Council President Eugene Jankowski said that Pacatte assisted in the application process plus the fact that the city has the BDC, as well as the Batavia Business Improvement District, gave the city more points to help in its winning score.

The budget workshop started off with a discussion about funding a part-time staff position at the youth bureau. In the past, the position was filled by a member of AmeriCorps but the Federal government has eliminated AmeriCorps.  

The County's Youth Bureau Director Jocelyn Sikorski, who operates the city's youth bureau program as part of a shared services agreement, said the job is critical to the operation of the youth bureau. 

After a discussion about the importance of the programs the youth bureau provides to give children in the city, especially children from poorer homes, constructive activities and meals, the council voted to fund the position.

"We pay now or we pay later," McGinnis said. "And if we pay later, we pay dearly."

The council also addressed the topic of a spray park on the south side of the city. On Christian's request, with council support, Worth said staff will work up a report on the cost of the smallest possible spray park in Farrall Park, just to give council members of an idea of what it might cost, not that the spray park will be located there or be a park like the one in the report.

In today's dollars, the Austin Park spray park would cost $500,000.

Tabelski said Albion is building a small spray park for a couple hundred thousand dollars.

The current spray park uses about six million gallons of water each summer. To picture that much water, he said, imagine filling and emptying the water tower over by the VA Center four times.

The city buys that water at a wholesale price.

December 5, 2017 - 8:22pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, County Legislature, bdc, Old Engine House.

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 8, 2016 - 4:45pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Ellicott Station, bdc.

The Batavia Development Corp. and Buffalo developer Samuel Savarino received the news they have been waiting for today when the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council announced the release of $1.9 million in funding for the Ellicott Station project on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia.

“This is fantastic for Ellicott Station, phenomenal for the City of Batavia, but what is really great is that the governor (Andrew Cuomo) and the regional leaders believe that we can transform Batavia, and they’re ready to help us do that,” said Julie Pacatte, BDC coordinator.

The $1.9 million Consolidated Funding Application grant is the second-largest award of this round of funding in the Finger Lakes Region – surpassed only by the $2 million awarded to the Sibley’s project in Rochester.

Gov. Cuomo announced that more than $700 million in economic and community development funding was awarded today to the state’s 10 regional councils through Round VI of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

In the press release from the governor’s office, he said that “through the Regional Economic Development Councils, we have replaced the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to economic growth with a ‘ground-up’ strategy that focuses on cooperation and investing in regional assets to generate opportunity.

“By bringing together ideas from local government and community leaders with state resources, we are giving these councils the tools to create jobs and drive economic activity in their communities for generations to come.”

Rachael Tabelski, marketing director for the Genesee County Economic Development Center, applauded the news, adding that the support of FLREDC Co-Chairs Anne Kress and Danny Wegman gives the city a strategic edge.

“It’s a major, major project for downtown Batavia that is going to transform everything, and the backing of the regional co-chairs ensures that this project will happen, and happen on its full scale,” she said.

Other project awards coming to Genesee County include:

-- $150,000 to Sysco (Western NY Depot) to clear land and build a facility to house delivery management for distribution services;
-- $96,000 to Genesee County Chamber of Commerce (Haunted History Trail of NYS, 2017 initiatives) to conduct a conversion/economic impact study for the haunted history trail, the first and only statewide paranormal tourism trail in the United States;
-- $47,500 to Genesee County (Genesee County Housing Needs Assessment) to complete a housing needs study;
-- $50,000 to City of Batavia to complete a stormwater capital plan;
-- $25,000 to the City of Batavia (Downtown Batavia Healthy Living Campus) for a feasibility study for a comprehensive, multipurpose health campus downtown;
-- $12,500 to the Batavia Business Improvement District (Downtown Batavia Public Market Study) for an assessment and conceptual market master plan for sites in downtown Batavia.

Pacatte noted that the Healthy Living and Public Market grants are for areas within the Batavia Opportunity Area that her agency has been focusing on for redevelopment.

“Both initiatives are BOA-centric, and will improve the core – the civic center – of our county,” she said.

As far as Ellicott Station is concerned, three weeks ago Savarino provided an update to City Council, and specifically mentioned that the CFA grant that came through today along with a $500,000 Restore NY grant and new market tax credits were essential to making the project work.

Savarino’s plan is to convert the former Santy's Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna Construction sites a mixed-use, commercial/retail/residential complex.

The project is expected to cost around $17 million. 

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break