If not for a flooded basement many years ago, today’s grand opening of Ellicott Place and City View Residences at 45 Ellicott St. likely would have never taken place.
For a look at the apartments, click on the link at the bottom of this story.
Speaking to a gathering of about 40 people in front of the entrance to the second-floor apartments above the Save-A-Lot store, Vito Gautieri, founder and chairman of VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., recalled circumstances that took place not long after the completion of the building in 1968.
“We built this building … owned it with the bank,” Gautieri said. “Montgomery Ward had a 25-year lease when we got done with this. What you see upstairs – the second floor – that was not supposed to be there.”
Then, he pointed to a car parked to the west, in an area toward the front of Batavia Tailors & Cleaners, which his company built and his late brother, Vin, owned for many years.
“That (location of the Montgomery Ward storage and warehouse) was supposed to be in the cellar (of this building). All of a sudden we came back after the weekend (and it was) like a pool – full of water,” he said. “We had pumps going for hours and days, and nothing.”
Gautieri said an engineer was called to inspect the damage.
“He comes over. We had to stop construction. In a week’s time, they had the second floor up,” he continued “That’s why this project … From the day one that I got this project, I knew we were going to do something with that on the second floor.”
After noting that his son, Victor, had thanked all those associated with the completion of one of the City of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative ventures, he said, “That without the help from New York State, this would never had been possible.”
Indeed, Victor Gautieri, company president, moments before did thank the people and agencies that contributed to the construction of 10 apartments on the second floor along with the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements. It is a $3.1 million project, supported by $1.15 million in DRI funding.
“VJ Gautieri Constructors with the help of governmental agencies, professionals, contractors, skilled workers and the like have given new life to an aging building,” Victor Gautieri said. “It wasn’t an easy task. We started the project in the middle of a pandemic, which created a lot of obstacles. Supply chain issues and cost increases forced us to re-evaluate nearly every aspect of the project on a daily basis.”
He pointed out that his team “was up to the task – upgrading and modernizing nearly aspect of the property as well as creating 10 well-appointed, elevator-serviced apartments that are filling the downtown Batavia housing need.”
“We currently have eight of those apartments rented and the other two will be rented very shortly.”
Victor Gautieri’s “thank you” list started with his father, “who through his forward thinking many years ago had a vision of the building’s transformation (drawing a round of applause).”
“Next is David Rowley, project manager, through his dedication, expertise and problem-solving that we were able to make it to the finish line,” he said.
He also commended Dan Seeler of Seeler Contracting, Inc., of Holley, and Lenora Page, owner, Flower City Monitor Services, for their efforts, as well as his wife, Julie, and sister, Valerie, for assisting with the interior décor and rental process, respectively; Mark Dean of Dean Architects, and Frank Cipriano of Upstate National Bank.
Victor Gautieri thanked the City of Batavia for “an excellent job” preparing the DRI grant application, to the Genesee County Economic Development Center for providing "much needed: financial assistance, and John Hedlund, owner of Save-A-Lot for his “continued commitment to downtown Batavia,” noting that Hedlund just renewed a long-term lease.
Other speakers included Assemblyman Steven Hawley, Senator Edward Rath, City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. and Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein. Batavia Development Corp. Director Brett Frank facilitated the proceedings.
“All you have to really do is look around, behind you and to your left and right, and this is downtown Batavia. And we’re here to talk about revitalization – not just for businesses but for great living, affordable apartments that the Gautieris have worked long and hard to see come to fruition.
“Affordable housing is extremely important for businesses to be able to survive and succeed, and today’s open house is going to be a step in the right direction. If you’re looking for clothing or (prescription) drugs or insurance or banks, there are lots of places to choose from. And the folks who live here and other places in downtown Batavia will be the benefactors of living right here in the beautiful City of Batavia.”
Noting that eight of the 10 residences are already rented, he said, “That goes to show you that is already a destination right here in the City of Batavia.”
“This is the hub of economic activity and investment that is happening right here in the great City of Batavia. (On a tour of the city with City Manager Rachael Tabelski), he was able “to hear first-hand the vision and the strategy and the approach to bringing the City of Batavia further along in the 21st Century."
“This is a tremendous investment for this community. This is where you want to have people living and working and spending their time and recreation is right here in the City of Batavia.”
Rath said he serves on the Cities II Committee in the State Senate.
“There used to be just one Cities Committee and you can all guess where all the attention was paid for the Cities Committee in New York State. It was New York City. That’s all they did was prioritize policies and legislation to benefit New York City.
“This year, we brought about the Cities II Committee to focus on and prioritize all of the other cities across New York State. We are going to carry the issues, needs and concerns of all of our upstate cities back to Albany to create policies, procedures and regulations that are city-friendly outside of … New York City.”
City Council President Jankowski:
“It’s no secret that this building needed to be repurposed for many years, and it’s going to have a serious positive economic impact on our community. But not only that, it’s going to create 10 homes for people that can live downtown and enjoy the benefits of living downtown. The fact that eight apartments are already rented so quickly is a sign that we need more of these type of apartments in our community.”
Mentioning that he lives on the city’s southside, he acknowledged Victor Gautieri’s perseverance through the COVID-19 pandemic, and said, “I’m proud to go by everyday and I smile when I see the transformation that took place.”
Legislature Chair Stein:
Thanking the Gautieri family, she drew a round of applause when saying that “family business today is important in Genesee County and we honor you and your work today.”
She also thanked the DRI committee members for their hard work and “the constant conversations that you had to ensure that these projects would make it through and actually get through to completion. Your work is most incredible and you saw the future that is here today.”
“For the rest of us, the City View (Residences) is an absolutely wonderful name because there will be sunrises and there will be sunsets that people have in their homes – and homes that people didn’t have before. They are our workforce. These are the folks that are putting down roots in Batavia and congratulations to all of them.”
Photo at top: Taking part in the ribbon cutting at City View Residences are, from left, Vito Gautieri, David Rowley, Victor Gautieri, Senator Edward Rath, Assemblyman Steven Hawley, Lenora Page and Eugene Jankowski Jr. Photos at bottom: Vito and Victor Gautieri as Rath and Jankowski look on; Rath at the podium. Photos by Mike Pettinella.
Previously: A first look: City View Residences (aka Ellicott Place) on the second floor of Save-A-Lot building