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Downtown Revitalization Initiative

October 21, 2020 - 12:16pm

The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night approved a special use permit that opens the door for the creation of two apartments on the second floor of the Main Street Pizza building at 206 E. Main St.

Applicant Paul Marchese, doing business as Just Chez Realty LLC, said the $489,000 project – which qualified for a Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant of $137,600 from the Batavia Development Corporation’s building improvement fund – advances to the next stage, which is “to finalize the engineering drawings and move the project into the construction phase.”

Marchese said planning committee members asked whether he is looking to renovate the other half of the upstairs as well.

“The plans for the other half of the upstairs have not been solidified as of yet,” he said. “At this point, we have acquired funding and grant sources and various things to complete phase one of our project. Phase two could be apartments or it could be something totally different depending on if we have a tenant that wants a specific build-out for up there.”

Concerning apartment rental rates, Marchese said that since the project was awarded one of the grants, it is bound by a predetermined rent schedule.

As previously reported on The Batavian, Marchese’s application calls for placing two apartments on the second floor and altering the building’s exterior by adding an entrance door on the south side, replacing windows, changing the nameplate on the north (front) of the building from MANCUSO to MARCHESE, and installing “up lighting” on that side.

Additional improvements include removing existing awnings and exposing the original transom windows, installing a new aluminum-clad wooden door on the north side and installing new aluminum-clad wood windows/door storefront in the center bay.

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 26, 2020 - 11:15am

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While V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc. is focused on completing as much exterior work as possible before the snow flies, Save-A-Lot management is overseeing an upgrade to the interior of the store at 45-47 Ellicott St.

Such is the current status of the Ellicott Place project, a $2.3 million renovation of the supermarket that will include 10 market rate apartments on the second floor.

Victor Gautieri, project developer, on Friday said that crews have created a new entry vestibule, with placement moved to the east along the north wall, facing the Court Street Plaza parking lot.

“That allows us room to construct our entrance to the elevator that accesses the second-floor apartments,” he said.

Gautieri said that Save-A-Lot is closed for “some pretty extensive remodeling on the inside of the store.” He believes the store has set a reopening date of Oct. 2.

“(They’re) painting and decorating as well as a lot of mechanical upgrades – coolers and freezers and systems of that nature for their operation,” he said.

The interior enhancements are part of Save-A-Lot's effort to upgrade its branding, Gautieri said.

“They’ve rolled out a different look – reorganizing how the groceries are stocked and the flow of traffic within the stores,” he said. “New signs will be going up as well as a different kind of a logo that will be in place as soon as we are finished completing the work on the front canopy.”

Gautieri said he is hoping to have all construction done by the end of April, weather permitting.

The project, part of the City of Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, will feature seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor, and includes the development of 18,000 square feet of first-floor commercial/retail space.

Other improvements include a two-stop interior elevator, two stairwells, new exterior windows, doors, veneers and roof membrane.

The Save-A-Lot grocery store occupies around half of the ground floor.

Gautieri said his company plans to “roll out some advertising on the apartments by the end of the year,” with the goal of getting some preopening leasing in place.

“We’ve been receiving phone calls, wondering what the status of the project is and what the apartments will be like,” he said. “We want to try to get ahead of the curve and get things ready to go as soon as construction is done and we’ve got a certificate of occupancy in hand.”

Ellicott Place and the Ellicott Station mixed-use redevelopment venture across the street will provide a much-needed boost for that section of the city, Gautieri said.

“It’s going to be good for – we’ll call it the Southside, which has lacked any real new projects or anything of that nature,” he said.

Photo: View of the location of a new entry vestibule (boarded up), which will provide access to the elevator leading to second-floor apartments upon completion of the Ellicott Place project at the Save-A-Lot grocery store on Ellicott Street. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Planning boards to consider Ellicott Place residential/commercial venture special use permits

September 16, 2020 - 10:34pm

The New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency has approved an award of $5,691,573 for Ellicott Station, a mixed-use brownfield development project to be built on the site of the former Soccio & Della Penna construction company and Santy’s Tire Sales on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia.

Minutes from a July 14th teleconference meeting of HCR’s Housing Trust Fund Corporation, a subsidiary public benefit corporation of the NYS Housing Finance Agency, reveal that Savarino Companies of Buffalo, project developer, was one of 19 initiatives receiving assistance.

The minutes also indicate that the committee members "hereby provide that this authorization will lapse after 360 days if a closing on all sources of construction financing sufficient to complete the project has not occurred."

The plan for Ellicott Station, with a price tag of $22.5 million, is to construct a five-story apartment building with 55 new, modern workforce housing units, as well as a brewery, restaurant/beer garden and potential further development on 3.31 acres. It is expected to create 20 jobs in the city’s downtown area.

The venture has received funding ($425,000) from Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and has been approved for $3.6 million in tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

In December 2016, the project was awarded a $1.9 million Consolidated Application Grant through the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council. It was introduced to the public by Batavia Development Corporation officials at a press conference nine months earlier.

A telephone call and text message to Chief Executive Officer Samuel Savarino have yet to be returned.

Batavia's Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski said that Savarino Companies have paid all of the building permit fees to the city, a sign that activity could be underway in the near future.

According to its website, the HTFC’s mission is to further community development through the construction, development, revitalization and preservation of low-income housing, the development and preservation of businesses, the creation of job opportunities, and the development of public infrastructures and facilities.

Financing resources include agency-issued tax-exempt, taxable, and 501(c)(3) bonds, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and subsidy loans.

The HTFC also authorized a $4 million award to Home Leasing LLC of Rochester for its Liberty Square project, a 55-unit, four-story apartment building that is under construction on a parcel of land that had been the site of homes at 552, 554 and 556 E. Main St., Batavia.

Twenty-eight of the apartments will be set aside for homeless veterans with the remainder designated as affordable for lower-income residents.

The total cost of that development is expected to exceed $12 million.

September 16, 2020 - 1:36pm

Press release:

The first open house to introduce the City Centre Revitalization Strategy project will be held within the City Centre concourse at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Those in attendance will be provided with information on the project, given an opportunity to meet the project team, and review project related information.

The Revitalization Strategy will focus on strategic improvements that can made to the concourse and entries of the City Centre structure as well as potential development concepts for underutilized areas of the parking lots around City Centre.

Potential improvements to the City Centre concourse would be partially funded with the $1 million award provided by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative program. Initial concepts for new entryways and upgrades to improve the appearance of the concourse will be available for review at the Open House.

In addition to providing information on potential concourse improvements, the Open House will also provide early conceptual plans for developing underutilized portions of the parking lots along Bank Street. Corresponding concepts for streetscape upgrades for Bank Street will also be available at the meeting.

Protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be implemented for the meeting.

September 12, 2020 - 8:39am

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The performers are patiently waiting in the wings as, slowly but surely, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project known as Main Street 56 Theater moves forward.

Project Manager David Ciurzynski of Ciurzynski Consulting LLC, of Attica, on Friday said the preliminary design work has been delayed by the coronavirus but, if everything breaks right, the theater will be able to open its doors to the public next summer.

“We’re trying to finalize the design that got held up a bit because of the COVID-19 requirements – (as we’re) looking to design it in a way that is flexible for social distancing,” Ciurzynski said. “And we’re also still looking for people for financing – to solidify that.”

He said the demolition work is almost done.

“The area is pretty cleared out, and ready to build,” he said, noting that the 11,000-square-foot facility will feature a dance studio, theater that seats 150, offices and storage rooms.

It will be located at 35 City Centre -- in space formerly used by the Dent Neurological Clinic office, between Genesee Dental and The Insurance Center.

Ciurzynski said that Batavia Players, the not-for-profit organization operating the theater, has hired Thompson Builds of Churchville as the general contractor. Thompson Builds has done extensive work in Genesee County, including construction of a new Town of Batavia firehall off Clinton Street that is happening now.

“We’re going to start, hopefully, in a couple months on the dance studio and then the theater after that,” Ciurzynski said. “We are waiting on some of our first reimbursements from the DRI for the work that we’ve done so far – we have to wait for the Department of State on that. But, hopefully, in the next month or so, we’ll be able to get some money from the state so we can keep things moving.”

He said the timetable has “the meat” of construction taking place in late winter and early spring.

“We’re trying to get through all of the pandemic requirements and making sure we have space for social distancing, and it’s a kind of reimburse-as-you go-along with the Department of State,” he offered.

The project is one of several awarded to the City of Batavia as part of the state’s $10 million DRI.

Since the total project cost is estimated at $910,000 and the DRI award for the theater is $701,750, fundraising will come into play, Ciurzynski said.

“Batavia Players will have to raise the difference, and will have to rely on the community to help them with that,” Ciurzynski said, advising that various fundraising efforts are underway.

Patrick Burk, president of Batavia Players, said the troupe is in the process of closing down its current location at the Batavia Industrial Center on Harvester Avenue.

“We will be reopening a new office and bringing in a bunch of new volunteers to assist state and local government officials on the project,” he said.

Batavia Development Corporation Director Andrew Maguire said the theater project aligns with the city’s “All In” effort which, in part, focuses on fostering arts and entertainment and cultural appreciation Downtown.

Renderings provided by David Ciurzynski, Ciurzynski Consulting LLC.

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.

July 30, 2020 - 10:39am

Batavia Development Corporation board members this morning sounded off about the lack of security and activity at the former Soccio & Della Penna/Santy’s Tire Sales property on Ellicott Street that has been designated as the site of the proposed Ellicott Station mixed-use redevelopment project.

Initially announced to the public in March 2016, Ellicott Station is a $22 million project of the Savarino Cos., of Buffalo, headed by CEO Samuel J. Savarino. Plans call for mitigation of the three acres in the City’s Brownfield Opportunity Area, followed by construction of a 55-unit apartment complex, restaurant, beer garden and brewery.

The venture has received funding ($425,000) from Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and also has been approved for $3.6 million in tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

At today’s BDC meeting via Zoom, Board Member Pier Cipollone reported that the site is not secure and safe while fellow Board Member Steve Pies questioned why at least “one little thing” hasn’t been done to improve or clean up the property.

“I was driving by the Ellicott Station property and I noticed that the gate -- it looked like someone had knocked it through, and there were five young kids at the back of the building, the garage building,” Cipollone said. “One appeared to be trying to jimmy a window and a bunch of others were throwing stones at the top of the building.”

Cipollone said he called police, but did so “more from the position of the … building might fall on them, more than the damage to the building.”

He asked Andrew Maguire, director of economic development, to contact Savarino to secure the property.

“It’s not a safe site right now, especially for kids,” Maguire said. “The last thing we want is somebody to get hurt over there, (and) that’s why it should be closed up and secured properly.”

Maguire said he will contact Courtney Cox, project manager for Savarino Cos., and ask him to fix the gate and make sure it is locked to keep people out.

Pies said Batavia residents deserve to see some activity on the site, considering that more than four years have passed.

“So, obviously we have a new biking trail now (Ellicott Trail), which is awesome, in our community, which literally goes right by that building. I think it’s safe to say we’re in many overtimes right now with this project,” Pies said. “I never want to sound naïve because I know it’s a marathon, not a sprint; I know they all wait for the money and I know COVID and everything else, but if I’m not mistaken, Sam has verbally said, ‘This is my property and am fully committed. I still have to wait for the money, but I am still going forward regardless.’ ”

Pies said all he is looking for is a reason for people to feel confident that the project is still in the works.

“We’re asking for some little things that would go such a long way in this community – like freshening up something or doing one little thing,” he said. “And the fact that he doesn’t seem to do one little thing, when he’s completely, verbally supposedly committed and invested fully, I think at this point, it’s so questionable. Is that a fair statement, in your opinion?”

Maguire said it was a “fair statement” and promised to set up a meeting with Cox.

“Typically, in the development world you don’t see a lot of action until financing is secured,” Maguire said. “Regardless, could we see some action? I hope so.”

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski said her staff is taking a close look at some of the agreements with Savarino, including documentation concerning an easement for the storm sewer – or grand canal – that runs under the property.

“(That’s) one of the other things that makes the development even more challenging – even more challenging than developing in a flood zone, and we just had that document updated and executed,” she said. “In terms of engagement, when we do need something and we want to work with them, (we expect that) they’re there and willing to work with us. We’re getting that on file.”

She also said the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on grant announcements. Savarino has been waiting to hear about his application for funding through the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal.

“Whatever is happening with grant programs and HCR, specifically, which is the one they’re waiting on, COVID has put us behind any type of announcements like that,” Tabelski advised. “We’re all kind of in this together waiting.”

Maguire said progress is being made despite no actual construction.

“Obviously, we don’t see dozers out there and now, after hearing what Pier had to say, apparently the fence needs to be relocked,” he said. “I will reach out to Courtney and maybe schedule a meeting next week and we can sit down and dive into this a little bit further to see what their plans are, their projections and time frames, what they’ve done, what they need. They are committed to this project.”

Cipollone left the board with a “reminder” that Savarino assured the City Planning & Development Committee after receiving planning approvals that he would secure the buildings.

“He also gave me a verbal commitment as we were walking out of the building – ‘I will board up the windows, I will start demolition on the garage,’ ” he said. “And that’s the first thing he has to do because it is physically sitting on two separate pieces of property – on the property line.”

July 8, 2020 - 11:55am

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Ellicott Place, a $2.3 million renovation of the Save-A-Lot supermarket building at 45-47 Ellicott St., has reached the local planning board phase – a juncture that sets the stage for the owner of the facility to begin construction this summer.

“Once the special use permits have been approved, which are allowable as part of the BID (Business Improvement District), the final step will be the issuance of building permits,” Victor Gautieri, president of V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc., said today. “From there, we would be looking at a mid-August, possibly late-August start.”

The Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night is expected to issue a recommendation on the company’s special use permit site plan and downtown design review application to create 10 apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor of the building.

The board has set its Zoom videoconferencing meeting for 7 o’clock.

V.J. Gautieri’s application then goes to the City Planning & Development Committee’s meeting on July 21, when it will rule on a special use permit to support a restricted residential use of the structure, which is located within the Central Commercial District.

Restricted residential uses are permitted in the C-3 district with the issuance of a special use permit.

The project is one of several in the City to be partially funded by the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The $1.15 million DRI award covers half of the total cost.

Gautieri said the plan is to construct seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom market-rate apartments upstairs and further develop 18,000 square feet of first floor commercial/retail space.

Currently, the Save-A-Lot grocery store occupies around half of the ground floor, and future commercial/retail tenants on the first floor are anticipated.

Other improvements include a two-stop interior elevator, two stairwells, new exterior windows, doors, veneers and roof membrane.

“A separate entrance to the west of the Save-A-Lot entrance will be put in (for renters), with a corridor leading to an elevator lobby,” said Gautieri, adding that renovations will be made to the west side to make it more attractive for potential commercial enterprises such as a store or offices.

He said he is “hopeful and optimistic” that the apartments will be rented in short order after completion.

“There have been multiple studies concerning the need for downtown housing and all show that there is a definite need,” he said. “I see no issues with renting them. They will be of very nice quality with modern codes. We believe there is a good market for downtown living.”

Gautieri said that apartment dwellers would be required to obtain parking permits from the City of Batavia for the Court Street lot, something that is allowed in the C-3 district.

Gautieri said his company will be coordinating and doing much of the work, which includes exterior work initially. He noted that V.J. Gautieri will be soliciting bids in an “open and competitive” process for specific trades, including Minority and Women Owned Businesses Enterprises and veteran-owned businesses.

He expects construction to take about eight months to complete.

The building was constructed in 1968 by V.J. Gautieri as a Montgomery Ward store for developer Stanley R. Gumburg of Pittsburgh. In the 1980s, the Batavia firm purchased the building, a move that brought the Super Duper supermarket chain to the city.

It was sold to a partnership in Buffalo before Gautieri bought it again from a mortgage lender while negotiating a lease with Save-A-Lot Food Stores Ltd.

Drawing above shows the north, south, east and west elevations views as depicted by DEAN Architects of Depew.

April 23, 2020 - 12:30pm

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.

January 13, 2020 - 10:58pm

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In preparing for his State of the City and 2020-21 budget presentation tonight, Batavia City Manager Martin Moore likely didn’t have to “dig” too far to come up with a theme for his report.

With numerous projects relating to the City’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from New York State in the pre-construction stage, Moore said he is designating 2020 as the “year of shovels in the ground.”

“This needs to be the year of shovels in the ground – a year where we complete the downtown renovation projects, incentivize private investors to reclaim Brownfield sites (and) move some City Centre properties back into private ownership for redevelopment,” he said during City Council’s Business Meeting.

Moore previously had expressed a measure of frustration over the lack of movement on key DRI projects, especially the mixed-use redevelopment of Ellicott Station by Savarino Companies of Buffalo (which was announced in 2016).

He also pointed to other priority projects, notably fixing the City Centre Mall concourse roof and situating Theatre 56 into its space in the mall.

“We want to see the mall roof project (completed),” he said. “It’s under contract; the contractor is scheduled to be here in the spring, so we’re looking forward to seeing them on the roof and getting it fixed.”

He reported that Theatre 56 has paid its rent for the first six months and is working with architects, the Department of State and the Batavia Development Corporation on designs for “rehabbing the space that they are leasing from the City Centre.”

Moore also said at least two “storefront grants” stemming from the DRI are close to getting their permits from the state.

“We look to those moving forward and construction starting, so I think we’re going to see some shovels in the ground in different areas of the city … in addition to what (the Department of) Public Works is already going to be working on.”

The city manager said the preliminary 2020-21 budget calls for a tax rate increase of .97 percent – from $8.92 per thousand of assessed valuation last fiscal year to $9.01 per thousand.

That means that a house assessed at $70,000, for example, would have an annual City tax bill of $630.70.

Moore also said water rates will increase by 3.5 percent and the meter fee would go up by about 66 cent per quarter for “the typical customer.”

He said he was optimistic that the assessed value in the City would increase as more and more development comes to fruition, and supported his belief with a chart showing that more than $140 million in economic projects are in the pipeline from the $100 Million I’m All In! campaign initiated by former City Manager Jason Molino.

In connection to that program, he listed several primary DRI projects that are in varying stages of completion:

-- Ellicott Station (housing grant application submitted);
-- Carr’s/Genesee Bank (design underway);
-- Ellicott Place (design near completion);
-- Healthy Living Campus, YMCA (design near completion);
-- Theatre 56 (lease fully executed);
-- Downtown Building Improvement Fund (projects in design);
-- City Centre Revitalization (feasibility study underway);
-- Jackson Square (grant agreement executed; RFP creation underway).

Additionally, Moore said the RFP (request for proposal) process for a new police station on Alva Place will be starting soon.

Budget revenue projections show $17.8 million in the general fund, $5 million in the water fund, $2.8 million in the wastewater fund and $213,000 in the City Centre fund, for total revenues of $25.9 million. Property taxes are projected to bring in $5.4 million.

During a State of the City address prior to the budget report, Moore reflected upon some highlights in 2019, including the opening of the Liberty Center for Youth, successful completion of police academy training by several new recruits, purchase of the MRAP armored vehicle, awarding the Key to the City to Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia and City employees' work at the Community Garden during the United Way Day of Caring.

He also said he is committed to maintaining the City’s high standards in financial record-keeping and budgeting -- noting that it once again received an award for its budget presentation in 2019 -- and to improving customer service.

“Frankly, the business of the City is a moot point if nobody is living in the City,” he said.

In other developments:

-- DPW Director Matt Worth reported that the City will be getting state and federal funding to rehabilitate Richmond Avenue and Harvester Avenue in 2022, adding that the City’s share of the $2 million projects could be as little as $50,000.

He also said the City received a $554,000 grant to replace lead service water lines on selected streets, with the work scheduled to start in the fall.

-- Council approved a $20,000 revolving loan fund grant to GO ART! to help support repairs and renovations of the building’s foundation, roof and drainage, windows, fence, interior and elevator at 201 E. Main St. The total project cost is $218,300, with much of it to be funded by several grants.

Photo -- Batavia City Clerk/Treasurer Heidi Parker, left, performs swearing-in ceremony for Council members John Canale, Rose Mary Christian, Kathleen Briggs, Patti Pacino and Paul Viele. Eugene Jankowski will continue as president while Viele will serve as president pro tempore. Photo by Mike Pettinella. 

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August 13, 2019 - 8:58am

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Grants – acceptance of, consideration of and application for – were the order of the day (actually, night) at Batavia City Council’s joint Conference and Business meeting on Monday at City Hall.

Resolutions pertaining to various grants, including a $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative award to make the Jackson Square entertainment spot more attractive, as well as those dealing with the repair of the Redfield Parkway pillars and the filling of vacancies on the police department kept things moving during the 90-minute session.

Department of Public Works Director Matt Worth reported that the City is required to enter into a detailed contract with the Department of State in order to release the three quarters of a million dollars from the $10 million DRI award bestowed on the City.

Plans call for the funds to be used to “enhance the enjoyment of the area (by) improving the street surface, lighting and other amenities during events,” Worth wrote in his Aug. 3 memo to City Manager Martin Moore.

Worth said the project has a “five-year window” for completion and added that he hoped that the design phase could take place next summer with construction completed sometime in 2021. This will be the first in what should be a long list of DRI projects in the City.

Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Department of State contract.

The board also approved acceptance of a National Grid Urban Center/Commercial District Revitalization Program grant of $165,000 to improve the City Centre Campus.

According to Rachael Tabelski, who is transitioning from economic development director to assistant city manager, the project will consist of a feasibility study, architectural services, roof replacement in separate areas, energy-efficient indoor lighting, painting and other repairs.

The award is a 3:1 matching grant, Tabelski said, that will be matched with committed City money along with funds from New York State Empire State Development Feasibility Grant, ESD DRI City Center Grant and Department of State DRI Grant for Harvester Theater 56.

In other action, Council:

-- Approved Police Chief Shawn Heubusch’s request to add two more officers to the staff, authorizing the recruits’ training ahead of a pair of anticipated retirements in order to shorten the time period between the retirements and their replacements.

Heubusch (in his memo to Moore) proposed hiring two officers this fall and sending them to the police academy next month.

“This way, the officers will be near completion in their field training process during the spring/summer of 2020,” he wrote.

He said currently three recruits are at the police academy and four are in field training, which leaves a shortage on the streets.

Considering the two impending retirements, Moore advised that there would be no additional cost to the city but could result in a savings of up to $13,000.

-- Accepted a $10,500 grant from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles for police traffic services, specifically to increase seat belt usage; agreed to Heubusch applying for a federal grant supporting an additional detective position for four years to address narcotics issues, and voted in favor of establishing a police K-9 program with support from business and individual donations.

-- Received an update from Worth on the rehabilitation of the pillars on the south end of Redfield Parkway. The City’s budget includes $70,000 out of the facilties reserve to repair the structures.

Wroth said bids went out on Aug. 1 and will be opened on Aug. 27. He expects Council to act on the matter at its Sept. 9 Business meeting, and said construction could start either this fall or next spring.

At least one Council member said she may vote against it.

“If it’s over $70,000, I’ll disapprove of it,” Rose Mary Christian said. “I disapproved of it from the beginning because it is taxpayer money.”

-- Moved to the next business meeting a pair of $20,000 grant requests from the City’s Revolving Loan Fund by Guy Clark, owner of Cedar Street Sales & Rentals, and by Stephen Valle and Carrie and John Lawrence, owners of a hair salon/apartment building at 242 Ellicott St. (at the corner of Liberty Street).

Clark is expanding with a building across the street from his existing business and the grant money would be used to add “an attractive and functional front porch façade to this new building,” Tabelski said.

She reported that Clark has received tax incentives ($37,000) from the Genesee County Economic Development Center, including Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), which will result in Clark paying $28,000 into the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2) fund over the next 10 years and another $28,000 to the three taxing jurisdictions (City of Batavia, Batavia City School District and Genesee County).

Tabelski said the project will retain 10 employees and add one or two employees while generating an estimated $16,000 in additional sales tax revenue.

The Valle/Lawrence projects centers on renovation of the 3,400-square-foot building, with the City grant earmarked for completion of the entire façade and renovation of one of the two upstairs apartments.

Previously, the trio received $22,050, about a third of the project cost, in grant funds from the Batavia DRI-Building Improvement Fund.

Tabelski noted that the property is in the flood plain, where it is “difficult to reinvest” and the project “encourages downtown living.”

While Council members Kathleen Briggs and Paul Viele stated their support for this plan, Christian disagreed.

“There are a couple apartments in that building … why can’t they take care of their own?” she asked. “We have to take care of our houses.”

Tabelski responded that the City is advancing its homeowner assistance program and that about 70 residents have expressed interest in it, to which Christian nodded affirmatively.

Photo at top -- Police Chief Shawn Heubusch congratulates Joshua Girvin after the recruit's swearing in at Monday night's City Council meeting. Girvin, an Albion resident, starts the second phase of the police academy today and is expected to join the police force in a few months. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

March 11, 2019 - 9:13pm

City Manager Martin Moore optimistically proclaimed that the City of Batavia is “open for business” following the passage of the municipality’s 2019-20 spending plan tonight.

“We need to be able to send a message to the rest of the state of New York and the rest of this area of the United States that we’re open for business – and I think that this budget does that, and I think very successfully,” Moore said after City Council voted 8-1 in favor of the $27.4 million budget.

The budget calls for $5.2 million to be raised by taxes, but keeps the property tax rate at $8.96 per thousand of assessed valuation – the same as last year’s rate. At that rate, owners of a house assessed for $70,000, for example, would pay an annual city tax bill of $627.20.

Moore said no tax increase “was really, really important, and the other thing that I felt good about was our ability to sustain services by not increasing taxes.”

While holding the line on taxes is admirable, it isn’t good enough, said Council member Rose Mary Christian, who cast the lone “no” vote.

“I am hearing a lot of opposition … some people are against the nonprofits that we’re contributing to, the celebrations and (repair of) the pillars on Redfield Parkway,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been hearing from people.”

Christian also was the only dissenter when it came to voting on the water rates, meter fees and capital improvement fees for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Water rates and meter fees are going up by 3.5 percent and capital improvement fees are increasing by 10 percent – the same as last year’s increases.

She said her quarterly water bill, for two people, is $142 and mentioned that some single families are paying over $100.

When Council President Eugene Jankowski said that “the bill for my wife and I is $90 every three months,” Christian responded by saying “we must be washing too much or something.”

Moore responded to questions from The Batavian about Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant and the status of the Ellicott Station project – two ventures that have been in the works for quite some time.

“Five of the eight (DRI) projects are moving forward with either agreements in hand or being reviewed by the various parties,” he said. “I know that a couple of them are in design right now.”

Regarding Ellicott Station, he spoke in generalities, saying that the parties involved “are working on the financial proposals and they’re very close” and that he will be meeting with them in the next week or two.

The city manager said he was excited about the micro-grant program with the Batavia Development Corporation, noting that they’ve received 23 or 24 applicants for Main Street (downtown) grants.

“Some of those applicants BDC will take and try to get Main Street money and hopefully get even more capital improvements on Main Street,” he said. “I’m feeling very optimistic that our first set of projects will be ready to go and start construction sometime this summer.”

City Council passed a number of resolutions, including:

-- Authorizing the City to apply for a pair of National Grid grants – an urban center/commercial district revitalization grant of up to $250,000 to assist in the repair and renovation of the City Centre and a Main Street grant of $100,000 to assist in the rehabilitation of a City Centre parcel to be used by the Batavia Players.

-- The awarding of three contracts relating to the Water and Wastewater Treatment facilities.

One is for Daniels Farm of Waterport, which will pay the City $114,000 over the next three years to harvest fathead minnows from the facility at 5 Treadeasy Ave.

Another is with seven different companies which will supply chemicals needed for the operation of the water plant.

And the third is with A.D. Call & Sons of Stafford to remove and dispose of liquid lime sludge from the plant over the next two years at a cost of $6,850 per each of the two times it is required.

-- Permitting a shared services agreement with the state Department of Transportation that would allow for the City and DOT to assist each other with equipment, materials and manpower on a limited basis (maximum value of $10,000) with an emergency declaration by the governor.

Council also approved the All Babies Cherished 5K walk/run set for 9 a.m. to noon on June 8, starting and ending at Northgate Free Methodist Church’s city facility at 350 Bank St.

Moore reported that the City has received word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Insurance Services Office that it has been approved to continue participation in the Community Rating System at its current Level 7 rating.

November 27, 2018 - 3:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dri, Downtown Revitalization Initiative, downtown, news, batavia.

image004driarea_0.pngPress release:

The Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) announced today that applications for a $600,000 Building Improvement Fund are available to all building owners within the Batavia Improvement District (BID) as part of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

Batavia is “All In” to reshape its urban core by embracing and celebrating its rich entrepreneurial history, fostering cultural appreciation and creating vibrant places for all to enjoy.

In alignment with the Batavia Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Investment Strategy the city will seek to foster more arts, culture and entertainment; healthy living and wellness; and prosperity for all.

“As co-chair of the DRI Local Planning Committee I am pleased that this building improvement fund is moving forward, and building owners interested in making investment can receive assistance through the $600,000 fund,” said Eugene Jankowski, City Council president.

The Building Improvement Fund was recommended as a priority by the DRI Local Planning Committee and included in the Batavia DRI Investment Strategy. Filling vacant and underutilized structures has been a common goal across many of Batavia’s planning documents including the Brownfield Opportunity Area (2015), the City’s Comprehensive Plan (2016) and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Investment Strategy (2018).

“The DRI is an amazing economic development tool to improve Downtown Batavia, help new businesses start-up, and existing ones thrive,” said Marty Moore, City of Batavia manager. “I will be working hard to ensure that we continue to support our local businesses and building owners.”

“The DRI Local Planning Committee is committed to seeing the recommended projects move forward in downtown Batavia,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) and co-chair of the DRI Local Planning Committee. “These are exciting times for Batavia, and the County, with so many investments in transformational downtown projects.”

Building owners selected for grants will be awarded between $10,000 (minimum) up to $200,000 (maximum) in DRI grant funds, per building, not to exceed 60 percent of the total building renovation project cost.

The funding is on a building-by-building basis and “in-kind” match is not eligible. Costs incurred prior to the effective date of the grant agreement are not eligible for reimbursement, and not eligible as a match.

“The fund has been established to provide grant funding for applicants to implement interior and exterior building improvements in Batavia’s BID. Buildings must be commercial and/or mixed-use structures, have a plan ready to implement and funding to cover the cost of the entire project up-front,” said Pier Cipollone, president of the Batavia Development Corporation.

Eligible activities including façade improvements, window/door repair and replacement, painting, masonry repair, awnings, building signs, exterior lighting, storefront upgrades, roofs, and interior upgrades (heating, plumbing, electrical, walls, floors). Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 18th.

Rachael Tabelski, director of Economic Development of the BDC said, “The BDC is looking forward to working with Downtown building owners, understanding their plans, and finding ways to advance improvements and renovations. With each new building that we save and repair there is an enormous social and economic impact on our City.”

Leanna DiRisio, interim director of the Downtown Batavia Improvement District said, “I look forward to working with BDC and the Downtown building owners as interim director. I am confident that the Building Improvement Fund is a great resource and will increase the momentum of downtown living, shopping and entertaining."

The BDC will host an information session about the Batavia DRI-Building Improvement Fund on Tuesday Dec. 18th at 9 a.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. All building owners are welcomed and encouraged to attend.

Guidelines and the application can be found on the BDC website here.

March 16, 2018 - 7:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Downtown Revitalization Initiative, dri, downtown, batavia, news, notify.

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After looking over the final $15 million in grant-request projects Batavia will submit to the state for its Downtown Revitalization Initiative prize, Councilman Al McGinnis said he was pleased and excited about the prospect for the future of the city.

"I think we’re lucky enough to be around here in five or six years, it will be a revitalized Batavia that we won’t recognize and we will wish we had it earlier," McGinnis said. "It’s only going to impact us in a positive way. It’s just too bad it didn’t happen 20 years ago."

Looking specifically at the public market and at Batavia Players' plans for a downtown location for what is now Theater 56, McGinnis said that one project is just a single example of how all of these ideas have a chance at making downtown a better place for residents and businesses.

"This is great stuff," McGinnis said. "I mean, we don’t have the money for this. If the state can give us this money and we can do most of these things, there’s no downside to this. There is none. It’s all positive. I just wish the State could give us $5 million more."

The state's prize is to award $10 million worth of local projects. A local committee of community members made the first cut -- $15 million worth of projects -- from the batch of applicants, but the state gets the final say in whittling down the choices to $10 million in grants.

The local committee's final choices were presented to the public Thursday night during an open house at City Hall.

Interim City Manager Matt Worth said he liked what he saw.

"Some of the discussions have been about downtown being a real neighborhood and I think some of the projects lend themselves to that," Worth said. "It’s really encouraging seeing some of the momentum the City has. There’s more interest in what’s going on downtown than I’ve seen in an awfully long time, so that’s very positive."

Victor Gautieri has the dual perspective of a longtime downtown leader as president of the Business Improvement District and as an applicant for a grant for his project on Ellicott Street (the Save-A-Lot building).

 He's hoping the state will prioritize projects that might not otherwise be viable without the assistance.

"There are a lot of very nice projects that are here," he said. "I think some are more appropriate than others. I am a believer that the grant money should be going to those that really need it in the private sector.

"We’re very hopeful we’re going to be able to get our grant because that is what is going to make the project," he added. "That’s the only way we will ever able to do what we want to do with that property."

Looking at the projects as a whole, Gautieri thinks we won't even recognize Batavia in a few years.

"If several of these projects get the green light and are awarded a grant, it’s going to transform downtown," Gautieri said. "It’s going to look like it never has before, especially on the Southside, the Ellicott Street side. That is where we need, I think, the most help."

Here's a summary of the projects being submitted to the State:

  • Build Ellicott Station: Savarino Companies, 40-52, 56-70 Ellicott St.; project cost, $23 million; DRI funding, $425,000;  
  • Build Newberry Place Lofts: AGRV Properties, 109-111 Main St.; project cost, $350,000; DRI funding, $175,000;
  • Revitalize Carr's and Genesee Bank Building: Kenneth and Andrew Mistler, 97, 101-103 and 105-107 Main St.; project cost, $5.3 million; DRI funding, $1.2 million;
  • Develop Ellicott Place: V.J. Gautieri Constructors, 45-47 Ellicott St.; project cost, $2.5 million; DRI funding, $1.15 million;
  • Develop Healthy Living Campus: Genesee YMCA/UMMC, 207-213 E. Main St.; project cost, $22.5 million; DRI funding, $5 million.
  • Activate Batavia Innovation Zones: Batavia Development Corp; project cost, $400,000; DRI funding, $200,000;
  • Construction Theater 56: Batavia Players and City of Batavia, 35 City Centre; project cost, $901,750; DRI funding, $701,750;
  • Construct Downtown Public Market: BID and City of Batavia, Alva Place parking lot; project cost, $2.5 million; DRI funding, $1.5 million;
  • Create a Building Improvement Fund: BDC; project cost, $800,000; DRI funding, $600,000;
  • Upgrade City Center: City of Batavia; project cost, $1.5 million; DRI funding, $1 million;
  • Renovate 206 E. Main St.: Just Chez Realty, 206 E. Main St.; project cost: $675,000; DRI funding, $405,000;
  • Enhance Jackson Square: City of Batavia; project cost, $750,000; DRI funding, $750,000;
  • Upgrade Masonic Temple: David E. Howe, 200 E. Main St.; project cost, $750,000; DRI funding, $500,000;
  • Develop Branding, Place Making and Wayfinding: Business Improvement District; project cost, $250,000; DRI funding, $200,000;
  • Enhance GO ART! Arts and Culture Center: GO ART!, 201 E. Main St.; project cost, $1.3 million; DRI funding, $1.225 million.

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February 9, 2018 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Downtown Revitalization Initiative, dri, downtown, batavia, news.

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One of the five criteria for members of the Local Planning Committee to consider in selecting which projects to forward to the state as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is "community input." 

About 30 members of the public turned out Thursday night at City Hall for their chance to weigh in on the projects they think most deserving of a portion of the $10 million DRI prize the state awarded to Batavia in October.

Each participant received a strip of stickers, two red for their top priorities, and one each of green, blue and yellow.

A new marquee and new seats for Batavia Showtime Theaters was the crowd favorite with a total of 17 little round stickers on its project board.

The theater is owned by local businessman Ken Mistler. His other DRI project, Carr's Reborn, was also popular, getting 15 stickers, and 12 of those were red, the most of any project. 

The Healthy Living Campus received 16 stickers, with nine red.

The public market also got 16, with six red.

The Batavia Player's project, Theater 56, received 14 stickers, and six of those were red.

The complete street project for Ellicott Street received 11 stickers, four red.

Ellicott Place received 10 stickers, four red.

GO ART! rounds out the other favorites, among the 25 total projects, with eight stickers, five red.

The other four criteria for the LPC to consider are the readiness of the project, the project's consistency with establishing planning documents, the catalytic potential of the project (can it drive more development), and the ratio of grant request vs. the amount of money being put in by the project developer.

The LPC has two more meetings before sending its recommendations to the state. The next meeting will be a report from consultants who will answer questions raised about projects during the process. At the final meeting, the committee will whittle down the 25 projects to those with no more than $15 million in funding requests.

The state will take that recommended list and select projects with requests of no more than $10 million.

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February 2, 2018 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Downtown Revitalization Initiative, downtown, batavia, news, notify.

The planning committee for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will ask project leaders from seven project applications to make a presentation about their project at a future committee meeting, committee members decided during a meeting at City Hall this morning.

The projects are: 

  • Carr's Reborn
  • Ellicott Place
  • Theater 56
  • Healthy Living Corridor
  • Healthy Living Center
  • BID marketing/branding
  • Public Market
  • GO Art!

The committee is either looking for more information, to clarify other funding sources, to ask if the amount of DRI funding for the project could be reduced, or just to better understand the projects.

The DRI is a $10 million prize received by the City of Batavia from the state to help fund a variety of downtown projects intended to increase traffic and business in the city's primary business and cultural center.

Several other projects, the committee felt, were complete applications already and no additional information is required, such as Ellicott Station, Newberry Place, Jackson Square, renovations to the second floor of 206 E. Main St., and the Masonic Temple Building.

Six other projects were selected for a group submission; however, the applicants will need to go through a process similar to the state's Main Street Program, which provides funding at 75 percent of the project's total cost. Those projects include building renovation to 39-43 Ellicott St., Borrell Gym, facade work for 214 and 216 E. Main St., and Batavia Showtime.

This morning's conversation included some concern about some of the projects under consideration. 

Committee Co-Chairman Eugene Jankowski said he's hearing objections from local residents to using DRI prize money for the Healthy Living Center, which is a nonprofit, tax-exempt project. He said people felt the project backers, UMMC and the YMCA, being nonprofits, have other funding avenues not open to local business owners competing for DRI money. City Church Pastor Marty Macdonald shared the same concern and it was his perception that the project was well underway before the DRI award was made to the city.

Co-Chairman Steve Hyde said he was part of the project in its early stages -- he resigned after being selected for the DRI committee -- and he said organizers knew the city was applying for the DRI prize and that the potential of the grant was always part of the potential financing plan for the center.

There is also concern that the project is seeking $5 million, or half of the $10 million pie.  

Similar concerns were raised about the $3 million for the mall and $5 million for renovations to Ellicott Street (a median, plus pedestrian and bike paths).

Committee member John Riter expressed concern that both of these projects aren't far enough along and aren't able to provide the committee with enough information.

Hyde said the Genesee County Economic Development Center is taking a lead role in the revitalization of the mall and suggested that perhaps the mall should be included with a $1 million request to provide some start-up funds for the potential $30 million project. He said there is a developer interested but there needs to be some preliminary work done.

The committee appeared willing to consider that request.

The committee will present a list of projects totaling $15 million in requested funding and state officials will select the final winning projects for a total prize of $10 million. The current list is at $16,187,000.

January 10, 2018 - 2:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Downtown Revitalization Initiative, downtown, batavia, news, notify.

dri_jan92018.jpg

The 25 projects vying for a piece of the $10 million prize awarded by the state to Batavia as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative are full of ideas for dining, entertainment and downtown living and this just what the committee considering the proposals should concentrate on, Steve Hyde said near the end of last night's review of the projects.

Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, is co-chair of the Local Planning Committee for the DRI.

Quoting from a book he's reading on planning, he said, " 'If a place lacks attractive shopping, dining, and entertainment options, it may struggle to attract and retain workers and employers as a result.'

"Keep that in mind as another piece of this," he added. "It really is embodied in our goals and strategies. Shopping, dining and entertainment are very important considerations as we try to move from that millennials' complex of Blahtavia."

The projects range from $39,000 to expand downtown's art canvas to $5 million for the Ellicott Street Corridor or $5 million for proposed Healthy Living Center.

Altogether, the 25 projects total more than $24 million in requested DRI funding.

The committee will need to whittle down the requests to $15 million total and state officials will make the final decision on which projects get funded for how much, to a total of $10 million.

Here's a summary of the projects:

  • Theater 56:
    • Total project cost, $701,750. Funding request, $546,000. Location, in City Center at the former location of Dent Neurological. Proposed by Batavia Players. It would create a theater, offices and storage. 
  • BOA/BP2 Strategic Site Advancement
    • Total project cost $30 million. Funding request, $3 million. This project involves rehabilitation and new development at the mall, including extending Jackson Street.
  • BOA/BP2 Strategic Site Advancement
    • Total project costs, $15 million. Funding request, $1 million. This funding would assist construction of the Health Living Center proposed by the YMCA and UMMC.
  • BOA/BP2 Strategic Site Advancement
    • Total project costs, $15 million. Funding request, $1 million. This is for construction of new residential apartments off Evans Street and by the Tonawanda Creek. There is reportedly a developer with ties to Genesee County who has experience with large BOA projects in cities such as Corning who is interested in this project.
  • Batavia Innovation Zones
    • Project cost, $400,000. Funding request, $200,000. This is a request by the BDC to create more business incubator space similar to the current construction of freshLab in the former Newberry's building. The new incubators would be planned for the Carr's buidling, the public market, and GO Art!
  • Newberry Place Lofts
    • Project cost, $350,000. Funding request, $150,000. This is to assist with the existing project, which includes completion of three market-rate apartments in the building and the addition of a beer garden in Jackson Square.
  • Ellicott Place
    • Project cost, $2.5 million. Funding request, $1.15 million. This project would create retail spaces on the Ellicott Street side of the current Sav-A-Lot building (currently vacant space in the building), the addition of apartments on the second floor, and the creation of interior parking for new apartments.
  • Healthy Living Campus
    • Project cost, $22.5 million. Funding request, $5 million. This is a joint project of the YMCA and UMMC for new construction on the site of the current Y, the Cary Building and the vacant lot once occupied by the Elks Lodge. It would be an 85,000-square-foot building with more than 140 full-time equivilant employees. 
  • Downtown Public Market
    • Project cost, $2 million to $3 million. Funding request, $1 million. This would create a permanent structure for the public market at Bank Street and Alva Place.
  • 214 & 216 E. Main St.
    • Project cost, $150,000. Funding request, $90,000. This project would restore the facade to its vintage look of 216 E. Main, the former Montgomery Ward and upgrade the facade of 214 E. Main St.
  •  Jackson Square
    • Project cost, $750,000. Funding request, $500,000. This would complete the Jackson Square project started in 2004 by removing the concrete in Jackson Square and replacing it with brick, including the entryways off Jackson and Center streets.
  • GO Art! Arts & Cultural Center
    • Project cost, $2.2 million. Funding request, $1.98 million. This project would include upkeep and upgrades to Seymore Place at Main and Bank, including the addition of an elevator and performance space on the second floor.
  • Ellicott Station
    • Project cost, $23 million. Funding request, $425,000. The money is requested to cover an unexpected environmental remediation expense -- the removal of an old drainage canal under the property.
  • Ellicott Street Corridor
    • Project cost, $5 million. Funding request, $5 million. To help tie together two sections of the Ellicott Trail and to make Ellicott Street more attractive and safer for pedestrians and bike riders, this would add a median to the street and create a barrier between bike lanes and vehicle traffic.
  • Batavia City Art Canvas
    • Project cost, $39,000. Funding requests, $39,000. A project championed by local artist Brian Kemp that is already underway, the money would be used to buy supplies for artists to create more murals downtown and create material for a walking tour of Downtown Batavia's outdoor art.
  • Downtown Marketing/Branding
    • Project cost, $250,000. Funding request, $200,000. A request by the Business Improvement District for new marketing material and branding approach for Downtown.
  • Carr's Reborn
    • Project cost, $7.1 million. Funding request, $1.5 million. A request to complete restoration of the Carr's building and the former Genesee Bank. These would be mixed-use developments with retail, a cafe and apartments.
  • Batavia Showtime
    • Project cost, $250,000. Funding request, $250,000. The proposal is for a new marquee on the theater, lounge seating, and a 3D-movie system.
  • Historic Masonic Temple 
    • Project cost, $750,000. Funding request, $290,000. This project includes adding an elevator to make the third and fourth floors more accessible. The owner, Dave Howe, could then potentially convert those floors to apartments.
  • 206 E. Main St.
    • Project cost, $674,000. Funding request, $404,000. Rehabilitation of the second floor of the building, adding a banquet facility and bar for Main St. Pizza Company, and market-rate apartments.
  • 315 and 327 Ellicott St.
    • Project cost, $120,000. Funding request, $80,000. Improvements to commercial and residential units.
  • Waggoner Building
    • Project cost, $77,000. Funding request, $38,500. Renovations to second-floor office space. Location is School and Jackson streets.
  • Game On
    • Project cost, $150,000. Funding request, $150,000. Owner is requesting funding for new equipment, marketing and working capital.
  • Borrell's Gym
    • Project cost, $100,000. Funding request, $80,000. Improvements to the gym.
  • Vance Group
    • Project cost $70,000. Funding request, $40,000. Improvements to the facade and residential units at corner of Liberty and Ellicott streets.

There were also requests for projects outside the DRI boundary, including upgrades to Faletti Ice Arena, two buildings on South Swan, and improvements to Austin Park. The committee seemed to not favor considering these projects.

Consultant Ed Flynn will need to work with some of the projects to get more details for the proposal and the committee will try to pick several of the most viable projects and perhaps ask the owners or project leaders to make a presentation to the committee.

Top photo: Consultant Ed Flynn.

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Eric Fix and Craig Yunker

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Tom Turnbull

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Marianne Clattenburg, Susie Ott, Tammy Hathaway

December 29, 2017 - 4:57pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The process of compiling the final list of the City of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative award projects enters another phase next week when the 20-member Local Planning Committee reconvenes.

“We’re at a point where outlines (of prospective projects) will be given to the LPC, evaluation of the criteria will take place and summaries of project submissions will be reviewed,” said Steve Hyde, Genesee County Economic Development Center president and co-chair of the committee.

Hyde is serving as co-chair of the LPC along with Eugene Jankowski, City Council president, and Maria Figurele, executive director of CDC of Rochester,

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at City Centre Council Chambers.

The LPC will consider projects submitted by developers as part of the $10 million DRI award that was granted to Batavia by New York State Department of State in coordination with the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal.

Jankowski said the future of the City Centre Mall has entered into the discussions, but he considers that to be “separate and on its own track” due to a pending agreement between the City and the Mall Merchants Association.

“What we’re primarily looking for are more private projects which will go on the tax rolls,” Jankowski said.

Hyde said the mall is “a big part of the conversation, but not the only thing.”

“It’s an important one, but there is a mix of projects,” he added.

Hyde said he expects that the LPC will meet again before the end of January for a “final review” and that the “vetted list will become the crux” of recommendations that will be forwarded to the State Department.

“We make recommendations, but ultimately, the state makes the decisions,” he said, adding that final submissions are due in March.

Jankowski urged the public to take in next week’s discussion, and then share their thoughts with the LPC members afterwards.

“We need the public to get involved – both with the DRI and with the city manager search process,” he said. “There are 15,000 people here and I’m only hearing from about five or six who claim they represent the people. This is your money; we need your input.”

Members of the LPC are as follows:

-- James Sunser, Ed.D., Genesee Community College president;
-- Pier Cipollone, Batavia Development Corporation president;
-- Craig Yunker, managing member, CY Farms LLC;
-- Tammy Hathaway, president, Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council;
-- Patrick Burk, Batavia City School Board president;
-- Erik Fix, United Way of Genesee County executive director;
-- Marianne Clattenburg, Genesee County legislator;
-- Tom Turnbull, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce president;
-- John McKenna, president and CEO, Tompkins Bank of Castile;
-- Susie Ott, Commercial Insurance Team Leader, Lawley Insurance;
 -- Julia Garver, Genesee YMCA director;
-- John Riter, resident director, Merrill Lynch;
-- Peter Casey, attorney, Del Plato Casey Law Firm;
-- Matt Gray, Eli Fish Brewing Company restaurant entrepreneur;
-- Nathan Varlan, executive director, Batavia Housing Authority;
-- Paul Battaglia, Genesee County Economic Development Center chair;
-- Mary Valle, owner, Valle Jewelers;
-- Rev. Marty Macdonald, City Church;
-- John Bookmiller, owner, Java Farm Supply;
-- Dan Ireland, president, United Memorial Medical Center.

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