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January 3, 2021 - 1:59pm
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in nostalgia, batavia, news, history, urban renewal, downtown, main street.

I always have been a follower of Hallmark movies due to their storyline's simplicity and happy endings. What I think that most intrigued me was when the main characters always seemed to go home to save a part of their town, from historic buildings to Main streets.

These stories always take me back to our Downtown. I've written many articles about urban renewal, its history, why it happened, and how it happened.

But it never illustrates the sadness we endured or the memories we cherish.

Watching a Hallmark movie with its predictable ending always makes me think about going home or being home in Batavia.

Many of these movies take me back to the '60s and the daily ritual of walking home from Notre Dame High School. As my best friend and I would cross Union Street to Main Street, our first stop would always be the Red Barn for a little snack. The next stop would be Oliver's for Molly Pops.

It was a simple time, but the memories of walking down Main Street are as vivid today as they were in the '60s.

The big red brick square building on the corner of Court Street and Main Street always intrigued me.

I knew it must have been a hotel, and standing on our tiptoes, looking at the dusty lobby always made me curious about that building.

Many years later, as I was researching the hotel, I returned to that window scene imprinted in my mind, imagining people dancing and eating in that beautiful Richmond Hotel, named after the famous Dean Richmond family.

I think some of my favorite memories were shopping. I love the clothes of the '60s. Favorite places to shop were Alexander’s Clothing Store and C.L. Carr's department store. It was always so much fun to go into the stores and look at the newest styles.

Being a Notre Dame student, we had to wear the ugliest uniforms.

What were they thinking by having the girls wear a bolero? So, the idea of getting new clothes was a big deal.

 Alexander's on the north side of Main Street had a section in the store called The Barn. It was like walking into a teenager’s fashion dream, showcasing all the newest styles.

When I was a freshman, there was a dance called the Christmas Dance, and I remember buying my dress from The Barn.

It was pink, and since this was my first dance (I was 14), and my dad being a dad, he made me add a big black velvet bow to the neckline of the dress. I always thought that was funny since I weighed about 93 pounds.

I also remember in my senior year buying my formal for our senior prom at Alexander's.

I can't forget my other favorite store on the south side of Main Street, C. L. Carr. It was like entering into many little departments that, together, created a building where you could buy almost anything.

I loved their clothes. Somehow, there was a deal with my parents, or I should say with my mom, that I could take home clothes on approval.

That was always exciting because I could pick out my favorite clothes and take them home and show my mom, and hopefully, I could keep one or two of them.

My mother would say, "Don't show your father today; wait a few days, and the day your father asks 'When did you get that new outfit?' you can say, 'Oh, I’ve had it awhile, Dad.' ”

Since we had to wear such attractive uniforms one year, the store sold mohair sweaters that we could thankfully wear over our school uniform. I didn't care that I was allergic to wool. I would wear that sweater, so did my best friend, Cathy. I think she might've had a blue sweater and I had a pink one. I loved that sweater.

I have so many memories of that fantastic store in which you could buy a particular card, vacuum cleaner, a rug, sewing supplies, pots and pans, and have gifts wrapped all year long.

I can remember buying my wedding gown in 1974 with my mom, another memory I will cherish.

It was the way the sales clerk treated you with such kindness and respect that left such a remarkable impression. I picked out our everyday dishes and "good china” at Carr’s.

They also had a travel agency kiosk called Travelore on their first floor where we bought our honeymoon tickets. You really could find everything in that store. 

Years later, I had my first child and couldn't wait to buy baby clothes.

I also would buy gifts for other friends and relatives, and somehow the sales clerks at the store knew if that new baby had already received the gift I had picked out.

When our daughter was in high school, she was one of the Christmas wrappers in the store's basement.  

With their fake snow and predictable storylines, Hallmark movies take me back to my hometown to remember what it was like before it was taken away.

The one thing the wrecking ball couldn't take away are the treasured memories of my hometown Main Street.

PHOTOS:

1) (Top) Demolition of Downtown Batavia in the name of urban renewal, courtesy of Genesee County History Department;

2) Red brick building -- Hotel Richmond, courtesy of the Holland Land Office Museum;

3) Hotel Richmond lobby, coustesy of the Genesee County History Department;

4) Notre Dame High School class photo of girls wearing boleros, from a ND yearbook;

5) Anne Marie Peca in her Senior Prom formal from Alexander's clothing store, courtesy of Anne Marie Starowitz;

6) Anne Marie Peca wedding photo, courtesy of Anne Marie Starowitz;

7) C. L. Carr store drawing, Pat Burr;

​8) (Bottom) Main Street Downtown Batavia, courtesy of the Holland Land Office Museum.

October 20, 2020 - 7:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, news, downtown.

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Legacy Insurance Group held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting today at the company's new office at 212 E. Main St., Batavia.

Legacy Insurance will be a local resource for Medicare Advantage plans through UnitedHealthcare, as well as several life insurance options, and can help with navigating health insurance choices on the NYS of Health Marketplace. 

Agent Diana M. Wagner resides in Stafford with her husband, Ron, and two of her three children, Bobby and Rachel.

In the photo, Wagner cuts the ribbon surrounded by friends and family along with Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, and Ken Sciarrino, from United Healthcare (holding ribbon on right).

October 18, 2020 - 6:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in JC Penney, downtown, batavia, news.

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JC Penney in Batavia closed its doors for the last time at 5 p.m. today. One potential shopper found she got there a little late for the last day of the store's going-out-of-business sale.

October 17, 2020 - 9:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ellicott place, downtown, dri, batavia, video.
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Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was on hand Friday for an event commemorating the commencement of construction of another Downtown Revitalization Project, Ellicott Place.

Ellicott Place is converting the building that is currently home for Save-A-Lot and expanding it with retail and apartments. The V.J. Gautieri Construction Company is investing more than $1.5 million in the project with a portion of the city's $10 million state grant, the DRI award, covering the rest of the $3 million project.

October 3, 2020 - 6:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in downtown, BID, business, batavia.

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Local businesses and community groups, as part of a project hosted by the Batavia Improvement District, have decorated Downtown with their Halloween scarecrows.

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September 30, 2020 - 10:33pm
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Press release from the Governor's Office:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of construction for a $1.1 million redevelopment project in the City of Batavia. This project, awarded through Batavia’s DRI Building Improvement Fund, will rehabilitate a three-story, 7,500-square-foot building built in 1865, in Downtown Batavia. Batavia’s downtown area is a mixed-use, affordable neighborhood with access to jobs, anchor businesses, and city and county services.

“The Downtown Revitalization Initiative in Batavia is driving strategic investments and helping bring new mixed-use development to the area to benefit the entire region,” Governor Cuomo said. "This historic building will be preserved to continue with Batavia's rich history and character and will be the propeller of future growth not only for Batavia but for the entire region.”

“Our Downtown Revitalization Initiative is transforming communities statewide by empowering local stakeholders to put forward their best ideas on economic development based on collaboration and shared purpose,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

“Batavia is uniquely positioned between two major urban areas but has carved out its own identity with projects like 99 Main Street. These projects will attract new people with a new life, energy, and sense of pride, and help New York build back better for a post-pandemic future.”​

The renovation and redevelopment of this historic building will include a new storefront, façade, and reconstruction of the existing three floors. A dental practice will operate on the first floor with the second floor being developed for commercial office space. The third floor will include two two-bedroom market-rate apartments.

The redevelopment of this historic building is part of the DRI award for the Building Improvement Fund, which provided the city with the resources to award building improvement projects Downtown. The award from the Fund is $137,600 with a total estimated project cost of $1,165,000. The Fund is operated locally by the Batavia Development Corporation and administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center also supported the redevelopment through mortgage and sales tax incentives of $63,500. Neppalli Holdings LLC will also invest nearly $1 million to renovate the building as part of the public-private partnerships for DRI.

Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “The Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is becoming a reality and it will bring a new look and way of life for residents to live, work and play in their business district. The Building Improvement Fund award provides an opportunity for economic investments in Batavia through the redevelopment of its business district, attracting a new generation of social and commercial enterprises to the city. This project is a testament that hard work and dedication, even in these unprecedented times, can yield progress and a bright future.”

NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Through Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we are working directly with communities across the state to implement targeted economic development projects like this one that expand housing opportunities, enhance the downtown streetscape, and create a more lively and walkable commercial district.

"Batavia’s Building Improvement Fund will utilize $138,000 in DRI funds to transform this historic property at 99 Main Street into a beautiful mixed-use building with new office space and two apartments on the third floor. By supporting local efforts to strategically improve downtown districts with state resources, we are breathing new life into Batavia, the Finger Lakes Region, and beyond.”

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer said, “I am very happy that Batavia was chosen for this project. Investing in our Upstate communities is extremely important and this funding will help further the growth and redevelopment we have seen in Batavia.”

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said, “Thanks to smart and expansive developments, Batavia will grow into an even greater destination and hub for Western New York than ever before. From the addition of a new performing arts center to the revitalization and renovation of a commercial hub to the continued development and upgrading of Downtown, Batavia is poised to be a bastion of community and comfort for the area. This investment will go a long way towards the continued fostering of community and cooperation for years to come.”

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said, “The DRI award is critically important in our efforts to revitalize Downtown Batavia. It’s vital that we continue working with our partners at the state and local level to continue the momentum of the private and public sector investment in the county’s urban core.”

Batavia Development Corporation Board President Lori Aratari said, “The Building Improvement Fund created through the DRI provides grant funding for applicants to implement interior and exterior building improvements in Batavia’s Business Improvement District (BID) for commercial and mixed-use structures. This project exemplifies how we are using this fund to fill vacant and under-utilized structures in the city.”

Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein said, “The Genesee County Legislature recognizes the importance of the economic vitality of the City of Batavia for our county and region. I am especially pleased to see all levels of government working so closely in our efforts to bring private sector investment to the city.”

Genesee County Economic Development Center President and CEO Steve Hyde said, “To have so much support from so many leaders in the community gives me confidence that our project will be a great success and I hope will encourage others in the private sector to seek investment opportunities in Batavia. I want to thank all of our government partners for their continued support and collaboration in our collective efforts to encourage private sector leaders such as Dr. Neppalli to invest in Batavia.”

Batavia was named a DRI Round 2 winner. The downtown area is a mixed-use, affordable neighborhood with access to jobs, anchor businesses, and city and county services. The area has an excellent foundation upon which to continue its revitalization, including amenities such as recreational sites, healthcare facilities, food markets, a library, and various retail and restaurant venues in a walkable environment.

The Strategic Investment Plan for Downtown Batavia is working closely with private partners and local assets to implement the other eight projects awarded. These projects alongside all of the projects that will be awarded through the DRI Building Improvement Fund will create opportunities for economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are ready for implementation.

The Downtown Batavia Strategic Investment Plan is guiding the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that advance the community's vision for its Downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment.

September 23, 2020 - 6:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, mall, batavia, downtown, video.
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Consultant Ed Flynn led a City Centre Feasibility Study open house last night, which was an opportunity for community members to weigh in on the future of the mall.

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September 9, 2020 - 10:58am
posted by Press Release in batavia, downtown, business, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors approved incentives for a building renovation project in the City of Batavia at its Sept. 3 board meeting. 

Neppalli Holdings LLC will invest approximately $1.165 million to renovate a three-story building at 99 Main St. in Downtown Batavia. The renovation and redevelopment of the 7,500-square-foot building, which was built in 1865, includes a new storefront, façade, and reconstruction of the existing three floors.

A dental practice will reside on the first floor with the second floor being developed for commercial office space. The third floor will include two two-bedroom market-rate apartments.

Neppalli Holdings LLC is the latest transformational building renovation project to proceed in Downtown Batavia through Governor Cuomo’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The project will be receiving sales and mortgage tax benefits totaling $63,500.

September 1, 2020 - 9:42am

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Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider final approval for a building renovation project in the City of Batavia at its Sept. 3 board meeting. 

Neppalli Holdings LLC is proposing to invest approximately $1.165 million to renovate a three-story building at 99 Main St. in Downtown Batavia. The renovation and redevelopment of the 7,500-square-foot building, which was built in 1865, would include a new storefront, façade and reconstruction of the existing three floors.

A dental practice will occupy the first floor with the second floor being developed for commercial office space. The third floor will include a pair of two-bedroom market-rate apartments.

Neppalli Holdings LLC is the latest transformational building renovation project to proceed in Downtown Batavia through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The project is requesting sales and mortgage tax benefits totaling $63,500.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. this Thursday. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the meeting will be conducted via conference and online at www.gcedc.com.

June 7, 2020 - 2:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in March for Justice, batavia, downtown, news.

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More photos from today's March for Justice in Batavia by Philip Casper.

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June 6, 2020 - 8:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Main St. Pizza Company, batavia, downtown, business.

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Vic Marchese, owner of Main St. Pizza Company on East Main Street, Batavia, works on a "Black Lives Matter" sign on boards he had placed over a large window on the outside of his restaurant.

Marchese said he doesn't believe anybody locally would harm his business and he doubts agitators from outside our community will come to Batavia for tomorrow's protest, but the window he covered was custom made for his shop and was very expensive. He thought it best to be prepared if there is trouble following the protest.

Main St. Pizza is one of about a dozen businesses in Batavia that decided to board up their windows and doors for Sunday.

The protest gathering begins at City Hall at 8 a.m. The march from City Hall to the Batavia PD headquarters is scheduled for 11 a.m.

June 5, 2020 - 5:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in public market, downtown, batavia, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

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It was a perfect summer day for the opening of the Downtown Public Market in Batavia. Of course, rules were in place requiring masks and social distancing.

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May 2, 2020 - 7:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dinosaurs, downtown, batavia, news.

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Our local family of dinosaurs reappeared in Downtown Batavia today, this time with a little one in tow.

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April 25, 2020 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, news.

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A reader tipped us to a trio of dinosaurs marauding through Downtown Batavia. We hunted them down and shot them (with a camera) while they were passing by St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church.

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February 23, 2020 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in FeBREWary, downtown, batavia, news.

It was a lot of fun shooting video of FeBREWary last night and I was looking forward to editing the footage this afternoon.

When I got home last night, I put the SD card in my computer and imported the hockey video footage. When that was done, I forgot to import FeBREWary.  

Normally, I don't take SD cards out of the computer and put them right in the camera for the next project. I rotate through them in order to diminish the chance of deleting something I'm not ready to delete. But that isn't what I did this morning -- running late to cover something, I grabbed the SD card I saw first -- the one in the computer. I didn't realize my mistake until I was ready to edit the FeBREWary video.

I was disappointed. My apologies to anybody who was looking forward to being included in the video and to the BID and Downtown businesses.

February 5, 2020 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, ellicott place, batavia, downtown, dri, GCEDC, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider accepting applications for assistance from two Batavia Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) strategic projects at the GCEDC’s Feb. 6 board meeting.

Together, the Ellicott Station and Ellicott Place projects are proposing 65 new apartments that support Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy for housing to support the growth of Genesee County’s businesses and communities.

Ellicott Station is a $22.5 million mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project by Savarino Companies that includes adaptive reuse and new construction on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia. This blighted property is a key gateway entrance to Downtown Batavia, and the project would create 20 additional jobs to Downtown Batavia’s business community.

Considerable brownfield remediation, site improvements, and construction are proposed, including a five-story apartment building with 55 new modern workforce housing units, along with a brewery, restaurant/beer garden, and preparation for additional development at the 3.31-acre site.

Ellicott Station is requesting approximately $3.6 million in economic incentives, with a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption. Revenues from the project will also contribute to the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity brownfield redevelopment fund.

Ellicott Place is a $3.1 million redevelopment of 45-47 Ellicott St. by V.J. Gautieri Constructors that includes the creation of and access to residential and commercial spaces in Downtown Batavia.

The project will construct 10 second-floor apartments at the existing facility, along with the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements. The redevelopment of Ellicott Place is estimated to create nine additional jobs to Downtown Batavia’s business community.

Ellicott Place is requesting approximately $130,000 in economic incentives, with a $110,400 sales tax exemption and a $20,000 mortgage tax exemption.

Ellicott Station and Ellicott Place were among eight transformational investments announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as enabling the Batavia DRI’s strategy to drive new, mixed-use development, improved access to local healthcare, and transform public spaces for community use.

Since both the projects are requesting more than $100,000 in incentives, public hearings will be scheduled for comment and feedback to the requests.

November 30, 2019 - 6:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Shop Local, Small business Saturday, downtown, batavia, news.

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For Small Business Saturday, Iris Bodine, 8, went shopping with her aunt Margie Everett at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle.

We didn't get a chance to visit local businesses until the afternoon, but several business owners said their shops were full in the morning and that it seems like more people seemed to be out shopping local on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving than previous years.

Dave Howe, Charles Men's Shop, said at least a half-dozen people mentioned the annual Shop Local promotion is what motivated them to visit local businesses today.  

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Stephen Valle and Carrie Lawrence, Valle Jewelers. 

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Chris Crocker and Leslie Moma, The Yngodess Shop.

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Don Brown and Dave Howe, Charles Men's Shop.

November 22, 2019 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ken's Charcoal Pits, batavia, downtown, business, notify.

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The owner of Bourbon & Burger Co. and The Coffee Press, Derek Geib, has acquired Ken's Charcoal Pits from local businessman Ken Mistler.

"Essentially, Kenny was just at the point where he wanted to sell and I was at the point where it made sense," Geib said.

What attracted Geib to the property was its location and its unique amenities, such as a first-class downstairs banquet facility, a brick pizza oven, an outdoor, all-season patio, and the walk-in food counter at the front of the building.

"Kenny's put a ridiculous amount of money and time into this location," Geib said. "It's got access on Main Street and from the parking lot, beautiful downstairs banquet space, the outdoor patio, which is unlike any other in Batavia. I mean, he's got one-of-kind pizza, the charcoal pit that's in the front. There was just there's so much potential in this space and in Kenny's put it in a position to be very successful."

Mistler purchased the building a few months after the former South Beach Restaurant closed its doors suddenly in 2009. He operated the restaurant as South Beach for a short time and then changed the name to City Slickers. About a year ago, he changed the name to Ken's Charcoal Pits.

Geib isn't ready to announce the new name of the restaurant and said that while the main restaurant menu will change, the pizza and charcoal pits will remain the same.

"We'd like to have this all done early next year, which is very aggressive," Geib said.

Mistler owns several other downtown properties, including the former Genesee Bank building at Jackson and Main and the former Carr's building. We couldn't reach him late this afternoon for comment but Geib said Mistler will still be around. He's offered to continue to help with the business and he enjoys cooking pizza.

Previously:

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October 31, 2019 - 11:22am

Press release:

O’Lacy’s Irish Pub & Eli Fish Brewing Company have worked together and created a custom-made beer, hoping to show the public and business community that its not always about competing, but when you work together, both businesses can benefit!

On Tuesday, Nov. 5th , 5-9 p.m., O’Lacy’s Irish Pub will be hosting a kick-off party for the new hazelnut porter that has been custom made for O’Lacy’s Irish Pub by Eli Fish Brewing Company.

The collaboration was inspired as Kent Ewell (owner, O’Lacy’s), Chris Hoffman (bartender at O’Lacy’s) and Matt Gray (wwner, Eli Fish) were discussing the large amount of draft beer that O’Lacy’s sells.

“We should make you your own custom brew,” Gray said. “You pick the type (lager, ale etc.) and flavor if you wish and we can make it."    

After reviewing what was currently on tap at O’Lacy’s, Ewell chose a hazelnut porter, which is named appropriately, “Old Sod Hazelnut Porter.”

After sampling the test batch, Ewell said, “I think this is very unique and something people will enjoy.” 

At Tuesday's kick-off party, pints will be on special for $3.50. Come on out and try the new “Old Sod Hazelnut Porte,r” which pairs perfectly with O’Lacy’s Reuben sandwich and famous homemade chips and dip.

October 6, 2019 - 10:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, downtown, BID, batavia, wine walk.
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