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City View Residences

March 9, 2022 - 10:16am

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The transformation of the Save-A-Lot grocery store building at 45-47 Liberty St. took another significant step forward on Tuesday when the executive director of the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc., signed a long-term lease for 7,630 square feet of commercial office space on the ground floor.

“We’ve outgrown our space at our current location (in the former Kozak plant on South Lyon Street), so it seemed like a good opportunity to start looking around,” said Gretchen Gonzalez, an attorney who directs the Buffalo-based program. “We were looking at some other spots, but it's very difficult to find the size that we needed in Batavia. So, finding this space with Victor (Gautieri) was great and to be able to break it up to what we need.”

Gonzalez and Gautieri, president of VJ Gautieri Constructors, building owner and developer, agreed to terms and signed the contract yesterday afternoon at the VJ Gautieri office on Liberty Street.

Gavin McKeirnan Townsend, licensed real estate salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA on Jackson Street, also attended.

“Obviously, piggybacking on the beautiful apartments upstairs and knowing that we had about 16,000 square feet available of commercial space downstairs, we definitely wanted to leverage that and keep the momentum going,” said Townsend, who brought the two parties together. “It’s great to have prime commercial space here in the city of Batavia with sort of the resurgence of everything that's happening in downtown.”

Last fall, VJ Gautieri completed a $3.1 million project supported by $1.15 million in New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding that resulted in the City View Residences -- 10 upscale apartments on the second floor of the building -- along with first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements.

With VLP’s signing, VJ Gautieri now has about 8,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor available for leasing.

Gautieri said offices of the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, known as VLP, will be located in the southwest portion of the building.

“They’re not taking the storefront. They’ll be able to walk out there – we’re going to create a new entry for them – and look almost directly at Batavia Tailors,” he said. “We will be doing the lease build-out – creating the space and dividing it to set up their offices.”

He noted that DEAN Architects of Depew, the firm that designed City View Residences, has been hired to configure the space for VLP’s 23 offices.

“We did an in-house version of a few things just to get the ball rolling, but the architect is going to play off of that and say, ‘Okay, here's what you need,’” Gautieri said. “He's going to also meld all the code requirements in to make sure everything is good. We have to construct the restrooms, entry lobby, reception area and then all the individual offices for the folks who will be working there.”

Gonzalez talked about VLP’s mission and the importance of a presence in Batavia.

“Our initial office is in Buffalo, and we've had a secondary office in Batavia for a number of years,” she said. “We started off with renting space for one office for one attorney – a paralegal that was out here all of the time – and then in 2016, we leased more space there and we now we have around 15 attorneys and five paralegals and two social workers.”

She said VLP is a “hybrid legal services organization” that has attorneys on staff plus a bank of nearly 500 lawyers in private practice that volunteer their time and provide expertise at no cost to clients.

“VLP is the largest provider of indigent immigration services outside of New York City in the State of New York,” she said. “Our Batavia office houses part of our immigration program. It's funded by a grant from the New York State Office of New Americans to provide a public defender-style representative representation to anyone who's detained (and facing deportation) at the federal detention facility (in Batavia).”

While the immigration piece is key to work in Batavia, it’s just a part of what VLP does, Gonzalez noted.

“I always like to say that we do anything under the sun except for criminal law. Because in Buffalo, we have housing attorneys, we have family law attorneys, we do divorces, end of life planning, wills, power of attorney, healthcare proxy,” she said.

“We have a low income taxpayer program that helps people who have cases and controversy with the IRS. We have a program that's specifically designed to serve people who are HIV positive. And we have another portion of our immigration program in Buffalo that provides services to people who are not detained and mostly provide services to victims of human trafficking and domestic violence and other sorts of crimes.”

Gonzalez, who has been with VLP for 10 years, said about 20 full-time employees will be working out of the new Batavia office, and will be supported by attorneys at other locations who volunteer their time.

Gautieri said he is keeping another 1,000 square feet in reserve just in case VLP needs to expand in the future. He said the anticipated move-in date for VLP is Aug. 1.

CLICK HERE for more information about the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc.

Photo at top: Gretchen Gonzalez, center, signs a contract to lease more than 7,500 square feet of office space at 45-47 Ellicott St., site of Save-A-Lot and the City View Residences, as Victor Gautieri, president of VJ Constructors, and Gavin McKeirnan Townsend of HUNT Real Estate ERA, look on. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Ribbon cutting marks completion of City View Residences revitalization project in downtown Batavia

September 29, 2021 - 4:47pm

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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.

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For a look at the apartments, click on the link at the bottom of this story.

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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.

Assemblyman Hawley:

“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.”

Senator Rath:

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.”

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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

August 20, 2021 - 10:11am

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A week away from cementing their place as the first tenants of the new City View Residence, Jonathan Bates said the two-bedroom apartment above Save-A-Lot on Ellicott Street provides everything that he and his brother, Jake, desire at this point in their lives.

The Oakfield-Alabama Central School graduates – Jonathan is 27 and Jake is 26 – signed a one-year lease with VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc. and are scheduled to move into their new home on Aug. 28.

Jonathan Bates (pictured above), in an interview with The Batavian on Thursday, expressed his pleasure with being the first to rent one of the 10 units that were constructed as part of the City of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Award initiative.

They will be living in one of the three two-bedroom apartments; the others have one bedroom.

“It’s cool to be a part of the revitalization of Batavia. This project is kind of the culmination of all the efforts that have taken place so far, and it’s exciting to be part of that,” he said. “Family members saw pictures of it (on The Batavian), and when they did, they said, ‘Jon and Jake, this is right up your alley. You’ve got to check this place out.’”

Bates said the monthly rent for the market rate apartment is well worth it, considering the modern and varied furnishing, and the access to downtown businesses.

“You go up there and each space, each unit has a unique view of the city, the downtown life,” he offered. “You take a look around where we are and we’ve got gyms, restaurants, banks – everything within walking distance. And a (grocery) store right down here on the first floor. It’s worth every penny.”

The brothers work for the same company in the construction management field.

“Being in the industry, I know exactly what VJ Gautieri has been going through to open this place up, and all the challenges in the industry right now with getting material and labor shortages due to COVID. But they have done a fantastic job getting this thing done on schedule,” Bates said.

He said they were put in contact with Victor Gautieri, president of VJ Gautieri Constructors, and, after receiving a tour, signed on the dotted line.

“We were sold immediately,” he noted.

When asked if he sees himself as a millennial, part of a group born from 1981-1996 that is said to be enthralled with city living, Bates said he didn’t pay much attention to categories.

“To be honest with you, I don’t even know what I’d be considered,” he replied.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY IN HAND

Gautieri reported that City of Batavia Code Enforcement Officer Ron Panek issued the facility’s certificate of occupancy last week.

“Mr. Panek did a complete inspection of the facility, and we also had to provide several documents, including an elevator inspection certificate, fire alarm system certificate, sprinkler system certificate and an electrical certificate showing that the wiring was inspected by a third-party,” Gautieri said.

He said Panek did a “complete walk-through,” as did Batavia Fire Department officers to familiarize themselves with the facility.

The certificate of occupancy came about a year after Gautieri secured the additional financing needed to complete the $3.1 million project.

Gautieri said he is in the process of reviewing applications and scheduling tours for those who are interested in learning more about the apartments. For more information, contact the VJ Gautieri Constructors’ office at 585-343-0852.

Previously: A first look: City View Residences (aka Ellicott Place) on the second floor of Save-A-Lot building

July 22, 2021 - 5:09pm

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The Ellicott Place project, one of several redevelopment ventures supported by the City of Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, is about 10 days away from completion, according to the head of the company that owns the Save-A-Lot building at 45 Ellicott St.

“We’re 98.5 percent done,” said Victor Gautieri, president of VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., who, this morning, gave The Batavian the first look at some of the 10 market-rate apartments being built on the second floor.

City View Residences, the housing portion of the project’s official name, consists of seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units featuring nine-foot ceilings, stainless steel appliances (including a dishwasher and microwave oven), upgraded fixtures and trim, and plenty of closet space.

The apartments, which vary in size from 900 to 1,200 square feet, also come with a 10-foot by 6-foot outside deck that is secured by protective guardrails measuring 42 inches high. Each unit has its own laundry room with washer and dryer, and heating and air conditioning system, both tucked away in a small room with a door on it.

Gautieri (pictured above) said that transforming the building into more than a supermarket was a goal of his father, Vito, the company founder.

“It was his thought from initially purchasing the building that we’d be able to redevelop the second floor and put some commercial space up there, but that never materialized,” Victor Gautieri said. “Then, when we were approved for the DRI grant (covering $1.15 million of the total project cost of $3.1 million), that allowed us to put the apartments in.”

Realizing the need for quality housing in Batavia and Genesee County, Gautieri said he and his father “looked at it as a company” and figured that apartments on the second floor would be a viable option.

“We were able to get the (DRI) grant and then the financing to do the second-floor apartments, and from there, we did a complete ‘reno’ on the exterior of the building and now we’re creating a vanilla box in the remaining commercial space,” he added.

Gautieri said the apartments will rent for $1,325 to $1,575 per month, plus utilities (cable television is available). The apartments were designed by Dean Architects PLLC, of Depew, in conjunction with VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc.

“We have a waiting list and we’re going through the applications,” he said. “It looks like we will be in good shape on the apartments in short order.”

Another neat feature of the apartments is an electric door at the main entrance (on the north side of the building), with each tenant receiving a key fob that unlatches the door for entry. Each apartment has a video monitor on the wall near the door.

“Tenants will be able to see who’s at the front door and allow them to come in without having to walk down the stairs to unlock the main entrance door,” Gautieri said, noting that security cameras have been installed in all the public areas.

As far as commercial space, he said that 16,000 square feet is available, and can be divided depending upon the requirements of businesses that show interest in the property. Currently, it is being used as a production area during construction.

“Like the saying goes, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ As we started to redevelop and modernize the property, it spawned more interest from the business community,” he said.

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The wall leading to the elevator and stairs on the first-floor foyer, crafted from wood taken from the building's exterior.

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Stairs leading to the 10 apartments.Technicians are nearly finished with wiring of the elevator, Gautieri said.

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Modern kitchen area with stainless steel appliances.

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Flooring in one of the bedrooms. The color scheme is a darker shade of blue and light gray.

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Enclosed laundry room.

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Every apartment has a full bathroom and either a half- or three-quarter bath.

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View from the deck of one of the units, looking west. Genesee County Building 1 is in the background.

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"Door bell" monitor system that allows the tenant to see who is at the main entrance downstairs.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

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