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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.

October 2, 2018 - 2:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dri, downtown, business, batavia.

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Press release:

The City of Batavia is advancing the Downtown Revitalization (DRI) Initiative to create a vibrant sustainable city that is inclusive of all ages and socioeconomic situations. The $10 million DRI funding investment will be concentrated in the downtown area and eight priority projects are moving forward. The $10 million DRI will have a direct return of $60 million of private investment into the community.

"City Council has ramped up engagement of our community and businesses over the last few years with the Batavia Opportunity Area planning, the Comprehensive Plan and the DRI," said Eugene Jankowski, City of Batavia Council president. "We're now ready to move into the implementation stage with the DRI projects and onward with our vision for a better Batavia."

The Governor’s DRI competition is in the third year. The program fosters transformative projects in downtown neighborhoods. Here in Batavia eight projects were selected for funding including: the YMCA Healthy Living Campus; The Mall; Jackson Square; Ellicott Station; Carr’s; Harvester 56 Theater; a Building Improvement Fund; and Ellicott Place (Save-A-Lot building).

“Each of these projects is critical to the success of Batavia as a place that encourages arts, culture and entertainment, healthy living, and prosperity for all,” said Matt Worth, interim city manager. “The city will be working hard to execute on the Mall and Jackson Square projects and assisting the other winners in the process."

There are parts of Batavia that are designated as highly distressed with higher than average unemployment and poverty. However, the DRI, combined with the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2), a program to reinvest PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) payments from all taxing jurisdictions directly into highly distressed areas, will help to combat poverty and revitalize brownfield sites. These programs offer a long-term solution to reduce blight, build the economy, and provide prosperity for all.

The DRI project investments will bring immediate change that you will be able to see and feel within the next year to five years. Grant winners will be working with state agencies soon to enter into formal grant agreements. The Batavia Development Corporation is hopeful that the $600,000 Building Improvement Fund "applications to property owners" will be ready in the late fall.

The grant will reimburse up to 60 percent of a project, and awards will range from $10,000 to $200,000, with eligible activities including facades, window/ door repair and replacement, painting, masonry repair, awnings, building signs, exterior lighting, storefront upgrades, roofs, and interior upgrades (heating, plumbing, electrical, walls, floors).

Rachael Tabelski, director of Economic Development of the BDC said, “The BDC is excited to get moving with Building Improvement Fund grant program. As soon as the state contracts are signed we will be able to communicate the terms and application process with property owners in the BID. We will be reaching out with direct mail, email, and public meetings.”

Beth Kemp, director of the Downtown Batavia Improvement District said, “As director of the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) and having three of the City’s five brownfield sites within our downtown, we are committed to vision and strategy of making Batavia a more vibrant downtown."

Bob Bausch, chairman of the Genesee County Legislature said, “The DRI funding, combined with the other initiatives of the City and the County’s economic development agencies will continue to have long-lasting positive results for our community. The County continues to support economic development and private sector investment.”

Patrick Burk, Batavia City School Board president said, “At the school we are working hard to link kids with careers including STEM, trades, agriculture and other industries that are growing in the Finger Lakes, but we still have a dire number of students living in poverty and walking by brownfield sites every day. We understand and support the value of getting our downtown aligned as a safe friendly place for students to live and play.”

Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said “The Governor’s DRI competition gives Batavia an amazing opportunity to grow quickly and meet the needs and the demands that the development community will soon be putting on the city as the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP) starts its build-out. As a City of Batavia resident, I could not be more thrilled to be a part of the resurgence in Batavia and across our community. The creative class that will be attracted to WNY STAMP will demand city living with arts, culture and entertainment.”

July 11, 2018 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, dri, downtown redevelopment, business, news, notify.

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Steve Hyde, CEO of the GCEDC and co-chair of the DRI Local Planning Committee, Rachel Tabelski, new director of the Batavia Development Corp., Pat Burk, director of Batavia Players, Beth Kemp, director of the Business Improvement District, and Matt Worth, interim city manager.

Statement from Rachel Tabelski:

“Batavia is thrilled to see the announcement of the DRI projects today, and we want to thank Governor Cuomo and his administration for their support. The DRI funding will continue to transform Downtown Batavia into a vibrant center of business, dinning, shopping and entertainment.  The three guiding principals of the DRI included healthy living, arts and entertainment, and prosperity for all which will be achieved through these projects. The Batavia Development Corporation is ready to assist, not just the projects that were funded, but to work with the projects that were not selected to help them move forward,” said Rachael Tabelski, director of Economic Development for the Batavia Development Corporation.

UPDATE, statement by Assemblyman Steve Hawley: 

“I am overjoyed with the City of Batavia receiving this $10 million grant from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative award. These investments in Downtown Batavia will help create new development, turn public space into valuable community uses, and improve delivery of local healthcare. It will go an immensely long way to revitalize Batavia’s business district, increase downtown housing and retain and attract jobs, and employers locally,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia).

Press release the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced eight transformational projects for Batavia as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award.

The strategic investments in downtown Batavia will help to drive new, mixed-use development, improve access to local healthcare, and transform public space for community use. The investments are part of the Governor's ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities for the Finger Lakes.

"Through smart investments and sustainable development, we are transforming Batavia's downtown and generating prosperity throughout Western New York," Governor Cuomo said. "These projects will help to not only preserve Batavia's rich history and character, but they will enhance the city as a destination and act as an engine for future growth for the entire region."

Batavia was named a DRI Round 2 winner in October. 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 eight specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:

1) Create a Thriving Residential and Commercial Hub on the site of the former Della Penna property by constructing a new mixed-use development on the vacant and abandoned industrial brownfield. The new Ellicott Station will contain mixed-income residential units, four commercial spaces, and a brewery/restaurant and will leverage more than $20 million dollars in grants and private investment, become a thriving residential/commercial anchor for downtown Batavia. ($425,000)

2) Rehabilitate the Former Genesee Bank and the Carr's Department Store Buildings for Mixed-Used Redevelopment. The first floor of the buildings, which have been vacant for more than five years, will be renovated for commercial uses, including a new cidery/café and retail and office incubator space. New mixed-income upper-floor residential units on the upper floors will provide additional housing options for downtown residents. ($1,000,000)

3) Establish Ellicott Place as New Mixed-Use Gateway to Downtown by renovating a large, underused building at a prominent location on Ellicott Street to include three first-floor commercial spaces, first-floor covered parking, and 10 upper-floor residential units. A new elevator and facade upgrades will improve access and instill community pride in a previously chronically vacant space. The redevelopment of this 48,121-square-foot building will complement the nearby Ellicott Station project and establish a new gateway to the downtown. ($1,150,000)

4) Develop an Intergenerational Healthy Living Campus in the Heart of Downtown, including a new home for the Genesee Area YMCA. The centrally located facility will include a 55,000- to 60,000-square-foot building and parking for 300 cars. Together with a complementary medical building planned for the site of the former YMCA building, the project is expected to generate 3,000 visits downtown daily. ($4,075,000)

5) Establish a New Regional Performing Arts Center at Batavia City Centre by renovating the façade and interior of the city-owned building. The new visually prominent and centrally located downtown theater will feature space for offices, concessions, retail, and a dance academy, and will augment nightlife and weekend activity. ($700,000)

6) Support Downtown Building Improvements by creating a Building Improvement Fund that will provide grants to assist downtown property owners to undertake both interior and exterior renovations. Building improvements will enhance the aesthetics and livability of the downtown core and provide opportunities for new entrepreneurs to establish their businesses. ($600,000)

7) Transform City Centre into an Indoor Market and Performance Space by upgrading the concourse and entrances to accommodate an indoor marketplace with micro-retail kiosks and public performance space to hold community events. Improvements will include flooring, lighting, entrance structures, wall color, and roof upgrades. ($1,000,000)

8) Enhance Jackson Square, a public gathering space bordered by historic buildings in the heart of downtown, with decorative pavement upgrades, a multi-level deck/stage, seating, lighting, decorative signage, a networking nook, and landscaping. 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. ($750,000)

"Growing the downtown core of the City of Batavia is an important part of our Finger Lakes Forward initiative," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Batavia is at the heart of a growing and diverse regional economy in Upstate New York.

"From the arts, to agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and entrepreneurial startup companies, great things are happening in Batavia and across the region. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects announced today will foster more growth throughout Batavia's central business district, creating jobs and transforming this historic part of Genesee County."

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The City of Batavia will see great benefit from these investments, and we are excited to see these plans come to fruition. Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative is an effective way to bring transformative growth to communities across the state while bringing out our collective competitive spirit."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Projects in Batavia supported through the DRI will help create an inviting, engaging downtown that will encourage investments and growth in new businesses, and quality of life improvements for its residents and visitors."

NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Through Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative, these community-led, targeted investments will combine with HCR's $379 million investment in the Finger Lakes over the last seven years that has created affordable housing for about 12,200 residents to help ensure that as Batavia's economy grows, all New Yorkers have the opportunity to take part. In New York State, we are lucky to have a Governor who understands how to build inclusive, long-term economic success."

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer said, "This first part of $10 million in state investment will help revitalize our local neighborhoods and move our Upstate economy forward. Each one of these eight transformational projects will take downtown Batavia to the next level."

Eugene Jankowski Jr., Batavia City Council president, said, "Today's announcement of Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative is exciting news for the City of Batavia and our downtown district. We are thrilled for the projects that were chosen and the City will be ready to assist them move forward. We are also dedicated to work with all the project owners that applied to the DRI, but did not receive funding to help them succeed in their plans here in Batavia. In all, the DRI investment could yield over $40 million in private investment directly into the downtown core of our city and that will bring prosperity to all."

Intermim Batavia City Manager Matthew Worth said, "The City of Batavia is very excited by the DRI announcement and for this investment into its downtown. These projects will be an infusion of activity into Batavia's downtown that will give momentum for additional projects to move forward. The City is prepared to partner with the Batavia Development Corporation and the Genesee County Economic Development Corporation to assist any and all proposed projects. The City is grateful to the Governor's office to have been included in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Congratulations to the award recipients!"

Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center and Batavia DRI Local Planning Committee co-chair, said, "Through a collaborative process, we have identified various private and public projects that have been vetted publicly. We are confident these projects will further our mission of growing our economy and revitalizing our urban core as peacemaking and downtown redevelopment is such a critical piece of today's live, work and play models required by our multi-generational community.

"These projects will be a catalyst for future private sector investments as we continue our collaborative efforts to redevelop the city of Batavia. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his vision to invest in placemaking and downtown revitalization across New York and for his confidence in Batavia and Genesee County's enabling its continued growth and redevelopment."

Finger Lakes Forward

Under the Finger Lakes Forward initiative, the State is investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion -- and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The public market also got 16, with six red.

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

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

Ellicott Place received 10 stickers, four red.

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

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

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

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

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November 9, 2017 - 11:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in dri, downtown, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Local Planning Committee (LPC) will hold a meeting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at City Hall in the Council Board Room, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia.

The City was awarded a $10 million DRI award from the State of New York to advance downtown revitalization and this is the first LPC meeting to introduce the DRI program, LPC members and next steps.

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.

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