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Ellicott Station

July 30, 2020 - 10:39am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maguire said progress is being made despite no actual construction.

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

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

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

March 6, 2020 - 4:19pm

Press release:

Projects to revitalize an important downtown corridor in Batavia and to add 22 megawatts of community solar capacity in Genesee County received approval from the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors at the agency’s March 5 board meeting.

The seven projects approved for assistance have pledged more than $45 million of capital investments.

The Ellicott Station project, a $22 million mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project in Downtown Batavia, plans to construct 55 workforce apartments as part of an adaptive reuse of a former manufacturing facility on a brownfield site that would transform a major gateway to the city, and has applied for support from the New York State Office of Community Renewal.

Ellicott Place is a $3.1 million redevelopment of 45-47 Ellicott St. by V.J. Gautieri Constructors. The project includes the construction of 10 second-floor apartments at the existing facility, along with the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements.

Both projects support Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy for housing to support the growth of local businesses and were recognized as strategic projects in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) announced by Governor Cuomo in 2018.

Five community solar projects proposed by Borrego Solar include capital investments of approximately $21.6 million, and over 15 years are projected to produce more than $2 million to local taxing jurisdictions, including the Elba, Pembroke, and Akron school districts. Each project would also contribute $25,000 toward a community benefit agreement to support STEM education and economic development initiatives.

Borrego’s projects will be located at 3104 W. Main Street Road, 3232 W. Main Street Road and 5230 Batavia-Stafford Townline Road in the Town of Batavia and at 241 Knapp Road East and 241 Knapp Road West in the Town of Pembroke.

March 4, 2020 - 12:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, GCEDC, DRI projects, Ellicott Station, ellicott place.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider final resolutions for two Batavia Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) strategic projects at the GCEDC’s Thursday, March 5, board meeting.

The Ellicott Station and Ellicott Place projects would add 65 new apartments that support Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy for housing to support the growth of Genesee County’s businesses and communities.

Ellicott Station is a $22.5 million mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project by Savarino Companies that includes adaptive reuse and new construction at 40, 50, 56 Ellicott St., a blighted property in a key gateway entrance to Downtown Batavia, and the creation of 20 additional jobs to Downtown Batavia’s business community.

Considerable brownfield remediation, site improvements, and construction is proposed, with the project proposing a five-story apartment building with 55 new modern workforce housing units, along with a brewery, restaurant/beer garden, and preparation for additional development at the 3.31-acre campus. 

Ellicott Station is requesting approximately $3.6 million in economic incentives, with a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption. Revenues from the project will also contribute to the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity brownfield redevelopment fund.

Ellicott Place is a $3.1 million redevelopment of 45-47 Ellicott St. by V.J. Gautieri Constructors that includes the creation of and access to residential and commercial spaces in Downtown Batavia.

The project will construct 10 second-floor apartments at the existing facility, along with the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements. The redevelopment of Ellicott Place is estimated to create nine additional jobs to Downtown Batavia’s business community.

Ellicott Place is requesting approximately $130,000 in economic incentives, with a $110,400 sales tax exemption and a $20,000 mortgage tax exemption.

Ellicott Station and Ellicott Place were among eight transformational investments announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as enabling the Batavia DRI’s strategy to drive new, mixed-use development, improved access to local healthcare, and transform public spaces for community use.

Final resolutions are being considered after public hearings were held for both projects on March 3.

February 7, 2020 - 11:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Ellicott Station, ellicott place, news, batavia.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors approved various applications for assistance at the agency’s Feb. 6 board meeting. If the applications for incentives are approved, the projects would generate approximately $49 million in capital investment in Genesee County.

The Ellicott Station project, a $22 million mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project in Downtown Batavia, would receive $3.6 million in economic incentives, including a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption.

The developer, Savarino Companies, plans to construct 55 workforce apartments as part of an adaptive reuse of a former manufacturing facility on a brownfield site that would transform a major gateway to the city. The project is also seeking support from the New York State Office of Community Renewal.

Ellicott Place is a $3.1 million redevelopment of 45-47 Ellicott St. by V.J. Gautieri Constructors. The project includes the construction of 10 second-floor apartments at the existing facility, along with the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements. Ellicott Place would receive approximately $130,000 in economic incentives, including a $110,400 sales tax exemption and a $20,000 mortgage tax exemption.

Both projects support Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy for housing to support the growth of local businesses and were recognized as strategic projects in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) announced by Governor Cuomo in 2018.

Mega Properties is proposing to invest approximately $3 million to build a 60,000-square-foot warehouse in the Town of Batavia at the Gateway II Corporate Park. It is the first phase for a project where the developer plans to triple the size of the facility in future phases.

Mega Properties would receive a PILOT -- Payment In Lieu Of Taxes -- valued at $400,497 as well as sales tax exemptions of $128,000 and a mortgage tax exemption of $30,000 for a total savings of $558,497.

Borrego Solar would receive incentives totaling $2.5 million for the construction of five community solar projects. Borrego Solar is investing approximately $21.6 million.

The five projects would generate a total of 26 megawatts* and approximately $2.4 million to local taxing jurisdictions, including the Elba, Pembroke, and Akron central school districts. Each project would also contribute $25,000 toward a community benefits agreement to support STEM* education and economic development initiatives.

Borrego’s projects are proposed at 3104 W. Main Street Road, 3232 W. Main Street Road and 5230 Batavia-Stafford Townline Road in the Town of Batavia and at 241 Knapp Road East and 241 Knapp Road West in the Town of Pembroke.

* A megawatt is a unit for measuring power that is equivalent to one million watts. One megawatt is equivalent to the energy produced by 10 automobile engines.

* STEM is an acronym for: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics.

February 5, 2020 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, ellicott place, batavia, downtown, dri, GCEDC, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider accepting applications for assistance from two Batavia Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) strategic projects at the GCEDC’s Feb. 6 board meeting.

Together, the Ellicott Station and Ellicott Place projects are proposing 65 new apartments that support Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy for housing to support the growth of Genesee County’s businesses and communities.

Ellicott Station is a $22.5 million mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project by Savarino Companies that includes adaptive reuse and new construction on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia. This blighted property is a key gateway entrance to Downtown Batavia, and the project would create 20 additional jobs to Downtown Batavia’s business community.

Considerable brownfield remediation, site improvements, and construction are proposed, including a five-story apartment building with 55 new modern workforce housing units, along with a brewery, restaurant/beer garden, and preparation for additional development at the 3.31-acre site.

Ellicott Station is requesting approximately $3.6 million in economic incentives, with a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption. Revenues from the project will also contribute to the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity brownfield redevelopment fund.

Ellicott Place is a $3.1 million redevelopment of 45-47 Ellicott St. by V.J. Gautieri Constructors that includes the creation of and access to residential and commercial spaces in Downtown Batavia.

The project will construct 10 second-floor apartments at the existing facility, along with the development of first-floor storefronts and building-wide façade improvements. The redevelopment of Ellicott Place is estimated to create nine additional jobs to Downtown Batavia’s business community.

Ellicott Place is requesting approximately $130,000 in economic incentives, with a $110,400 sales tax exemption and a $20,000 mortgage tax exemption.

Ellicott Station and Ellicott Place were among eight transformational investments announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as enabling the Batavia DRI’s strategy to drive new, mixed-use development, improved access to local healthcare, and transform public spaces for community use.

Since both the projects are requesting more than $100,000 in incentives, public hearings will be scheduled for comment and feedback to the requests.

January 27, 2020 - 10:26pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Ellicott Station, Falleti Ice Arena.

camp_promotion_2.jpg

Public comments concerning the condition of Falleti Ice Arena on Evans Street, the prospect of the City losing out on Video Lottery Terminal funds generated by Batavia Downs Gaming, and the lack of progress on the Ellicott Station project took center stage at tonight’s Batavia City Council Conference Meeting at City Hall.

“We need to invest in this facility to make the next 40 years as successful as the past 40 years,” said Batavia resident Michael Reich, who said he has been involved with programs at the ice rink for more than 25 years.

Reich mentioned the efforts of Jack Porter and Ronald Setzer in helping to make the rink a reality and bringing “a lot of smiles under that roof.”

“Thousands of families have gone through there … lifelong connections there and (a notable) economic impact,” he said. “But it’s 40 years old and it needs some work.”

He mentioned that the goal of the management company, Firland Management, was to make it “self-financing in the long term” and said there is $300,000 in a reserve fund.

“We’re in a strong position going forward,” he said, adding that he would be willing to be a part of a group or committee to work on a number of necessary improvements. “The time has come to do these things, (to make) incredible investments in our youth. It’s a phenomenal facility. Just help us.”

Council Member Paul Viele, who also is a hockey enthusiast, agreed with Reich.

“What can we do to help the rink? We can put money into Dwyer Stadium, why not the rink?” Viele asked.

Council President Eugene Jankowski suggested forming a group to clean and make minor repairs.

“A lot of things are just cleanup and maintenance things,” he said. “We’re compiling a list. We’ve got a long way to go … but we have some possibilities here.”

Council Member Rose Mary Christian asked how much was in the reserve fund – City Manager Martin Moore said that the amount would be addressed in the budget sessions – and Robert Bialkowski asked if Firland was meeting their obligations, to which Moore replied that Firland has one more year left on its contract.

Batavian John Roach spoke about Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to take the VLT money away from the municipalities, suggesting that the City should look to the Batavia Improvement District or Genesee County Economic Development Center to fund the Batavia Development Corporation if that comes to pass.

“The $70,000 (for the BDC) was supposed to be funded by VLT money,” he said. “If lost … I think the GCEDC could pick it up easily.”

He also questioned why the City gives $4,000 annually to GO ART!, when it used to be $2,500 to conduct the Picnic in the Park on July 4th.

“Let’s take back our $4,000,” he said. “It was never meant to be a permanent subsidy to a private group.”

He also asked Council to consider “getting a little more aggressive to clean up Ellicott Station,” the mixed-use development project that has seen little progress.

On the GO ART! situation, Council Member Patti Pacino said she didn’t have a problem with a $4,000 contribution – “It’s not like giving $24,000" – and noted that GO ART! leadership makes a request for funding every year.

The Ellicott Station state of affairs generated more comments from the Council and management, with Moore informing the board that code enforcement personnel have a “green light” to make sure code issues are addressed.

He said the developer, Savarino Companies of Buffalo, is on “a very short leash” but acknowledged that not much can be done until he finds out whether a New York State Homes and Community Renewal grant of several million dollars is approved (likely to take place in April or May).

Council Member Kathleen Briggs said the community’s patience is wearing thin.

“Put up or shut up,” she said, directing her comments to Savarino. “What is this short leash?”

Understandably, Council members are worried that the project might fall through.

“If he doesn’t get the grant, does he just walk away?” Bialkowski asked.

Moore responded by stating that Savarino said he has $800,000 to $900,000 invested in predevelopment, and is working with the GCEDC and BDC on the funding.

Jankowski said he thought the initial announcement by the BDC (made in 2016) was premature since funding streams had yet to be put into place, but said he remains optimistic.

“If he (Samuel Savarino) does come through, it will be well worth it,” he said.

In another development, Council heard a request from Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvements and Armor Building Supply at 653 Ellicott St., to construct an auto service station on his property.

Currently, the location is zone I-1 (Industrial) and does not allow the operation of a motor vehicle repair shop. Biscaro went to the Genesee County Planning Board, where his request for a use variance was rejected, and now he's hoping that the City can come up with a way to make this happen.

“We’re looking to put up a small two-bay garage behind the Armor side (of the facility),” he said. “You won’t even be able to see it from the street.”

Public Works Director Matt Worth suggested that City officials conduct an internal review of the proposal to see if a zoning change is in order – “We’ve done a couple zone changes in the not-too-distant past,” he said – and report back to Council before its next meeting.

Because a zoning modification may be the only route, it would take several months since it means adopting a Local Law, which requires a public hearing. Any zoning change would affect all I-1 zones and expand the scope beyond a singular project.

Viele, speaking in elevated tones, expressed his disdain for the process.

“We should be able to help the guy out … why drag our feet,” he said. “It’s baloney.”

After a short discussion, Council agreed to let City staff conduct the review and report back before the next meeting. As it stands now, all service stations in the City are in areas that are zoned Commercial.

In other action, Council approved moving the following resolutions to be voted upon at its next Business meeting on Feb. 10:

-- Adoption of the Genesee County 2019 Hazard Mitigation Plan to serve as the City’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, a measure that would permit the City to receive federal pre-disaster mitigation funds.

“This allows us to piggyback (on Genesee County) and garner more funding with more people in the mix – in the event that monies become available,” Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano reported. “It gives us greater buying power by working with the county and other municipalities.”

Napolitano said the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan has been reviewed and approved by the State Emergency Management Office and by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and was adopted by the Genesee County Legislature in October.

-- Acceptance of a $25,481 STOP-DWI grant from Genesee County to be used throughout the year and a $22,500 with a professional services firm (to be announced) to facilitate the acceptance of a $300,000 New York Main Street grant as a match for private investments to undertake proposed building improvements within the Batavia Business Improvement District.

-- Sale of a 12- by 50-foot parcel of property next to Eli Fish Brewing Co. in Jackson Square for the company to expand their offerings to include outdoor dining. Matt Gray represented AGRV Properties Inc. at the meeting. The parcel has been appraised for $840, which is the price offered to the City by AGRV Properties.

-- Appointments of Lois Gerace to the Board of Assessment Review and Council Member Rose Mary Christian as marriage officer to have the authority to perform wedding ceremonies.

-- Tentative public hearing on the 2020-21 budget, including water rates, sewer rates and capital improvement fee, for 7 p.m. Feb. 24. The amount to be raised by taxes is $5.4 million, resulting in an increase in the property tax rate of less than 1 percent.

Photo -- Christopher Camp has his assistant police chief badge placed on his uniform by his wife, Stefanie, as Chief Shawn Heubusch looks on during promotion swearing-in ceremonies at Monday's City Council meeting. Matthew Lutey (detective sergeant), Mitch Cowen (sergeant) and Marc Lawrence (sergeant) also were sworn in.

January 7, 2020 - 1:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCEDC, business, Ellicott Station, savarino companies.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider accepting an application for assistance for the proposed $22.5 million Ellicott Station project in the City of Batavia at the GCEDC’s Jan. 9 meeting.

The Ellicott Station project is a mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project including adaptive reuse and new construction of a blighted property in a key gateway entrance site to Downtown Batavia. Considerable brownfield remediation, site improvements, and construction are proposed by project developer Savarino Companies.

“With Genesee County, the City of Batavia, and the Batavia City School District, we are working collectively to revitalize the city,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “The cleanup and redevelopment of the Ellicott Station site is a critical component of achieving our collective vision for Batavia’s Pathway to Prosperity.”

If the application is accepted, a public hearing on the proposed incentives will be scheduled in the City of Batavia.

The Ellicott Station project has been updated from a previous application that was approved by the GCEDC board in November 2018. The project proposes a five-story apartment building with 55 new modern workforce housing units, along with a brewery, restaurant/beer garden, and the preparation of an additional development site on the 3.31-acre campus.

The proposed project supports the Genesee County’s EDGE economic development strategy of creating housing for entry-level workers at Genesee County’s growing businesses.

Ellicott Station is requesting approximately $3.6 million in economic incentives, with a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption.

The proposed incentives are aligned with a request for financial support from the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).

“We believe that the proposed project can be economically viable as the market-rate housing component checks a number of boxes that support the state’s interest in funding these types of developments,” Hyde said.

“The fact that there are a growing number of employment opportunities in the surrounding area to attract workforce talent to our region is certainly another factor we hope the state will consider in its decision.”

December 9, 2019 - 1:09pm

Savarino Companies of Buffalo, developer of the mixed-use Ellicott Station project that has been in the works for three and a half years, reportedly will be filing an application for residential funding with the New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency on Friday.

“The application deadline is Friday and we’ve been told that one will be filed for the 55 units,” Pier Cipollone, president of the Batavia Development Corporation, said at this morning’s BDC meeting. “They (apartments) are geared toward a mixed-use workforce with a $30,000 to $40,000 salary range for tenants.”

Cipollone said that a decision by HCR on the funding hopefully will come in April or May of next year.

The total cost of the residential part of the project is expected to be around $18 million, Cipollone said, but he noted that the BDC is "not privy to how much Savarino will be asking for in the HCR application."

Cost of the complete Ellicott Station project, which includes apartments, commercial office space and the Resurgence Brewing Company business, is estimated at $22.7 million.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to get a shovel in the ground,” Cipollone said. “We’ve asked Sam (Savarino) to knock down a garage on the (former Santy’s Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna property on Ellicott Street) to start the process.”

Cipollone said once the garage is down, officials can proceed with rezoning the property into three lots -- separating the residential from the commercial per HCR requirements.

He noted that Savarino bought the property from the BDC for $60,000, and still owes all but a $5,000 down payment.

Cipollone also announced that he will be stepping down as president at year’s end due to commitments as an IT consultant. He said he will be speaking with Vice President Wesley Bedford about the pending vacancy.

In other developments:

-- Batavia City Manager Martin Moore said that Theatre 56 has signed a lease with the City, setting the stage for the design phase of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project and necessary construction.

-- BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire reviewed the 2020-21 budget that shows revenues of $110,000 (from the City) and $5,721 (referral fee from Genesee County Economic Development Center) and primary expenses of $65,000 (salary), $35,000 (professional services contracts) and $4,000 (marketing and public relations).

-- The board approved the 2020 meeting schedule, which sets the meeting time and date at 8:30 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month at City Hall second floor.

November 25, 2019 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, business, batavia, Della Penna Building, notify.

img_0740ellicottstation1.jpg

Developer Sam Savarino heads into the holiday season optimistic that once the weather clears in the spring he will finally be able to begin construction on Ellicott Station -- the restaurant/brewery, apartment, and office complex on the former Della Penna and Santy properties on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia.

Savarino said within days, once the application window is open, Savarino Companies will submit an application for funding assistance to the state's Home and Community Renewal agency and he expects a determination to be reached in January sometime.

It was good news last week, he said, when he learned that the Department of Environmental Conservation had opened public comment period for expedited remediation of environmental contamination at the sites.

Work will begin with cleanup of contamination followed by demolition of a portion of the main Della Penna building (the front part) and the rest of the buildings on the two sites. Then construction of the restaurant and brewery for Resurgence Brewing Company in Buffalo will begin.

If all goes according to schedule, the total project -- including office space and 55 apartments -- will be completed in October 2021.

There's a significant change in the funding plan. Savarino initially intended to finance the $19 million project (now $1.4 million more than the earlier estimates) using a federal program known as the New Market Tax Credit, where investors could get a tax break for backing the project.

Savarino said the timing of the project no longer favors using the New Market Tax Credit program.

He said, "a lot more of my money" is going into the construction of the multi-use complex to ensure the project is fully financed.

November 22, 2019 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, batavia, business, notify.

img_0740ellicottstation.jpg

There's some progress to report on the development of Ellicott Station though the finish line for the project isn't yet clearly in sight.

This week, the Department of Environmental  Conservation opened a public comment period for an expedited cleanup of contamination at the Ellicott Station Site, 40-52 Ellicott St., which is part of the Brownfield Cleanup Program. 

The comment period is open through Dec. 20. 

City Manager Martin Moore explained this afternoon that the fact that the DEC has opened an expedited comment period means that the developer, Savarino Companies, has requested permits for the cleanup work, which the DEC states will take place this winter.  

Still pending for Savarino is the final piece of the puzzle of a complex financing plan that includes support from Homes and Community Renewal, a state agency. 

An application for assistance was turned down last year and the application process this year ends in December. It's unclear how long it will take for Savarino to get a response on the application.

"To his credit," Moore said, "he hired a consultant experienced in working with Homes and Community Renewal."

Sam Savarino did not respond to a text message sent to him earlier today asking for an update on the project.

The vast majority of financing for the $17.6 million project will come from private funds, either Savarino's own money or investment by private institutions individuals through the New Markets Tax Credit Program. To be financially viable on a brownfield site in an economically distressed neighborhood, the project needs state assistance and tax abatements through the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Once completed, Ellicott Station is expected to add 68 full-time equivalent jobs in the community and will include the construction of 99,000 square feet of brewery, restaurant and beer garden, plus a five-story apartment building with 55 apartments and office space.

For previous coverage, click here. For details on the site cleanup and the public comment period, click here (pdf).

August 13, 2019 - 10:12am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Ellicott Station.

March 15, 2016.

That was the date when community leaders gathered excitedly at the former Soccio & Della Penna Construction and Santy’s Tire Sales properties at 56-70 Ellicott St. to hear Samuel J. Savarino, CEO of Savarino Cos. of Buffalo, share details of a $20 million development featuring office, retail, residential and entertainment space.

The project has come to be known as Ellicott Station and it is the centerpiece of the City of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative effort in its 366-acre Brownfield Opportunity Area.

Fast forward to today and – although much may be going on behind the scenes – nothing has been done at the site. City officials are still waiting for that shovel to be put into the ground.

The lack of progress has prompted City Manager Martin Moore to write a letter of support to the commissioner of the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal and has some City Council members scratching their heads. Their disillusionment was apparent at Monday night’s Council meeting.

“I’m very disappointed in the developer,” Council Member Robert Bialkowski said. “There’s broken glass, windows missing … the property is becoming worse by the day. It’s an eyesore. What kind of landlord is he going to be?”

Council President Eugene Jankowski agreed that he is concerned, saying that “we have given him enough leeway.”

He also noted that there are many components to be considered and thought that one area of red tape involved funds tied up by HCR.

The board voted, 6-2, in favor of Moore sending the letter to Ruthanne Visnauskas, HCR commissioner. Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian voted no.

Moore’s letter points out that the project “will positively impact the City by providing mixed-income (including affordable) housing, brownfield remediation and reuse of a blighted site, right in the heart of the City.”

It goes on to state that the site “has been directly noted in the (DRI) as a high priority project that should be fully supported” and that it “aligns with the HCR’s mission to build and support affordable housing.”

The letter ended with Moore writing “I hope that you will seriously consider ensuring that this project proceeds with the support of HCR.”

Following the meeting, Christian said that the inactivity has gone on for much too long.

“He’s (Savarino) received millions already – the property is a disaster – and he wants more money,” she said. “Where is the money that he has received? Is there any accountability?”

August 7, 2019 - 4:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, Ellicott Station, batavia, video.
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Last month, the Genesee County Economic Development Center issued an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking for his help in getting final approval on a complex financial package -- involving private investment, state and local tax incentives, grants, and investment credits -- from state officials.

Following an event today about workforce development (more later), we asked Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul about the delay of the project. She says the governor's office is working to finalize a financial package for Ellicott Station.

The Ellicott Station project will transform the former Della Penna property on Ellicott Street from a crumbling and distressed property into a mixed-used development that will include housing, office space, and a restaurant/brewery.

July 11, 2019 - 10:00pm

Genesee County Economic Development Center directors today accepted an application for $156,312 in tax incentives from Provident Batavia LLC, setting the stage for a public hearing, likely to take place at the Batavia Town Hall at a date to be announced.

In presenting the application to the board, Mark Masse, GCEDC senior vice president of operations, acknowledged the company, known as SCP Distributors LLC at 4430 Saile Drive, has successfully made all of the payments required per a 2005 payment in lieu of taxes agreement and is now on the tax rolls.

“The company is doing what they said they would do,” Masse said, noting that its number of full-time equivalent employees has grown from seven to 15 over the past eight years.

Responding to a question about a New York State Subsidy Tracker report that showed that Provident Batavia LLC lost jobs in 2011 and 2012, while receiving $25,700 in subsidies, Masse said his records reveal otherwise.

“Their application at that time stated that they would retain 12 jobs, not create 12 jobs, and what happened was that it was incorrectly inputted – doubling 12 to 24,” he said, adding that the online tracking system had its share of issues at the outset.

This new request is being tied to a 13,000-square-foot addition to the existing office, warehouse and distribution facility estimated to cost the company $1.194 million, broken down as follows:

-- $1.048 million for building cost;
-- $50,000 in land/engineering/architecture;
-- $40,000 in taxable equipment;
-- $55,750 in other expenses.

The project is estimated to produce a state and regional economic impact of $594,122 and $61,516, respectively, in property taxes over a 10-year period, and would enable SCP Distributors to retain 15 FTE’s with an average salary of $38,000, Masse reported.

Company officials are seeking property tax saving of $86,774, sales tax exemption of $57,988 and a mortgage tax exemption of $11,550. Upon approval after the public hearing, the project is expected to start in August and take about four months to complete.

SCP Distributors has more than 2,000 employees and 120,000 wholesale customers worldwide, and is part of the world’s largest wholesale distributor of swimming pool supplies and related equipment. The company is a supplier to local businesses, including Denny’s Pool World and Deep Blue Pool & Spa.

In other action, the board:

-- Approved a $10,000 contract with Clark Patterson Lee for bidding services related to the Town of Pembroke Corfu Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Masse said the Town of Pembroke and the GCEDC (or Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp.) will split the cost 50/50 for the first phase of the project, which will require CPL to provide up to 20 sets of plans, specifications and contract documents to prospective bidders.

The second phase, which will be addressed at a later date, carries a $205,000 price tag for project management, construction administration, construction inspection and stormwater pollution prevention plan inspections.

-- Approved a contract with Leaton Signs for two 4-foot by 8-foot free standing signs as the Le Roy Food & Tech Park and one 4-foot by 8-foot freestanding sign at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen at a cost of $600 per sign.

-- Approved measures connected to the STAMP site in the Town of Alabama for additional surveys (Frandina Engineering & Land Surveying for $2,230), site assessments (CPL, $1,500), to remain the lead agency for an updated state environmental quality review and to dedicate the name of the main road as STAMP Drive (per a resolution passed by the Alabama Town Board).

-- Heard a report from President/CEO Steve Hyde, who expressed his disappointment in the State Legislature’s recent passing of a farm workers labor bill that is set to go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for signing.

“It’s egregious; very damaging to our farmers,” Hyde said, mentioning that farm owners would have to pay overtime to workers after 60 hours in a week.

The bill also gives farm workers the right to one full day of rest per week, eligibility for unemployment insurance and workers compensation coverage, and the right to organize a union and to collectively bargain.

----

Hyde, following the meeting, provided an update on Ellicott Station in the City of Batavia and called upon Cuomo to step in to kick-start the City’s first big Downtown Revitalization Initiative project.

“We need the governor’s help to make this come together,” said Hyde, noting that program requirements of several state agencies are keeping the Savarino Companies of Buffalo’s plan from moving forward. “This is an opportunity to transform blighted property at the gateway of our city – (an eyesore) that reinforces poverty.”

Plans for the $20 million renovation of the former Santy’s Tire and Soccio & Della Penna property on Ellicott Street were unveiled in March 2016, but City leaders are still waiting for a shovel to be put into the ground.

Savarino Companies is proposing a mixed-use development of residential, office and retail spaces, including a brewery, small beverage warehouse and hops processing facility; as well as an entertainment and event area with outside seating and a tie-in to the new Ellicott Trail pedestrian pathway.

July 11, 2019 - 3:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, news, batavia, notify.

Open Letter:

In Batavia, we are proud to call ourselves New Yorkers.  Our residents’ band together in shared experiences and pride for our City and the great state of New York. Our city, the crossroads of Western New York, rose as thousands traveled through our downtown and neighborhoods toward destinations of employment and prosperity.  Many found Batavia and stayed to create an amazing life for their families.

Imagine the energy that 1,300 workers at Massey Harris generated as they built modern tractors and equipment from a 1 million Sq. Ft. of manufacturing operation in the heart of the City.  Batavia hummed with production and vibrancy, good wages, and happy families.  Their hard work and sweat allowed rural families across the world to give their children opportunities beyond back-breaking labor, and the food that fed millions.

Finishing their shifts, workers congregated downtown supporting merchants, professionals, and even a cluster of breweries that welcomed their neighbors.  The smell of freshly baked breads, the sight of produce and meat hanging in the window, the sound of the train rolling through, and the excitement of a vibrant downtown permeated the senses.

That era fell away with Urban Renewal and an economic decline that lasted decades.  Children walking to school saw vacant sites decaying and open lots.  The blight of hollowed, crumbling brownfields like Ellicott Station cannot support their ambitions, does not give them sense of purpose, and will not bring opportunities to advance personal prosperity.

As partners in the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2), the City of Batavia, the Batavia City School District, and Genesee County forgo immediate funding to pledge investments in distressed brownfield areas.  The BP2 was created to catalyze growth in Batavia’s main corridors and foster quality of life of our neighbors. 

Far too many families continue to experience and walk past blighted brownfield properties with decaying buildings and broken windows in Upstate New York, including the Ellicott Station site. This site is not only an environmental hazard and an eyesore; it represents the delicate balance between poverty and the hope for a successful future.

The BP2 initiative was born out of the City’s Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) and was a major driver in attracting Savarino Companies as the developer to the Ellicott Station Brownfield.  Other economic development partners and state agencies have come to the table to assist the project, understanding the importance of getting Batavia’s first brownfield rehabilitated. 

Leveraging millions of dollars of investments to transform Ellicott Station will bring up to 60 good-paying, full-time jobs and reconnect our community along the path of the Ellicott Trail.  Cleaning up the Ellicott Station site enables a vision to add downtown apartments sought by Millennials, retirees, and the professionals connected to Rochester and Buffalo.  The project has materialized slowly and only recently when Governor Cuomo announced Batavia as a Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) winner did hope rise that the necessary funding support would come together to finalize the project and construction could begin. 

Advancing the largest investment in decades in downtown Batavia gives momentum to over a dozen more local DRI projects identified as community priorities and supported by Governor Cuomo and leaders at the Department of State, Empire State Development and the Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

The BP2 partners have been working since 2016 to get this project off the ground and we cannot turn away from the challenges we have overcome and opportunities we can achieve with a project of this size and scale. 

The time has come for the community and our economic development partners including all the engaged state and local agencies to join together to resolve the final pieces necessary to move this project forward.  With the Governor’s leadership at this important moment, we will make it a reality.

Eugene Jankowski, Jr., President, Batavia City Council
Robert Bausch, Chairman, Genesee County Legislature
Patrick Burk, President, Batavia City School District Board of Education
Paul Battaglia, Chairman, Genesee County Economic Development Center
Pierluigi Cipollone, President, Batavia Development Corporation

November 2, 2018 - 10:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, news, business, Ellicott Station, batavia.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a revised PILOT -- Payment In Lieu Of Taxes -- for the Ellicott Station development project and incentives for the construction of a spec building at the Gateway II Corporate Park in the Town of Batavia.

The Ellicott Station project in the City of Batavia is a mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project including adaptive reuse and new construction of a blighted property in a key gateway to Downtown Batavia.

The GCEDC Board approved a $22.5 million PILOT for Savarino Companies, the developer of the project, to meet the financing needed for the project’s expanded scope and scale. Incentives are an estimated $3.25 million, including property tax abatements and sales and mortgage tax exemptions.

When fully developed, Ellicott Station will create 68 full-time equivalent jobs and will include the construction of 99,000 square feet of brewery, restaurant and beer garden, a five-story apartment building with 55 apartments and class-A office space.

The Board approved an $18,000 mortgage tax exemption for Gateway GS, LLC for the first of five planned 27,000-square-foot spec buildings the company is building at the Gateway II Corporate Park in the Town of Batavia.

The $2.6 million project, which is being managed by Gallina Development Corporation, has previously received approval for property and sales tax exemptions.

October 30, 2018 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, Gateway II, batavia, GCEDC, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider approving incentives for two projects at the agency’s Nov. 1st board meeting.

The Ellicott Station Project in the City of Batavia is a mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project including adaptive re-use and new construction of a blighted property in a key gateway to downtown Batavia.

Savarino Companies, the project’s developer, has requested a PILOT agreement for the $22.5 million project be expanded to meet the financing needed for the project’s expanded scope and scale. A revised incentives package is valued at an estimated $3.25 million, including a property tax abatements and sales and mortgage tax exemptions.

The Ellicott Station project is anticipated to create 68 full-time equivalent jobs, the construction of a 99,000-square-foot brewery, including a restaurant and beer garden, and the construction of a five-story apartment building with 55 apartments and class-A office space.

Gateway GS LLC is seeking an $18,000 mortgage tax exemption for the first of five planned 27,000-square-foot spec buildings to be constructed at the Gateway II Corporate Park in the town of Batavia.

The $2.6 million project, which is being done by Gallina Development Corporation, has previously received approval for property and sales tax abatements.

October 7, 2018 - 6:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Ellicott Station, batavia, news, notify.

State officials are looking for a more robust commitment from the community before signing off on a low-interest loan to help finance the Ellicott Station project in Batavia; developer Sam Savarino told members of the GCEDC board at their Thursday meeting.

As a result, the GCEDC board will consider an expanded PILOT for the project to match the 30-year loan from Homes and Community Renewal and also take into account the increased cost of the project, from $17.6 million to $21.75 million, as well as the expanded size from 73,100 square feet to 99,111 square feet, and the increase in apartment units from 51 to 55.

The loan is the last piece of the financing puzzle for the project, which has already been delayed by a year because of the complex financing, that includes a $3.5 million investment from Savarino, tax incentives by GCEDC of at least $1.5 million, state grants, and more than $10 million in private investment through a program called the New Market Tax Credits, which allows investors to purchase federal tax credits to help finance projects in distressed urban areas.

As the cost of the project has gone up, so has the cost of financing and transaction costs, which could top $2.5 million.

This is the first project to combine New Market Tax Credits and HCR financing, according to Savarino Companies CFO Milissa Acquard.

The incentives already approved include $897,293 in sales tax savings, $128,232 mortgage tax savings and GCEDC will consider increasing the and $537,398 in property tax savings for the project.

Half of the PILOT payments will be returned to the developer through the “Batavia Pathway to Prosperity” (BP2) program with half going to the relevant taxing jurisdictions (typically, half of the PILOT in a BP2 project area goes into a pool to provide future assistance to to other projects).

Savarino said he thinks their proposal with HCR has gotten past a concern about the planned rental rates for the apartments.

HCR wants to ensure the apartments will be occupied and setting rents plus utilities at 90 percent of the city's median income seemed high to HCR officials, even though that formula is typically acceptable under HCR regulations. Officials asked Savarino to consider setting rents based on 80 or 85 percent of the median income.

Changing the rental rate creates a domino effect for the rest of the financial package, Savarino said, that makes the project much harder to pull off.

Savarino and Acquard said they both think they've reached an agreement with HRC on rents and the financing package but that includes an expanded PILOT approved by the GCEDC board.

"One of the issues that have kept coming up, in some cases with the New Market investors, but also with HCR, is the local buy-in," Savarino said. "It's been deemed not to have enough investment from the community for the benefit the community is getting. We've effectively checked that box by discussing a possible change to the PILOT."

A public hearing will be scheduled on a revised PILOT once the details are worked out.

August 10, 2018 - 7:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, news, batavia, notify.

Yes, the Ellicott Station project is proceeding slowly, but it is proceeding.

Last night, Savarino Companies sought County Planning backing for a special use and site plan review, two formalities before they can start construction on the mixed-use complex that will include a brewery, apartments and office space.

"This might be one of the more complicated projects I ever work on in my lifetime because New Market Tax Credits are involved and the New Markets just haven’t really been paired with HCR money before," said Courtney Cox, development associate with Savarino. "We might be like the second case ever, so the legal teams are just trying to figure out how they want to make this work."

The New Market Tax credit is a mechanism that enables Savarino to secure private financial support for a bulk of the project's $17.6 million price tag. The New Market Tax Credit program, was created about two decades ago, in part to replace grants that financed many failed urban renewal programs. Tax credits on the project can be sold as assets to help create a market-driven way to encourage development in economically distressed neighborhoods. 

HCR is Homes and Community Renewal, a state agency that provides funding for housing in financially depressed neighborhoods.

These two financial programs are not commonly brought together and they have different criteria that developers must meet. HCR has a 30-year compliance period and New Markets has a seven-year period with a requirement to refinance after seven years, as one example of the complications that need to be worked out.

Still, Cox still estimates financing will close in this month or nextl, thereby allowing contractors to get a shovel in the ground before the first freeze. If crews can get the site cleared and foundations built before winter, then workers can put up steel and start working on walls.

The entire construction cycle, however, is estimated to be 24 months.

Despite these delays, the anchor tenant, Resurgence Brewing in Buffalo is patient, Cox said.

"They understand," he said. "We renegotiated some of the terms of the lease pretty easily between the two parties, so they're are hanging in there."

One of the biggest changes in the site plan is the apartment complex, which will now include 55 apartment units instead of 51.

That's a change needed to comply with HCR requirements.

"These programs all have design guidelines," Cox said. "There is a limit on how large one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom units can be. In the original plan, the one-bedroom units were larger than what they allow, so we had to downsize."

The one-bedroom apartments will be about 785 square feet.

"They’re not tiny units by any means," Cox said. "I think it's just being efficient with space that public money is being invested into."

Even though no ground has been broken yet, Rachel Tabelski, director of the Batavia Development Corp., said Ellicott Station remains one of the state's ground-breaking projects.

"This is the first brownfield opportunity area -- they have these all over the state -- but this is the first one that is actually close to putting a shovel in the ground," Tabelski said. "So across the state, we are the poster child for having a developer come in and commit to this site and prove that the brownfield opportunity area works."

The success in getting the project this far has put Batavia on the map with investors looking to finance similar projects.

"This project is a catalyst," Tabelski said. "Everybody wants to know what’s going on. They’re calling us out of Manhattan now asking are there deals here they can play. That’s a huge testament to how big this is."

February 28, 2018 - 12:23pm

Plans announced this week by Resurgence Brewing to convert an old industrial building in the First Ward of Buffalo into a new brewery, beer garden, and the restaurant doesn't change any plans for the Ellicott Station project in Batavia, said developer Sam Savarino.

Savarino said the Buffalo projects and the Batavia projects are very different and Resurgence has continued to move ahead with plans to occupy space in Ellicott Station for a restaurant and brewery that will specialize in sour beer.

Financing for construction should close at the end of March, Savarino said, with the first shovel in the ground within 30 to 60 days. The Resurgence space in the mixed-use complex, which includes apartments and offices, should be completed by the end of the year, if not the first quarter of 2019. It will be up to Resurgence, Savarino said, when they want to move in and get started with their preparation work to open the business.

He said he didn't have any specifics from them on their plans at this point. Attempts to reach Jeff Ware, one of the co-owners of Resurgence, were unsuccessful this morning.

Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator for the BDC, is traveling but did send a text message saying that Resurgence's expansion in Buffalo has not changed the company's plans for Batavia.

Development of Ellicott Station is being mostly funded by private investors but includes financing through tax incentives and grants because of the environmental remediation necessary at the site. It will be a 64,000-square-foot complex with 51 market-rate apartments in a five-story building next to the restaurant.

The new complex in the First Ward of Buffalo will provide Resurgence with 25,000 square feet of space. They will share the building with a microdistiller and a rock-climbing gym.

"It's right around the corner from where I live and our office," Savarino said, "so I'm happy."

February 7, 2018 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Station, batavia, news, business.

img_1612.jpg

Yesterday afternoon, consultants and an investigator from the Department of Environmental Conservation were at the former Santy Tire property, an anticipated part of the Ellicott Station project, digging test pits to further define the severity and scope of environmental contamination on the property.

There is a pending application for the property for a brownfield tax credit -- one has already been granted for the Della Penna property -- for the parcel. The DEC asked for more evidence of environmental contamination.

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