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Downtown Revitalization Initiative

December 9, 2021 - 9:30pm

For Padma Kasthurirangan, a national expert in wind energy distribution, a project being promoted by Whitecap Electric, LLC, of Amherst, in the Town of Darien can’t begin fast enough.

“We would like to start, like two years ago, but our construction will probably be in 2023,” said Kasthurirangan, responding to The Batavian’s question about a starting date for the installation of two wind turbines of up to 2.5 megawatts each on farmland at 2311 Bennett Road.

The chief engineer and president of Buffalo Renewables, she was in Batavia tonight -- along with three colleagues – at the Genesee County Planning Board meeting at County Building 2.

County planners recommended approval of the site plan and special use permit, with a few modifications pertaining to decommissioning, visual impact and bird analysis studies, and stormwater prevention.

As reported on The Batavian yesterday, the $6 million project calls for the wind turbines, which would be connected to the grid under the Community Distributed Generation program, to be about 450 feet high.

During the meeting, Kasthurirangan informed planners that her company has been working on this for quite some time, and is committed to meeting all requirements put forth by the Town of Darien.

She said utilities will be placed under the ground and that the company is not requesting any variances.

John Hannon, a partner with Triad Recycle and Energy in Buffalo, added that they’re waiting for National Grid to determine where it wants the connection, and will restore any disrupted land to agricultural use.

Also representing the project at the meeting were Vasu Primlani, business development manager at Buffalo Renewables and a renowned environmentalist, and engineer Kenneth Rawe Jr.

Hannon said that Triad Recycle and Energy has two wind turbines at its facility in Tonawanda and that “Padma has put up more turbines than anyone in New York State.”

On the subject of noise complaints from wind turbines, Kasthurirangan said that most of the noise complaints “are not usually backed by actual noise issues.”

“It can make noise when there's a problem with the turbine, but the turbines that we pick will be certified to IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standards, and they go through a whole acoustic testing process," she said.

In other action, planners recommended approval of:

  • A revised site plan for exterior changes at 99 Main St., Batavia, an historic building that is being renovated as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
  • A zoning map change from Planned Development to Residential for homes at 145 and 147 Pearl St., Batavia, to enable the placement of a shed at 147 Pearl St. The matter now will go to the City Planning & Development Committee.

GENESEE 2050 TALK SCHEDULED

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari announced that a presentation of the Genesee 2050 project, encompassing the county's Comprehensive and Recreation plans, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Old County Courthouse. Citizens can attend in person or via Zoom. Contact Oltramari at 585-815-7901 for more information.

Previously: Planners to review revised site plan for 99 Main St.

September 29, 2021 - 4:47pm

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If not for a flooded basement many years ago, today’s grand opening of Ellicott Place and City View Residences at 45 Ellicott St. likely would have never taken place.

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

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Speaking to a gathering of about 40 people in front of the entrance to the second-floor apartments above the Save-A-Lot store, Vito Gautieri, founder and chairman of VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., recalled circumstances that took place not long after the completion of the building in 1968.

“We built this building … owned it with the bank,” Gautieri said. “Montgomery Ward had a 25-year lease when we got done with this. What you see upstairs – the second floor – that was not supposed to be there.”

Then, he pointed to a car parked to the west, in an area toward the front of Batavia Tailors & Cleaners, which his company built and his late brother, Vin, owned for many years.

“That (location of the Montgomery Ward storage and warehouse) was supposed to be in the cellar (of this building). All of a sudden we came back after the weekend (and it was) like a pool – full of water,” he said. “We had pumps going for hours and days, and nothing.”

Gautieri said an engineer was called to inspect the damage.

“He comes over. We had to stop construction. In a week’s time, they had the second floor up,” he continued “That’s why this project … From the day one that I got this project, I knew we were going to do something with that on the second floor.”

After noting that his son, Victor, had thanked all those associated with the completion of one of the City of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative ventures, he said, “That without the help from New York State, this would never had been possible.”

Indeed, Victor Gautieri, company president, moments before did thank the people and agencies that contributed to the construction of 10 apartments on the second floor along with the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements. It is a $3.1 million project, supported by $1.15 million in DRI funding.

“VJ Gautieri Constructors with the help of governmental agencies, professionals, contractors, skilled workers and the like have given new life to an aging building,” Victor Gautieri said. “It wasn’t an easy task. We started the project in the middle of a pandemic, which created a lot of obstacles. Supply chain issues and cost increases forced us to re-evaluate nearly every aspect of the project on a daily basis.”

He pointed out that his team “was up to the task – upgrading and modernizing nearly aspect of the property as well as creating 10 well-appointed, elevator-serviced apartments that are filling the downtown Batavia housing need.”

“We currently have eight of those apartments rented and the other two will be rented very shortly.”

Victor Gautieri’s “thank you” list started with his father, “who through his forward thinking many years ago had a vision of the building’s transformation (drawing a round of applause).”

“Next is David Rowley, project manager, through his dedication, expertise and problem-solving that we were able to make it to the finish line,” he said.

He also commended Dan Seeler of Seeler Contracting, Inc., of Holley, and Lenora Page, owner, Flower City Monitor Services, for their efforts, as well as his wife, Julie, and sister, Valerie, for assisting with the interior décor and rental process, respectively; Mark Dean of Dean Architects, and Frank Cipriano of Upstate National Bank.

Victor Gautieri thanked the City of Batavia for “an excellent job” preparing the DRI grant application, to the Genesee County Economic Development Center for providing "much needed: financial assistance, and John Hedlund, owner of Save-A-Lot for his “continued commitment to downtown Batavia,” noting that Hedlund just renewed a long-term lease.

Other speakers included Assemblyman Steven Hawley, Senator Edward Rath, City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. and Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein. Batavia Development Corp. Director Brett Frank facilitated the proceedings.

Assemblyman Hawley:

“All you have to really do is look around, behind you and to your left and right, and this is downtown Batavia. And we’re here to talk about revitalization – not just for businesses but for great living, affordable apartments that the Gautieris have worked long and hard to see come to fruition.

“Affordable housing is extremely important for businesses to be able to survive and succeed, and today’s open house is going to be a step in the right direction. If you’re looking for clothing or (prescription) drugs or insurance or banks, there are lots of places to choose from. And the folks who live here and other places in downtown Batavia will be the benefactors of living right here in the beautiful City of Batavia.”

Senator Rath:

Noting that eight of the 10 residences are already rented, he said, “That goes to show you that is already a destination right here in the City of Batavia.”

“This is the hub of economic activity and investment that is happening right here in the great City of Batavia. (On a tour of the city with City Manager Rachael Tabelski), he was able “to hear first-hand the vision and the strategy and the approach to bringing the City of Batavia further along in the 21st Century."

“This is a tremendous investment for this community. This is where you want to have people living and working and spending their time and recreation is right here in the City of Batavia.”

Rath said he serves on the Cities II Committee in the State Senate.

“There used to be just one Cities Committee and you can all guess where all the attention was paid for the Cities Committee in New York State. It was New York City. That’s all they did was prioritize policies and legislation to benefit New York City.

“This year, we brought about the Cities II Committee to focus on and prioritize all of the other cities across New York State. We are going to carry the issues, needs and concerns of all of our upstate cities back to Albany to create policies, procedures and regulations that are city-friendly outside of … New York City.”

City Council President Jankowski:

“It’s no secret that this building needed to be repurposed for many years, and it’s going to have a serious positive economic impact on our community. But not only that, it’s going to create 10 homes for people that can live downtown and enjoy the benefits of living downtown. The fact that eight apartments are already rented so quickly is a sign that we need more of these type of apartments in our community.”

Mentioning that he lives on the city’s southside, he acknowledged Victor Gautieri’s perseverance through the COVID-19 pandemic, and said, “I’m proud to go by everyday and I smile when I see the transformation that took place.”

Legislature Chair Stein:

Thanking the Gautieri family, she drew a round of applause when saying that “family business today is important in Genesee County and we honor you and your work today.”

She also thanked the DRI committee members for their hard work and “the constant conversations that you had to ensure that these projects would make it through and actually get through to completion. Your work is most incredible and you saw the future that is here today.”

“For the rest of us, the City View (Residences) is an absolutely wonderful name because there will be sunrises and there will be sunsets that people have in their homes – and homes that people didn’t have before. They are our workforce. These are the folks that are putting down roots in Batavia and congratulations to all of them.”

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Photo at top: Taking part in the ribbon cutting at City View Residences are, from left, Vito Gautieri, David Rowley, Victor Gautieri, Senator Edward Rath, Assemblyman Steven Hawley, Lenora Page and Eugene Jankowski Jr. Photos at bottom: Vito and Victor Gautieri as Rath and Jankowski look on; Rath at the podium. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

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

August 26, 2021 - 3:58pm

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While there has been much activity in the City of Batavia, especially with Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Main Street Grant projects, the same can’t be said about the renovation of the former C.L. Carr department store at 101-107 Main St.

According to the “project tracking” chart generated by the Batavia Development Corp., a $1 million DRI award (of the $5.25 million total investment) was allocated to the Carr’s rehabilitation.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, at this morning’s Batavia Development Corp. board meeting, said building owner Ken Mistler has met with representatives of Urban Vantage of Buffalo, a consulting firm, as he seeks the best course of action to repurpose the space.

“I’ve had several meetings with Mr. Mistler and he would like to move the project forward,” Tabelski said. “The next steps are to see if they want to go after an historic designation for the building – whether it’s worth that and the tax credits – and assuring that they can get architecture, engineering and design on the building done because you can’t do construction until you get that done.”

She said her discussions with Mistler have focused on keeping the bottom floor as commercial space, with the possibility of multiple stores there, and turning the upper floors into residential space.

“We talked about potentially doing furnished corporate loft-type space for some of the companies we have here,” she said. “We’re always getting requests for furnished space.”

The building has one section with three floors and another with two floors.

Tabelski also mentioned the need for corporate rentals and boutique hotel space in Batavia.

“When they look at their return on investment, they’re not just going to look at residential, they’re going to see if some of these mixes could work there,” she offered, mentioning The Shirt Factory Café in Medina as a prime example of mixed-use success.

There, the first floor houses a coffee shop, hair stylist and mead works, while the second floor has an attorney’s office and boutique hotel room in the loft space, and the third floor features boutique hotel rooms.

“In a way, the business model could be very similar to Carr’s. A very different building, very historically-significant -- The Newell Shirt Factory in Medina – but the mix of tenancy could be a great example for them to look at and follow.”

She said some preliminary work was done on the Carr’s site before COVID-19 hit “and now they’re getting back to it.”

“It’s nice to see it get moving along because when looking at all of the projects, that is the one that needed to advance through the necessary stages,” she said.

Contacted this afternoon, Mistler said that he has not contracted with Urban Vantage at this point and any information on what the renovation ultimately will look like is speculation.

Photo by Mike Pettinella

August 21, 2021 - 11:10am

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The owner of Save-A-Lot at 45-47 Ellicott St., seeing the improvements his landlord was making to the downtown building, said he figured the time was right to create a “fresh, modern” look to the grocery store that will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in December.

“When we heard that Victor (VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc. President Victor Gautieri) was going to update the building -- putting apartments on top of the store -- we decided to extend our lease and renovate our location here,” said John Hedlund, a Niagara Falls resident and owner of five Save-A-Lot stores in Western New York,

“We put about $300,000 into it, giving it a fresh, modern feel; a new décor package and new life.”

So, while the Gautieri company was completing the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project that resulted in 10 market-rate apartments on the second floor (and continues to prepare another 18,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor), Hedlund went to work on updating the grocery store.

Hedlund, who is in a partnership with William Larson of Pennsylvania, the former owner of the Corfu IGA store, provided details of the changes while giving The Batavian a tour of the store earlier this week.

“We shortened up the hallway to the entrance of the store, and we’ve expanded our produce, meats, dairy and frozen food items throughout the store,” he said. “New windows on the front give it more of a grocery-store look, plus we’ve replaced a lot of equipment and we added new lighting and paint.”

In the grocery business for 44 of his 60 years, Hedlund said he likes Save-A-Lot’s new branding and signage, and is pleased with the results of his decision to shorten the aisles and add a center aisle.

“By doing this, it gives customers the opportunity to not be crowded in the aisles, so they have room to step aside and not be pushed around,” he said. “It just gives everyone more space. We’ve done this with all of our stores, and it really ended up being a positive thing for everyone.”

Hedlund owns Save-A-Lot stores in Le Roy (which underwent remodeling recently), Albion (which open three years ago), Salamanca (his first store, which also has been renovated) and his hometown of Niagara Falls.

The Batavia store consists of 18,000 square feet, with two-thirds of it as retail space, Hedlund said. He said that he hopes other businesses come to the location, noting that the increased traffic would help to offset the loss of the store’s “in and out” business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That and other factors such as a minimum wage increase and rising inflation have resulted in higher prices.

“Yes, we’re starting to see that, but we’re trying to maintain the retail pricing as low as possible,” he said. “We’re competitively priced … as we don’t have to carry a lot of items that just sit on the shelves and cost money. We look for terms and we have a lot of buying power through Save-A-Lot as they have 1,000 stores, so that keeps our costs down.”

A licensee, Hedlund said he is qualified to buy through Save-A-Lot and outside vendors, including produce from local farmers.

The store employs about 18 people, including two full-time butchers, a full-time produce manager and full-time operations manager.

“We fresh cut our meats every day and we also offer grab-and-go deli meats on a daily basis,” Hedlund said.

Hedlund said a four-day sales promotion each month will begin on Sept. 4.

“There will be hot sales on produce and meat selections for four days – Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – each month for a while,” he said. “We will be promoting that heavily.”

The store is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Previously (from December 2011): Entrepreneurs saw Batavia needed a grocery store downtown, so they opened one

Photo at top: Save-A-Lot owner John Hedlund next to the new produce display at the Ellicott Street grocery store. Photos at bottom: Expanded center aisle; grab-and-go deli section; frozen foods and dairy section; employee Corey McKenzie cashes out customer Gary Capuano of Batavia. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

April 21, 2021 - 4:13pm

Press release:

A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday May 4th at 5 p.m. to receive citizen and user input for the planned improvements at Jackson Square in Downtown Batavia.

The meeting for public input and engagement will be held outdoors in Jackson Square rain or shine. COVID-19 protocols will be followed.

On Oct. 6, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight transformational projects for Downtown Batavia as part of $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Enhancing Jackson Square was one of the eight projects chosen to receive a strategic investment grant of $750,000 to transform public space in a public plaza.

Jackson Square, a public gathering space bordered by historic buildings in the heart of downtown will be transformed with decorative pavement upgrades, a multilevel deck/stage, and seating, lighting, decorative signage.

The upgraded public plaza will become a lively hub and common space for community interaction, and provide connections to multiple businesses through its unique alleyway node configuration.

Architectural Resources, the architectural firm selected to design the projects, will be on hand to discuss the design elements and solicit feedback.

After a final design concept is approved the project will advance the development of construction documents and plans for bidding.

Currently, we anticipate the project to start construction this fall and be ready to host entertainment acts by next spring.

March 6, 2021 - 9:46am

A contract to execute a grant for $193,500 for the City of Batavia to secure engineering and other related services at the City Centre and Harvester (Avenue) campuses is “complete and ready for execution,” according to a memo to City Council from Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

In preparation for Monday night’s City Council sessions (a Special Conference Meeting followed by a Business Meeting) at City Hall Council Board Room, Tabelski updated Council on the Brownfield Opportunity Area Pre-Development Grant that the municipality applied for in July 2019.

The New York State Department of State awarded the grant to the city in December 2019 and now that contract awaits approval through the passing of a resolution on Monday’s agenda.

Tabelski’s memo indicates the grant will cover the majority of the project budget of $215,000, with the remainder coming from in-kind staff support from the city manager’s office, public works director, maintenance supervisor and the Batavia Development Corporation director.

Pre-development activities at both sites include preliminary engineering and architectural studies; legal and real estate services; zoning updates; marketing, and developer communication.

She wrote that the grant will set the stage for utilization of the $1 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative award to renovate the City Centre.

“This will include a full infrastructure review to accommodate more development on the campus, parking reviews, potential redesign of Bank Street … and a full Generic Environmental Impact Statement that will allow future pre-permitted development,” she wrote.

As for the Harvester Campus, engineering work will target potential site layouts, subdivision plans, and legal, real estate and demolition strategy and analysis.

“This work could allow a systematic redevelopment of the 23-acre site into a vibrant campus of commerce in the city,” she wrote.

Other resolutions to be considered at the meetings, include:

  • Adding the GLOW YMCA to the building space lease agreement with City Church at 114 Liberty St. if City Council approves, as anticipated, a resolution to enter into a contract with the YMCA to provide services for the city’s afterschool and summer recreation youth program beginning April 1.
  • Adopting the 2021-22 budget ordinance as well as a local law to establish new water rates, meter fees and a capital improvement fee.

As previously reported, the spending plan of $27.78 million ($16.855 million general fund) calls for an increase in the property tax rate of 14 cents per thousand of assessed value – from $9.59 to $9.73.

Water rates and meter fees would increase by 3.5 percent while capital improvement fees would go up by 10 percent.

  • Extending the lease agreement with Firland Management LLC to operate the Batavia Ice Rink through March 2023 with downward adjustments to the lease and rink capital improvement fund payments paid by Firland to the city.
  • Adopting the city’s police reform plan under the governor’s executive order No. 203, which mandated that localities with police departments assemble a stakeholder advisory group and develop policies and procedures that address “the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.”
  • While not official resolutions, approving requests for the Living Waters Apostolic Ministries’ community outreach on July 18 at Austin Park and the GLOW YMCA Corporate Cup 5K Run on Aug. 5 at Centennial Park.
February 18, 2021 - 5:53pm
Video Sponsor

Jackson Square DRI Public Input Meeting

February 10, 2021 - 11:09am

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The Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night is expected to act on a staff recommendation to approve a site plan submitted by the owner of a Jackson Street building to be renovated with support from the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The monthly meeting will take place via Zoom videoconferencing starting at 7 o’clock.

Jack Waggoner, of Corfu, is looking to change the exterior appearance of the structure that currently houses Gilliana’s Diner (41 Jackson St.) and Michael Anthony’s Hair Salon (43 Jackson St.) on the lower floor and five office units on the top floor.

Waggoner said that a law firm (Block, Longo, LaMarca and Brzezinski, P.C.) will be moving in next month to 39 Jackson St., which had been the site of Art Ah La Carte.

Proposed changes include building out storefront entrances flush to the face of the building, replacing windows, installing exterior down lighting on the face of the elevation, removing existing ridged canopy projections and installing new retractable fabric awnings.

Additionally, the project calls for the installation of a new aluminum-clad wooden door with transoms and side lights on the west and south elevations and new aluminum-clad wood storefronts with transom windows on the west and south elevations.

An architect’s rendering has signage with the name of the business above the retractable awnings, something that Waggoner said is a possibility.

Part of the Downtown Business Improvement District, the building is one of several to receive Building Improvement Fund assistance.

Andrew Maguire, director of economic development for the Batavia Development Corporation, said the project was awarded $100,000 of the $600,000 in BIF money available through the DRI. The BDC is charged with implementing, administering and executing this grant program, which mirrors the Homes and Community Renewal New York Main Street Grant program.

The building at 1 School St., home to Batavia Massage Therapy, is connected to the primary building and may see some improvements as well, Waggoner said.

“Not like the Jackson Street façade, but I’m still working on it – seeing how the budget works out. Possibly, do new doors over there and maybe some windows, but nothing spectacular there,” he said.

Following county planners' review, the referral will be considered by the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee at its Feb. 16 meeting.

Per the grant program, work on the building is subject to a competitive bidding process. Waggoner said he is in the process of contracting with an architectural firm and hopes to begin renovations in May.

The county planning department staff is recommending approval, noting that the exterior changes align with the city’s design guidelines.

Thursday’s agenda also includes the following referrals:

  • An area variance request submitted by The Daily News, 438 E. Main St., to have Signs by John’s Studio place a 4-foot by 40-foot non-illuminated pole sign identifying itself outside of the required 40- by 40-foot clear area for a corner lot at East Main and Harvester Avenue.

The referral will have to go before the City of Batavia Zoning Board of Appeals for area variances due to the fact that pole signs are not permitted in the Commercial C-1 district and the minimum vertical clearance under pole signs is 10 feet – not 2 feet as proposed.

Submitted documentation indicates that the sign will create no undesirable change in the district and is necessary because the building owner does not permit wall signs on the structure.

The planning department staff is recommending approval as the proposed sign should pose no significant countywide or intercommunity impact.

  • A site plan review and special use permit request Ryan Dewitt Oil Co. of Pearl Creek to place a car wash in a Commercial C-2 district at 13 Lake St. (Route 19) in Le Roy. Previously, it was the location of a gas station.

Planning department staff recommends approval as long as the applicant obtains a driveway permit from the New York State Department of Transportation for the change in use and merges the two parcels into one to avoid the need for variances.

  • A site plan review and area variance referral from Peter Yasses, of Byron, who is proposing to construct a self-storage unit on an acre parcel in a Commercial district on Byron Holley Road (Route 237), near Mill Pond Road.

Variances are needed to allow for less than minimums of lot size, frontage and depth, and front and side setbacks.

The planning staff recommends approval with modifications, which include Yasses obtaining a driveway permit from the state DOT for the change in use prior to final approval by the town, and installing on-site lighting so as to not shine directly onto neighboring properties or cause a hazard for motorists.

  • Zoning text amendments submitted by the Le Roy Village Board to include laundromats in Commercial C-1, Commercial C-2 and Industrial districts upon the issuance of a special use permit and to include business and professional offices to the list of permitted uses in an Industrial I-1 district.

Planning staff recommends approval of both amendments.

At top -- Architect's rendering of improvements planned for 39-43 Jackson St., Batavia.

January 28, 2021 - 12:05pm

Much along the lines of a circus juggler, Andrew Maguire is determined to keep the balls in the air as he tracks the many City of Batavia projects funded by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Building Improvement Fund and New York Main Street grant programs.

Maguire, director of economic development for the Batavia Development Corporation, went through his list of what he called “2021 milestone projects” and other irons in the fire during the agency’s monthly board meeting this morning via Zoom videoconferencing.

“There are a couple of big ones, obviously,” he said. “Ellicott Station (the mixed-use venture on the former Soccio & Della Penna and Santy’s Tire Sales property on Ellicott Street) is hopefully going to be beginning construction in early spring and projections for the Healthy Living Campus (YMCA project on East Main Street) are for the fall of 2021 to begin construction and demolition. Those two big ones alone should equate to almost $50 million of investment into the city.”

Maguire said he was confident that the City Centre Mall and Jackson Square projects also would commence construction this year, as well as Main Street 56 Theater (at the City Centre), 206 E. Main St. (Main Street Pizza Company building), 201 E. Main St. (GO ART!), 39-43 Jackson St. (corner building next to School Street), 97 Main St. (old Genesee Bank building) and 219 E. Main St. (Fieldstone Private Wealth - Ameriprise Financial Services).

“These are all projects that will run through our grant programs. So, they do have time frames they have to comply with so I’m pretty confident that all of these on this list will be moving to the construction phase in 2021 – which should yield over $50 million total investment through the grant funding program,” Maguire said.

He admitted the DRI process is “kind of tedious and relatively slow” but, again, said he expects the City Centre, Jackson Square, Ellicott Station and Healthy Living Campus “will all be hitting the ground running in 2021, which I’m excited about.”

Going down the list, Maguire reported the following:

  • 206 E. Main St. (Main Street Pizza Company building).

He said an asbestos survey was being done and that owner Paul Marchese is expected to finalize the design plan by early February. “As soon as I get my hands on it, it is going out the door to get bid out,” he said.

  • 242 Ellicott St. (corner of Liberty Street).

With a salon downstairs and two apartments upstairs, owners have completed the interior work and are waiting for the weather to break to do the façade work, Maguire said, adding that it should be done in early spring.

  • 99 Main St., (old Mane Attraction building, now a dental office).

“They’re getting some stuff cleaned out right now and hopefully we will see some big dumpsters in the near future,” Maguire said.

  • 109-111 Main St. (Eli Fish Brewing Company and restaurant).

The owners selected Whitney East as their preferred developer and it is going on to construction pretty soon, Maguire said.

  • 39-43 Jackson St. (just north of School Street).

Maguire said he is working with the City Planning & Development Committee to get the site plan on to the latter’s agenda, adding that it needs county planning approval as well.

  • 201 E. Main St. (GO ART!).

He said that GO ART! officials are working with a local lead paint tester to determine the extent of that potential issue.

  • 219 E. Main St. (Fieldstone - Ameriprise).

“We’re working through an environmental checklist there. Obviously, there was an adjacent dry cleaner years ago and that could require further environmental testing,” Maguire said.

  • 97 Main St. (old Genesee Bank building).

Maguire said the plans are top-notch, but won’t be delivered until after completion of State Historic Preservation Office testing.

  • 33-39 Ellicott St. (Batavia Tailors & Cleaners, Domino’s, DiMatteo law firm, Village Audiology).

The building owner (Batavia Tailors) will be contracting for façade work and heating/cooling work, and also is required to perform environmental testing, Maguire said.

In other action, the board:

  • Voted in favor of additional three-year terms for members Lori Aratari, Christine Fix, Nate Varland and Rebecca Cohen, and one-year appointments to the executive committee for Aratari, president; Wesley Bedford, vice president; Jake Whiting, secretary, and Cohen, treasurer.
  • Modified language in the Performance Evaluation Policy to include that a review of the director’s job performance will be conducted by the executive committee, not a “committee” as previously stated.
  • Learned from Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski that the agency’s financial reports, generated by the City of Batavia, won’t be converted to the city’s new software system until sometime in 2022. Varland requested some type of “financial health at a glance” report to make it easier to determine the BDC’s financial standing rather than having to look at multiple documents. Maguire offered to compile a “budget actual, which would be simpler format to look at” moving forward.
December 15, 2020 - 12:50pm

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Everything is coming together at the right time for the City of Batavia to embark on an ambitious revival of the City Centre Mall and surrounding area, according to Ed Flynn, director of planning for the consulting firm of LaBella Associates in Rochester.

“We think the stars are aligned at this point,” said Flynn, during a presentation at Monday night’s City Council meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room. “We’ve got the agreement in place, executed for the City Centre. We’ve got the $1 million in DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funding. And we’ve got a ton of other projects that are either in the pipeline or in the works downtown that are going to complement each other as they happen.”

Flynn, a Batavian, said LaBella Associates is the lead consultant for the state funded DRI project, working in conjunction with Underberg & Kessler LLP (legal) and Archer (graphic design).

An advisory committee also played a key role in pinpointing how the city will spend the $1 million, along with looking “at other things besides the mall property, and the mall building itself,” Flynn said.

Members of the advisory committee are Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, Public Works Director Matt Worth (recently retired), Water/Wastewater Superintendent Bill Davis, Batavia Development Corporation Director Andrew Maguire, City Council Member Jeremy Karas, Paul Gister of National Grid, Business Improvement District Director Beth Kemp, and Genesee County Economic Development Center President Steve Hyde.

The group’s proposal centered on creating a comprehensive package of information about the mall and the city – “getting that information into one place,” Flynn said – along with defining mall concourse improvements, providing cost estimates, exploring additional funding, reaching out to the public and stakeholders, preparing for future development and satisfying agreements with owners of businesses in the mall.

“We have been working to not only determine the best ways to use the resources of the $1 million DRI grant at City Centre, but also future components of what the interior of our City Centre Mall and the entire campus would look like,” Tabelski said.

Key points of Flynn’s presentation included a plan for concourse renovations and options for mall merchants to enhance the façades of their businesses.

It also brought to light a theoretical component outside of the scope of the DRI -- a three-story, 70,000-square-foot residential/commercial building on the east side of the mall at the corner of Alva Place and Bank Street, adjacent to where the proposed new police headquarters would go.

“That is conceptual based on the market,” Flynn said, adding that developers have inquired about opportunities for housing and, possibly, commercial ventures. “It’s a vision of what could work and what is deemed by the public as acceptable.”

Flynn said the DRI grant would just about cover the cost of concourse work, which would consist of removing and replacing the floor tile (which currently doesn’t match); painting walls, columns and crossbeams; installing low-level lighting, and removing and replacing the silo entryways “that never have been very attractive or functional.”

He noted that the city already has invested about $600,000 to repair the roof – a longtime problem, with that investment completing its DRI responsibility.

Private investment to upgrade individual storefronts (not a cost to the city) for mall business owners are optional, Flynn said, but incentives of up to 75 percent reimbursement may be available.

As far as Bank Street is concerned, Flynn said the mixed-use building has the potential to generate $19 million in private, new investment.

“Obviously, there would be a lot of tax revenue that would be created as part of that, but also with all of the new folks living downtown and some of the commercial activity – it would create a lot of vitality downtown and start to enclose Bank Street, which is pretty wide open right now,” Flynn said.

He also presented figures revealing that there will continue to be plenty of available parking – at least 590 spots -- even with the new building, when considering off-street parking lots and Alva Place and on-street parking.

“I think the takeaway from this is with the project, you’ll be able to satisfy both the DRI and the mall agreement objectives; also, be able to potentially develop some lots … at the City Centre and create some tax revenue … and also that you have enough funding to actually do what you need to do at the mall with the DRI funding,” he said.

At that point, Tabelski reminded Council members that one portion of the roof has yet to be completed – near Dan’s Tire Service – and bids for that work will go out this spring. That piece is part of the agreement between the city and mall merchants, she said.

Council Member John Canale asked about the Downtown Theatre 56 plan to complete its façade work with the DRI money it obtained, but Tabelski said the cost of all the interior work left no money for the outside renovations.

“Our intent is to look at a Main Street grant to complete that façade work,” she said.

In a related development, Council approved a resolution to apply, through the Batavia Development Corporation, for a New York Main Street grant for up to $500,000 to assist Theatre 56 with the completion of its project.

In a memo to City Council, Maguire outlined the BDC’s successful track record of obtaining Main Street, Anchor and Building Improvement Fund grants, and noted that matching funds for the Theatre 56 project would include money from the Batavia Players and its DRI.

Maguire, responding to a question from Council Member Rose Mary Christian about the return to the city in property and sales taxes, said he couldn’t provide an exact figure, but would research it and get back to the board.

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Renderings at top of the City Centre Mall entryways and concourse and rendering at bottom of a conceptual building on the Bank Street corridor, courtesy of LaBella Associates and the City of Batavia.

November 25, 2020 - 11:24am

It’s safe to say that Andrew Maguire, director of economic development for the Batavia Development Corporation, is thankful that several City of Batavia projects are progressing smoothly with the November holiday just one day away.

Maguire, at this morning’s BDC meeting via Zoom videoconferencing, updated the organization’s directors on the project tracking of four Building Improvement Fund ventures as well as three projects identified through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program.

Building Improvement Fund

  • 109-111 Main St., Eli Fish Brewing Co. building. Maguire said the project, which calls for construction of three third-floor apartments, went out to bid last week and is being vetted through contractors.

The project is receiving $137,600 of the $600,000 in Building Improvement Funds that the BDC was awarded via the DRI.

“Hopefully, we get some really good bids back next month or in January so Matt (Gray) can get started,” he said.

  • 206 E. Main St., Main Street Pizza Co. building. Maguire said the owner, Paul Marchese, is working with his architectural firm to finalize his designs.

“After that, we will run it through code and zoning to make sure there are no major issues. I’m hoping that can go out to bid in December sometime,” he said.

This project, which calls for two second-floor apartments in its initial phase, also qualified for $137,600 in Building Improvement Funds and another $75,000 through the New York Main Street grant program.

  • 242 Ellicott St., corner of Ellicott Street. Maguire said the work – rehabilitating a one-bedroom unit upstairs along with numerous exterior improvements – is almost done.

The project was awarded $27,200 in NYMS funds.

  • 39-43 Jackson St. (Art Ah La Carte, Gilliana’s Diner, Michael Anthony’s Hair Salon). Maguire said the project, which received $100,000 in BIF money, calls for façade work on the entire building and work on the roof as well.

“SBI (Single Burning Item) testing results came back – they were negative, as in positive, which is a good thing,” he said. “We wanted that to be negative so (the owner) doesn’t have any more hoops to jump through with ventilation systems and things of that nature. We will be working with the state to get plans finalized and get it out to bid.”

Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Maguire informed directors that the City Planning & Development Committee approved a redesign of the elevator shaft of the Ellicott Place (Save-A-Lot) project, design engineers are meeting frequently to finalize plans for the Healthy Living Campus (YMCA) and City Council expects to approve a design firm for the Jackson Square project next month.

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.

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