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January 17, 2015 - 1:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

In the craft business since 1998, Andre Gliwski Jr. thinks it's time to settle down.

Rather than setting up a booth at a different community festival each weekend, Gilwski has opened a craft store in Downtown Batavia, at 220 E. Main St. and is hosting an open house this Friday and Saturday.

Working out of a single location isn't just a better lifestyle for a young father (Gilwski and his wife have children ages 1 and 2), it's better for building relationships with customers.

"You have a better following when they know where you're at rather than trying to chase you down," Gilwski said.

Currently his shop, A.J.'s Crafts, stocks only items that he has made, or his mother or wife have made.

Among the kind of things Gilwski enjoys making are jewelry, clothes, blankets, bean bags, hair stretchies, catnip toys, tooth-fairy pillows and scarves.

He said he can make or have made pretty much any custom item a buyer might want.

His mother has been slowed by arthritis, but there's a table in the store filled with her handmade needlework items.

Gilwski's wife also makes jewelry and helps with some of the product finishes on Gilwski's work.

"I like crafts because they're all handmade and not made in other countries," Gilwski said. "It's something I enjoy doing and I enjoy the look on a customer's face when they buy something I've made. It's something different than what you'll see at Walmart or Kmart or some other Big Box store."

January 13, 2015 - 6:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, mall, city centre, genesee country mall.

There was a degree of frustration on all sides in council chambers Monday night over the long-simmering dispute over the state of the downtown mall after a resident raised the issue during public comments.

Some council members initially joined in the call of Richard Richmond to have the state's comptroller's office audit the city's legal fees associated with the city's dispute and the current lawsuit with the Mall Merchants Association.

Molino noted, however, that the city was audited last year and no irregularities related to legal bills were found.

He also asked what the goal of such an audit would be. The legal fees are public record and have been released before.

Richmond said he would like to see an itemized list of attorney fees for the mall, even suggesting audio go back six years to check for any inadvertent double billing.

The city's financial statements are scrutinized every year by an independent accountant, Molino told the council, and "they report any fraud or inconsistencies."

There have been no such reports.

Last year, resident John Roach issued a public records request and received documents showing the city's legal fees related to mall litigation, but some material was redacted if it could reveal information covered by attorney-client privilege. 

An audit, Molino suggested, would not necessarily uncover the kind of information perhaps some think it might.

"The comptroller is not going to provide you with guidance on what you pay for what services," Molino said. "They're not going to come in and tell you you're paying too much for police services, you're paying too much for fire services or you're paying too much for this."

Council members such as John Deleo expressed concern about how much was being spent on mall litigation and compared the years-long conflict with the mall association to a messy divorce that has gone on too long.

More than just the legal fees, perhaps, Deleo said, "people are concerned about the mall and the 57 buckets and how long does this divorce will go on."

After the meeting, Molino hinted at his own frustration with five or six years of disputes over the mall, but also expressed hope that a once-and-for-all solution can be reached during legal negotiations.

The condition of the mall and the disputes over the mall create a perception problem, Molino said, that could hold back redevelopment and brownfield development.

"It does not help the long-term success of the city nor the long-term success of the businesses and the redevelopment potential downtown, so, yes, it does hurt," Molino said. "It hurts everybody. I think everybody's business involved is going to benefit when it's resolved, and the city as a whole, and the community, will be able to get through this, and I hope it's a milestone that we can get past and say we were able to get past that hurdle."

There is an openness, Molino believes, to finding a solution to the disputes that led to the lawsuit, the involves negotiation and not further litigation.

"I think both parties want to resolve this issue and it's just a matter of coming together to find common ground that is going to meet everybody's needs," Molino said.

December 30, 2014 - 2:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, The Yngodess Shop.

The family of Samuel J. Caito placed a memorial today to the former liquor store owner in front of the YNGodess Shop on Main Street, Downtown Batavia, the location of his former shop.

His father, Augustino, opened the store right after the end of Prohibition in 1933. It was the first post-prohibition liquor store in Batavia.

Samuel owned the store until 1985.

He was also a teacher at Notre Dame and Batavia Middle School.

Click here for his full obituary.

December 29, 2014 - 5:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bataiva, downtown, housing.

Sometime soon after the first of the year, Vito Gautieri expects to get word from at least one bank on funding for his planned apartment complex atop of Save-A-Lot at 45-47 Ellicott St. in the City of Batavia.

Gautieri is planning a four-story structure with 30 quality apartments with rents ranging from $800 to $1,100 per month.

He expects to begin construction on the "Casa Mia" complex in February. Completion will depend on arrangements with another contractor, but could come as early as the Winter of 2015.

"It’s a nice project and we’re working like mad on it to see if we can get it going as soon as the financing is done," Gautieri said.

If it comes through, Casa Mia will be a nice boost for the Downtown economy, said Julie Pacatte, coordinator of the Batavia Development Corp.

"Our marketing reports have told us there is a need for quality, urban housing in Downtown Batavia," Pacatte said. "There is a boom in Rochester and they're taking full advantage of the demand from millennials and empty-nesters for more quality apartments. We're excited about it. It brings more disposable income Downtown, more shoppers, more diners, which is what we're looking for."

Gautieri has not applied for any financial assistance from the BDC nor the GCEDC, he said, though he may seek a tax break through the city's 485(A) program.

The BDC has worked to spur development of several apartments on Jackson Street and Jackson Square, all in the $800 to $1,000 per month price range, and every unit was rented as soon as it hit the market.

That, and the marketing studies, gives Gautieri a high degree of confidence that his 30 units will fill up quickly.

"There's a lot of advantages to living downtown for young people and the elderly," Gautieri said. "It will be a good compliment to the Save-A-Lot and within walking distance you've got seven or eight restaurants. That should really make it attractive for people."

He anticipates from 70 to 80 people, including children, will live in the apartments.

Sav-A-Lot occupies only half of Gautieri's property there. He's been unable to find businesses willing to rent the other half of the building, so he's planning to convert that space into covered parking -- 32 spaces -- for the residents of the apartments.

The building was originally constructed by Gautieri for Montgomery Ward and the second floor was intended to be a warehouse, so it was engineered to hold a lot of weight.  

That construction is what enables Gautieri to now add two more floors of apartments.

The second floor will be flats. As soon as funding is approved, crews will get busy opening windows and erecting interior walls.

Gautieri is negotiating with companies in Buffalo and Clifton Springs for pre-fab apartments for the planned third and fourth floors.

If an appropriate deal can be brokered, he anticipates finishing the project by the end of next year.

If his own crews have to build the structure, then it will take well into 2016 to finish.

The apartments on the fourth floor -- Gautieri doesn't call them penthouses, "there are no penthouses in Batavia," he said with a chuckle -- will rent at the higher rates, but the first tenants will be able to customize their spaces.

The project is exciting, even if the BDC isn't directly involved, Pacatte said, because more people living Downtown will drive economic growth, help fill retail spaces and bring in more people.

Studies show that each downtown housing unit drives $19,000 in demand for retail goods and services.

"Investment into Downtown that responds to the market findings will be another win for our efforts toward community renewal," Pacatte said. "The Jackson Street owner investments in recent years have already proven successful -- reaching 100-percent occupancy within weeks of becoming available."

The Ellicott Street project isn't Gautieri's only apartment plan Downtown. He's also planning a project for his property at 45 Liberty St.

The project will consist of small, single-occupant apartments aimed at young people just starting out in life or elder people on fixed incomes with minimal residential needs.  

"There's companies doing some of these in Rochester and they're rented before they even start construction," Gautieri said.

He's also planning to convert one of his office buildings on Liberty, where he already operates storage units, into storage units.

December 26, 2014 - 9:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown.

Karen's Yarn, Paper, Scissors, at 39 Jackson St., Batavia, won this year's window decorating contest sponsored by the Business Improvement District. The business receives a $250 cash prize.

Second place was WBTA, 113 Main St., and The Insurance Center, 50 Main St.

The judges were impressed not only with the creativity of Karen's display, but the use of paper, which is, of course, related to her business.

December 10, 2014 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, weather.

The predicted snowfall for this morning didn't really materialize, but it's coming down pretty good right now, with a prediction of up to two inches by 7 p.m.

Here's 60 seconds of what it was looking like at Main and Center a few minutes ago:

December 6, 2014 - 7:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, Christmas in the City.

Hundreds of people lined Main Street in Downtown Batavia on Friday night for the Christmas parade that was the highlight of a successful Christmas in the City for 2014.

To purchase prints, click here.

December 4, 2014 - 5:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, BID, Christmas in the City.

City workers were busy with tasks Downtown today getting things ready for Christmas in the City tomorrow evening, including making sure the snowflakes on the light poles are ready to illuminate correctly.

Tomorrow's events:

4 to 8 p.m., Photos with Santa
97 Main St.

Lighting of Downtown Christmas Tree, 5 p.m.

Horse and Wagon Rides ($1), 5 to 9 p.m.
Tickets available at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle, 8 Center St. Proceeds benefit the Business Improvement District.

Trolley Rides to the Wonderland of Trees at the Holland Land Office Museum, 5 to 9 p.m.
Jackson Street Parking Lot (across from Valle Jewelers)
Trolley will continue throughout the night to bring people back and forth to the museum and Jackson Street parking lot. Trolley runs approximately every 15 minutes. The Holland Land Office Museum (HLOM) will be offering free refreshments for the event as well as gift baskets and discount sales in the gift shop.

GO ART!, Frosted Panes exhibit
The Genesee Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO ART!) is pleased to announce its annual holiday show on exhibit through Dec. 19th in Batavia. This year's theme, "Frosted Panes," exhibits 43 pieces by 14 local artists on display in two GO ART Galleries -- the GO ART! Main Gallery in Seymour Place and at the Genesee County Senior Center on Bank Street.
A FREE Meet-the-Artists Reception will be held in conjunction with Batavia's Christmas in the City.

Batavia Concert Band, 6 p.m., City Centre

Holiday Parade, 6:30 p.m.
Parade will take place on Main Street starting at Liberty Street and ending at Jackson Street. More than 40 participants will entertain you with music, floats, singing, a juggler, fire trucks, and more! Santa will choose a child from his "Nice List" to ride with him in the Horse & Wagon!

The following Downtown businesses will be hosting special events as well:

Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle -- 8 Center St.; Enjoy holiday specials, drawing/prizes, coupons, and their famous chili during the Christmas in the City festivities. Tickets for the Horse & Wagon rides may purchased inside of Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle. For questions, call (585) 343-0548.

Amy's Fluffy Friends -- 238 Ellicott St.; Have your pet's photo or group photos taken by Along Photography. Only $5 for a photo shoot! Amy's will also be offering a raffle with doggie treats. For questions, call (585) 343-0052.

Charles Men's Shop -- 200 E. Main St.; Stay warm and enjoy holiday discounts and warm refreshments! For questions, call (585) 343-2086.

City Slickers -- 59 Main St.; Celebrate the season with City Slickers' awesome deal with a Buy 1 Entree, Get the 2nd at Half Price. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a local band playing for the evening. Be sure to also purchase your "Dinner & a Movie" gift certificates as stocking stuffers! For questions, call (585) 345-6788.

Edward Jones -- 7 Jackson St.; Get out of the cold for a little while and enjoy a hot drink and cookies courtesy of Edward Jones. For questions, call (585) 345-1773.

Karen's Yarn, Paper, Scissors -- 39 Jackson St.; 10% holiday discounts on scrapbook paper and yarn! After the parade, stop by Karen's to get a free balloon animal courtesy of Jason the Juggler.

Marchese Computer -- 220 Ellicott St.; With coupons and refreshments, learn more about their holiday specials including computers starting at $349.99! For questions, call (585) 343-2713.

Sweet Pea's Cupcakery Cafe -- 23 Jackson St.; Offering free samples of cookies. Perhaps you'll want to come back to purchase some for Santa for Christmas Eve? For questions, call (585) 344-5627.

T-Shirts, Etc. -- 111 Main St.; T-shirt coloring for kids! Holiday specials include a Buy One, Get One at 50% off. Also, be sure to visit their guest vendor, Butterfly Studio. For questions, call (585) 345-1993.

UMTOO -- 317 Ellicott St.; Will be open until 9 p.m. and will have Christmas refreshments, Christmas stories (traditional and historical), and Christmas songs by local singers who will engage people to join in singing. For questions, call (585) 993-2325.

Valle Jewelers -- 21 Jackson St.; Will be offering holiday specials for that evening only. For questions, call (585) 343-3372. 

December 2, 2014 - 6:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

Local artist Brandi Bruggman this week is recreating two Christmas works by Norman Rockwell on the windows of Steve Hawley's Insurance Center on Main Street. The festive windows will be among those Downtown displays in the BID's annual Christmas window display contest.

October 4, 2014 - 11:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, wine walk.

Once a little rain passed through and the sun came out, it was a beautiful Saturday evening for a wine walk in Downtown Batavia.

To purchase prints, click here.

August 15, 2014 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, Summer in the City.

Preperations are under way for tomorrows Summer in the City in Downtown Batavia.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and includes live music, food, vendors and classic cars.

Come on out, have some fun, and wear your T-shirt from The Batavian.

Photographer Amanda Earl captured some shots late this afternoon of the BID's Don Burkel, Laurie Oltramari and Jeff Gillard as they marked off vendor booth space on Main Street.

August 14, 2014 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, Summer in the City.

Summer in the City is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Here's the notice of streat closures for the day:

Streets closed (barricades) at 7:30 a.m.:  Main, Bank, Center, School, Jackson, Court & Jefferson:

Bank at Washington (For Race Only)
Bank at Alva
Main at Upton Monument
Main at Liberty / Summit
Jackson at Ellicott
Center at School
Court at Ellicott  / Parking Lot Entrances /Bank Drive-Thru
Jefferson at Intersection Tonawanda Valley & Wendy’s Parking Lots
Wendy’s -- Main Street Entrance

Main Stage: Will be located in front of Wendy’s / County Building #1 on Main Street facing east. Entertainment begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m.

Vendors: Crafters and nonprofits & KidsZone located on Main, Court & Jefferson. Food vendors will be on the north side of Main Street from in front of Larry’s Steakhouse, west to corner of Main & Jefferson. Commercial vendors on the south side of Main Street from corner of Court to Center Street. BID Businesses south side from Jackson to Center Street.

Super Cruise: Vehicles will be on the north side of Main Street from Jackson Street, east to Liberty / Summit, and the south side from Center to Liberty Street. They will also be on Jackson, School & Center streets and a segment of Bank Street.

Donny Carroll 5K Race: Start/ Finish line will be at the entrance of Bank of America Drive-Thru.  The race starts at 9 a.m. and ends finishes by 10:30 a.m.

Access To Parking Lots:  Court / Jackson access off of Ellicott Street;
                                            Alva access off of Alva Place & Bank Street (after 5K Race
                                            ends at 10:30 a.m.);
                                           Center Street access off of School Street

Reopen streets at 11 p.m.

August 10, 2014 - 2:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in downtown, Vibrant Batavia.

Among the artists painting fire hydrants Downtown this weekend as part of a Vibrant Batavia project was Brian Kemp, co-owner of T-Shirts Etc. Kemp painted the hydrant in front of the Key Bank location.

Photos by Amanda Earl.

August 4, 2014 - 2:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, downtown, Vibrant Batavia.

Local artist Brandi Bruggman has been comissioned by Vibrant Batavia to paint two of the fire hydrants downtown. Here she paints the one at Main and Bank, in front of Seymour Place (GO ART!). She said this hydrant will have a colorful paisley design on it. Her other hydrant will be painted like a lighthouse.  

Below, a hydrant on Center Street completed by another artist.

UPDATE: Amanda Earl submitted these photos of Brandi's hydrants from later in the day.

July 29, 2014 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, Google.

If you saw a couple of guys with cameras on tripods this morning on Main Street, they are Drew and Adam Hilker, who are contractors with Google traveling the state shooting pictures for an updated street view map on Google Maps.

The new street view is intended to provide more detail in business districts, such as Downtown Batavia.

July 6, 2014 - 12:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, Ramble Music & Arts Fest.

It would be impossible to get better conditions for an outdoor music festival than the blue skies, mild temperature and gentle breeze we experienced in Batavia on Saturday.

Two stages jammed with tunes and hundreds of music fans turned out for the annual event.

Sue Cappiello Copp and Anne Crotzer were collecting donations in support of Paul Tydelski, a local business and music booster, who has been ill.  The guitar, signed by Ramble musicians, was donated by Roxy's Music and will be given to Tydelski as a gift.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

July 2, 2014 - 6:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Carr's.

There was an open house this afternoon for the new mixed-use complex in Jackson Square.  

The former Carr's Department Store Warehouse is now four apartments and a downstairs office space.

One of the apartments is already rented. Thermory, a company that installs thermo-treated wood decks, has moved into the office space.

The building was purchased by developer Paul Thompson and partners, who invested more than $500,000 of their own money as well as leveraged $115,000 in state grants to complete the conversion project.

Features of the building include exposed original beams, industrial-grade wood floors and brick walls.

June 27, 2014 - 11:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, Jackson Square, music, entertainment.

The annual Jackson Square concert series kicked off Friday night with a return engagement by Stone Row, who first played the series nine years ago.

The electrified Irish band entertained the crowd with traditional and contemporary numbers.

Opening the show was a string quartet from the Genesee Symphony Orchestra playing traditional Irish tunes.

For a line-up of this summer's shows, click here.

June 21, 2014 - 7:39am

The Ghost Riders and the Ghost Riders Drum and Bugle Corps put on a unique show Friday night on Main Street.

The bands performed right on the sidewalk next to Larry's Steakhouse (the show's sponsor) and music fans, maybe about 300 hundred of them, gathered around standing or finding seating as best they could.

The music was great, of course.

The Ghost Rider's great pedal steel player Jimmy "Steel" Duvall.

June 20, 2014 - 3:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Tompkins Insurance.

When workers from Tompkins Insurance move into their new second-floor offices at Main and Center, they will have Doug Rebmann to thank for the bit of extra sunlight spilling into their space.

Rebmann has been working this week cutting through masonry to create two new window openings as part of extensive renovations to the second floor.

Tompkins expects to move its customer service center to the location in mid-September.

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