This last week of May was capped off with bountiful news for property owner Ken Mistler and downtown Batavia as a whole with the announcement that the Carr’s Reborn project on Main Street was granted $1.85 million in Downtown Revitalization funding.
While recently discussing Mistler’s other major renovation in progress at the former Showtime movie theater in City Centre, The Batavian asked him about the Carr’s project, which has been on hold for several months.
He said that would move forward as soon as he gets word about funding.
Mistler was unavailable for further comments Monday afternoon.
Carr’s Reborn has involved several key players in the community, including a committee of folks serving on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative effort, city and county leaders, engineers, the property owner, residents and business owners, all of whom have been anxiously awaiting to see development in the former Carr’s department store for at least the last five years.
Consultant David Ciurzynski previously described the site’s future: renovating the upper two floors for apartments, installing arched windows in the front overlooking Main Street, preparing the lower levels for commercial space by removing asbestos and making them more enticing for prospective businesses to invest in the site.
Ciurzynski also included a vision for the project, aptly titled Carr's Reborn.
“We can restore the former landmark to its former glory,” he said during the DRI Committee’s Sept. 13 meeting.
The project received approval from both the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Committee and City Council in September 2022. No one had spoken during a related public hearing about council's application to pursue a $2 million grant.
Cities with a population of less than 40,000 can apply for up to $2 million, and it is available for projects to “demolish/deconstruct and/or rehabilitate/reconstruct vacant, abandoned, surplus and/or condemned residential, commercial and/or mixed-use buildings.”
With no opposition to the move, City Council voted to submit an application for the sixth round of the Restore NY Communities Initiative Municipal Grant Program.
The former Carr’s site is expected to accommodate several upper-floor apartments and business/office use on the ground floor.
The project would take $1.85 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant funding and $4 million from property owner Ken Mistler. Possible uses for the main floor have not been determined, and it’s about “what does downtown Batavia need?” Ciurzynski had said during the committee’s Sept. 13 meeting.
Committee members who approved the project and pursued the DRI grant included City Council President Eugene Jankowski, Steve Hyde, Dr. James Sunser, Craig Yunker, Tammy Hathaway, Erik Fix, Tom Turnbull, Susie Ott, Paul Battaglia, Marty Macdonald and Nathan Varland.
On Monday, state Gov. Kathy Hochul announced more than $112.9 million has been awarded to 70 projects through the Restore New York Communities Initiative. Restore New York supports municipal revitalization efforts across the state, helping to remove blight, reinvigorate downtowns and generate economic opportunity in communities statewide, according to a press release issued from the governor’s office.
The program, administered by Empire State Development, is designed to help local governments revitalize their communities and encourage commercial investment, improve the local housing stock, put properties back on the tax rolls and increase the local tax base, the release states.
"These Restore New York grants will help to reimagine downtowns across our state and transform vacant, blighted and underutilized buildings into vibrant community anchors," Hochul said in the release. "Thanks to a more than $146 million state investment, we are breathing new life into communities from Hudson to North Hempstead, jumpstarting new economic activity and helping ensure that New York State continues to be a place where people come to live, work and raise their families."
Carr's Reborn was the only project in Genesee County to receive funding from this round.