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Downtown Revitalization Initiative

April 23, 2020 - 12:30pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, bdc, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.


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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.


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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

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.


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.


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


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.





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.


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.


Eric Fix and Craig Yunker


Tom Turnbull


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.

December 15, 2017 - 11:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in downtown, Downtown Revitalization Initiative, batavia, news.


Local community members met in City Council Chambers last night to discuss and map out their ideas on how to improve Downtown Batavia.

The public meeting is part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $10 million state prize won by Batavia, to help make improvements to downtown.

Community members discussed options to help establish priorities for how the $10 million might be spent.

This was the first of three public meetings. The public will also be invited to offer their opinions through online surveys.

The meeting was facilitated by Edward Flynn, planning division director for Labella Associations in Rochester.





December 7, 2017 - 2:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Press release:

The first community meeting to gather public input on Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) will be held at City Hall, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Those in attendance will be provided with information on the DRI followed by a hands-on, interactive public workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to identify potential transformative redevelopment strategies that will provide long-term community and economic benefits for Downtown Batavia.

This is an opportunity for residents and businesses in the community to provide feedback and help plan the future of Downtown Batavia. The DRI Local Planning Committee would like to know what you love about Downtown Batavia, what draws you downtown today, and what amenities would bring you downtown more often.

This effort builds upon existing plans and projects, including the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan and the Batavia Opportunity Area Plan.

The workshop is the first in a series of three DRI public participation meetings that will be held over the next four months.

Future public meetings will focus on a review of the goals and strategies developed by the DRI Local Planning Committee as well as a review of potential projects. 

In October, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the City of Batavia will receive $10 million in funding and investments as the Finger Lakes winner of the second round of the DRI.

November 21, 2017 - 5:34pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Press release:

A meeting for those wishing to submit information on potential projects for Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative is scheduled for 2 p.m. next Tuesday (Nov. 28) at City Hall, One Batavia City Centre.

An update on the goals of the DRI will also be provided. Project information submittals are due Dec. 18.

Downtown business and property owners, developers, arts and cultural organizations, and anyone with an interest in investing in Downtown Batavia’s future are invited to attend.

For RFI forms, visit the City of Batavia’s website – www.batavianewyork.com.

November 15, 2017 - 2:16pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Downtown Revitalization Initiative, batavia, news, notify.

The first of many committee meetings to develop a plan for the city to put to use its $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award was held Tuesday evening at City Hall.

A group of 20 people representing different areas of the community were asked to be a part of the committee. Ed Flynn, a member of the Planning and Development Committee, said it is a cross section of the community, in terms of businesses, agencies and residents.

“This is an opportunity for the community,” Flynn said. “It is also a responsibility for the community. It’s a lot of money. That’s why we’re putting together a Strategic Investment Plan so that we have some kind of strategy to take that $10 million and make sure there is some kind of impact on the community.”

The six-month schedule for the plan is aggressive, Flynn said. There will be multiple committee meetings, and public meetings before the final draft is submitted.

“We need to push this and get it done by the end of March,” Flynn said.

Batavia was one of 10 communities awarded the $10 million as part of the statewide DRI competition. The goal of the grant is to transform downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers want to live, work and raise families. The winning communities are awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects to advance the community’s vision for revitalization.

“It’s not just jobs, it’s not just investments, it’s not just public spaces, it's all of those things together that create a vibrant downtown,” Flynn said.

Projects need to be submitted by Dec. 8 to be considered. Flynn said he will hold a Nov. 21 information session for business owners, nonprofit organizations, and others interested, who want to submit a proposal.

While not every idea submitted will be funded by the grant, Flynn said they will look at multiple projects for the 90-acre boundary in Batavia.

“There might be some other projects that we might recommend to not be funded by the grant,” Flynn said. “But they may be useful for the future revitalization of downtown Batavia, so we will keep them in the plan.”

Multiple projects for different places in the community were introduced for Theater 56, Jackson Square, the City Center, and the Masonic Temple.

Projects on the plan should fall into one of four categories: Public improvements, significant private development projects, revolving loans and grants, and branding and marketing.

On Batavia’s application, the project will focus on arts, culture and entertainment, healthy living and wellness, and prosperity for all. The committee members discussed goals they would like to stick to decide what to focus on when choosing projects.

Steve Hyde, the president and chief executive officer of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said the focus should not be on what will create jobs. 

“What we want is to make these investments to create vibrant spaces and vibrant places,” Hyde said.  “If we can make those investments to do that, the jobs will follow.”

After editing the original vision statement, the committee decided the new statement is, “Batavia is all-in to reshape its urban core by embracing and building upon its rich entrepreneurial history, fostering cultural appreciation and creating a healthy, vibrant community to benefit all.”

Erica O'Donnell, a resident in Batavia, said she is one of those "terrible Millennials," but she would like to see more projects to attract young families with children. 

"We have a unique opportunity, being between Buffalo and Rochester, to draw Millennials here," O'Donnell said. 

The next public meeting has not been scheduled yet but will be posted on the Batavia Downtown Revitalization website along with other updates, here.

November 13, 2017 - 9:18pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The road to craft projects in connection with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative – a “fast track” that leads to the governor’s office in Albany, according to City Manager Jason Molino -- begins in earnest at 4 p.m. Tuesday when a 23-member Local Planning Committee convenes in the Council Board Room at City Hall.

A “who’s who” of City and Genesee County officials along with civic leaders, business owners and agency executives, comprises the LPC, which has the task of appropriating the $10 million that was awarded to the City of Batavia as the winner of the Finger Lakes Region competition.

Eugene Jankowski, City Council president; Steve Hyde, Genesee County Economic Development Center president, and Maria Figurele, executive director, Community Design Center of Rochester, an architecture/design company,.are serving as committee co-chairs.

Members of the committee 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, GCEDC chair;
-- Mary Valle, owner, Valle Jewelers;
-- Rev. Marty Macdonald, City Church;
-- John Bookmiller, owner, Java Farm Supply;
-- Dan Ireland, president, United Memorial Medical Center.

The program is administered by the New York State Department of State in coordination with the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal.

The meeting is open to public and persons attending will have an opportunity to speak at the end of the meeting, which is scheduled to end around 6 p.m.

Recommendations are expected to be sent to Albany by February 2018.

September 19, 2017 - 11:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Downtown Revitalization Initiative, news, notify.

Local officials are being invited to Batavia City Hall at 1:30 p.m. Thursday where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to make an announcement.

What Cuomo will announce is not revealed in the invitation, but the City of Batavia did submit an application to Cuomo's office for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative contest, which carries a $10 million award for one municipality in each of the state's economic development regions.

While winners have been announced in other regions, the winner of the contest in the Finger Lakes region has not yet been announced.

Local officials cannot discuss the reason for Cuomo's visit.

June 20, 2017 - 9:22am
posted by Mike Pettinella in city of batavia, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The City of Batavia is "ready to roll" out its presentation to a selection committee after receiving the news that it, once again, has reached the finalist stage in an Empire State Development Downtown Revitalization Initiative competition.

"We're ready to roll," said City Manager Jason Molino this morning, revealing that five city leaders will be representing Batavia on Thursday afternoon in downtown Rochester. "We will make a half-hour presentation, followed by 15 minutes of questions."

Molino said Batavia's presentation will focus on the 88-acre Business Improvement District in three distinct categories:

• Arts, culture & entertainment.

• Healthy living & wellness.

• Prosperity for all.

"It's all about creativity and innovation ... ways to enhance the quality of life," he said.

Molino said the fact that the city has just come through a 15-month Comprehensive Planning process should bolster its chances.

"We had a lot of community input during this time, which has helped develop our process," he said.

At Thursday's interview, Molino will be joined by City Council President Eugene Jankowski, BID Director Beth Kemp, City School Board President Patrick Burk and Batavia Development Corporation Coordinator Julie Pacatte.

Molino said he wasn't aware of what other three cities are finalists but did say that officials of those communities also would be presenting on Thursday.

Word that Batavia is one of four finalists spread quickly this morning. The Batavian found out via a message on Twitter this from City Councilman Adam Tabelski, 

"This is certainly great news for the community -- to be a finalist again," Tabelski said..

City officials filed the formal application for the $10 million award last week.

In 2016, the City of Batavia was a finalist from the Finger Lakes Region but eventually lost out to Geneva.

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