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JC Penney

April 10, 2022 - 7:01pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, JC Penney, notify, batavia, downtown, city centre.

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As the former JC Penney’s site, tucked on the northeast side of Batavia City Centre, has rested from its 44-year existence, a West Coast businessman purchased the building in February 2021. 

JC Penney closed its doors locally in the fall of 2020, in an onslaught of closings due to corporate bankruptcy proceedings. Batavia’s site then sat quietly as local shoppers mourned the loss of another department store. 

Meanwhile, Yong Guang Ye of San Jose, Calif., purchased the 38,524 square-foot site. According to Genesee County assessment records, Ye bought the building for $500,000 on Feb. 2, 2021. The property has been assessed at $400,000. 

Ye was contacted Sunday for comment by The Batavian. A representative of Ye’s from California returned the call inquiring if The Batavian was interested in purchasing the property, and it was explained that the call was for comment about the purchase. Ye has a local realtor whose name was to be provided to The Batavian but was not provided by the time of publication. 
 
JC Penney was built in 1978 along Alva Place and remained a strong anchor for the former Genesee Country Mall-turned-Batavia City Centre until its doors were permanently closed in late 2020.

Top photo: File photo of JC Penney during its going-out-of-business sale in late 2020. Photo by Howard Owens.

November 10, 2020 - 8:42am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, JC Penney, farmers market.

Batavia City Council members vigorously defended themselves Monday night after a city resident called them out for not communicating effectively with their constituents.

Sammy DiSalvo, speaking during the public comments portion of the Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, said he was there to “talk about a larger issue that seems to be facing Council and city government as a whole – the lack of communication from city officials and from Council.”

“Elected officials are meant to represent and listen to citizens, not to ignore what citizens say," DiSalvo said. "Elected officials are meant to represent and listen to citizens, not to pursue personal interests. Elected officials are meant to represent and listen to citizens. This lack of communication from our City government is not acceptable.”

DiSalvo ran against incumbent Council Member Jeremy Karas last week for the unexpired term for Councilman-at-Large, but is trailing by 636 votes pending the counting of absentee ballots.

He gave examples of what he called Council’s “persistent refusal to listen to and communicate with residents” and said it was a “disgrace” that no Council member responded to a woman’s concerns when she spoke a couple weeks ago.

DiSalvo mentioned the problems with the deer committee over the summer and with the City Youth Board.

“These are two committees that Council has put together – both committees that Council decided not to inform of things happening until after decisions were made,” he said. “What’s the point of having a committee if you’re going to make decisions without them?”

He also criticized city leaders for their role in turning the farmers’ market situation “into a media and Facebook fight.”

“There’s also a lack of listening to the community over the construction of where the (new) police station should be and there is a lack of listening to the community over what to do with the mall when the entire community says, ‘Get that thing out of the city’s hands and stop investing money in it,’ and you all want to double-down on it,” he said. “People did not want that mall when it replaced beautiful Main Street back in the late '60s  and early '70s and they don’t want it in 2020.”

DiSalvo said residents have complained to him that no Council members have social media to share their real-time thoughts on Batavia.

“To which I have no response, other than it is much easier to be a mouse and hide than it is to speak out and risk being burned,” he said, before crediting the city for increasing its frequency of posts on its social media site.

Council members, in their responses, rejected DiSalvo’s scathing assessment.

-- John Canale: “I take offense to that Mr. DiSalvo. I listen to my city residents. I listen to the ones who contact me. I don’t go by what I’m reading on social media because I don’t believe most of what I read on social media. My constituents call me, as I am sure they do my colleagues, when they have concerns – or they send me an email or they show up at my front door, my front steps, and believe me that has happened quite often. So, the people that call me, I respond to. If I get an email, I immediately forward it to her to look into it for me and as soon as she gets an answer, she responds back to me and I forward that to my constituent.”

On the police station issue, Canale said Council took the task force’s recommendations and tried to purchase its first choice, but when that fell through, went with another one of its suggested sites (Alva Place parking lot). As far as responding to public speakers, he said he will respond if he has an adequate answer and, if not, will look into the matter further.

-- Paul Viele: “I have to agree with John, With the farmers’ market, we own the property. Why would we buy another piece of land and put the police station on there? That’s common sense. I coach hockey and I coach baseball, I’m all for the youth. When John said we’re not going to cut the youth (programs), we would never do that. And I also take offense to being called a mouse because I’m not on social media. Mr. DiSalvo, you have not a clue of what we do in here. What you do and what you see, when you sit back there, so I take offense to that.”

-- Kathleen Briggs: “I really take offense that I don’t listen to my constituents. I have a lot of problems in my (Fifth) Ward, and I’m telling you that my constituents, they know. They call me Monday through Sunday, anytime, I’ve gotten calls at 8 in the morning, and if I’m not home, I have a machine and they leave a message on my machine and I get back to them immediately and I listen to their concerns, I go to the proper department and I get back to them as soon as I can. I really take offense to the fact that we have someone saying that I don’t listen to my constituents. That’s appalling to me.”

-- Robert Bialkowski: “As far as not responding, I spent three hours on the phone yesterday discussing issues with various people … and today I spent two hours on the phone. Topics of conversation were about the youth bureau. The way it works, citizens are on top of the pyramid. Period. End of story. The individual citizens here, they call the shots. … We’re policy makers. We don’t run the city day-to-day. When it comes to the youth bureau, that’s policy … that’s up to us. And if we make the wrong decisions, then I guess some of us won’t be here in the future.”

He did acknowledge DiSalvo’s concerns about the deer committee, saying it “turned out to be a nightmare for everybody involved, and I apologize for that. It shouldn’t have happened.”

“My bigger concern is that when we use committees and we use boards, let’s treat them fairly and include them into the decision-making process. I don’t like making a decision and then telling the board about it after the fact. My concern is why would anybody even want to serve on boards?”

-- Al McGinnis: “I spent two hours over tea at my house with (Genesee Country Farmers’ Market Manager) Betty Carr talking about the farmers’ market, and Alva Place and the police (station). What a lot of people don’t realize or refuse to realize is that every single member of this Council spends an inordinate amount of time with their constituents in private – either a personal visit or a phone call. We don’t have to speak up in public; a lot of people would like to talk to you privately … which we do on our own time as part of the job.”

-- Patti Pacino: “Here’s what you need to know – I’m not offended in the least. You have the right to say what you have to say, so there you are. I learned from a great person, Mary Pat Hancock, who taught me to let it roll off your back, live with it, not everybody is going to agree. I want everybody to know that I also listen to everybody on Jackson Square, youth bureau, farmers’ market and all that, she said, adding that she is against the city youth programs being run by the YMCA.”

Another public speaker, city resident John Roach, sided with Council members in that they do listen.

“We just had an election and had two different points of view and the other point of view won (Jeremy Karas) by 600-something votes pending the recount of the absentee ballots,” Roach said.

Then he proceeded to give his thoughts on the farmers’ market and the location of a new headquarters for the Batavia Police Department.

“They’re over there at Alva Place by the good graces of City Council. You allow them to be there. They don’t pay user fees, they don’t pay property taxes or anything else,” he said. “And we’re going to put a police station somewhere and I know that wasn’t the first choice, it wasn’t the second choice, but it is the current choice. We already own the property. Environmental issues are going to be a lot less. There are already utilities there. Let the farmers’ market move.”

Roach said it would be unwise for the police department to move into the former JCPenney store.

“Well, that would mean taking property off the tax rolls and they also pay mall maintenance fees. Let the farmers’ market contact the owners of the Penney’s building. Let them pay rent. Let them move into Penney’s. It’s a huge place. Great place for a farmers’ market,” he said. “Why should the city have to foot the bill to relocate the police station somewhere else and maybe pay another $500,000 to buy another piece of property? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

October 18, 2020 - 6:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in JC Penney, downtown, batavia, news.

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JC Penney in Batavia closed its doors for the last time at 5 p.m. today. One potential shopper found she got there a little late for the last day of the store's going-out-of-business sale.

January 8, 2018 - 9:56pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, JC Penney, Jason Molino.

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Update: Tuesday, Jan. 9

Concerning negotiations between the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchants Association, Dr. Marlin Salmon this morning said that he is concerned over the parking situation in proximity to his dental practice located at the City Centre Mall, calling it a "significant issue" that has prevented him from signing the proposed agreement.

"I have talked with Jason (Molino) in the past and expressed my concerns," said Salmon, who is seeking consideration for parking spaces near his business. "The initial agreement gives us a pedestrian easement, but really what does that do?"

Molino said that the City has offered to restripe a portion of the east lot to have two-hour parking instead of all-day parking for "quicker turnover," but added that "there are only so many parking spaces close to his storefront."

The matter is on the docket in Erie County Supreme Court at 10 a.m. Wednesday with Judge Catherine Nugent-Panepinto presiding.

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No one questioned his suggestions and no one shot down his recommendations. Jason Molino's final meeting as Batavia city manager was a smooth one.

At tonight's special conference meeting at City Centre Council Chambers, Batavia City Council members unanimously signed off on Molino’s advice to appoint Department of Public Works Director Matthew Worth as the interim city manager and to contract with a recruiting firm to find Molino’s long-term replacement.

The meeting culminated a nearly 12-year association with the City for Molino, whose last day on the job is this Friday. He starts his new position as Tompkins County administrator on Jan. 29.

Council members -- after re-electing Eugene Jankowski as president and Paul Viele as president pro tempore for 2018 -- thanked Molino for his service through an official proclamation, which pointed to his budgeting and strategic planning expertise and his “leadership and creativity,” while also acknowledging his “integral” role in Batavia receiving a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from the state.

Molino accepted the proclamation from Jankowski, quipping that “I bet you would have never predicted 12 years ago that you’d be giving me this,” referring to a situation where Jankowski’s position on the police force was eliminated midway through Molino’s tenure.

“It has been a fun time … quite the roller-coaster ride, with a lot of ups and downs,” Molino said. “The staff has been remarkable to work with, and you’re in good hands as you look for your next leader.”

The reins, at least temporarily (it could take up to six months to hire a new manager), are being handed over to Worth, who along with Ray Tourt, maintenance superintendent; James Ficarella, water and wastewater superintendent; and Lisa Neary, deputy director of finance, will be taking on additional responsibilities.

Council approved these appointments, which will come with additional stipends of $1,000 per month for Worth, and $750 per month each for Tourt, Ficarella and Neary.

Worth said he's ready to do what's needed to keep the City running efficiently.

"It’s really just a matter of need," he said. "There’s a gap and they felt that I could help to move forward until they could get that permanent solution for the city manager. The City has been awful good to me over the years, and if I can help them get through this interim area, I was happy to do it."

Molino’s departure means that both key leadership positions in the City will be vacant as Batavia also has been without an assistant city manager for some time.

As reported previously on The Batavian, Molino suggested that due to several major infrastructure projects on the table, Council would be wise to postpone a water line replacement project and a sanitary sewer design project on several streets until 2019 and 2020, respectively.

“From a construction perspective, it would be best to postpone them to next year because you won’t have the manpower available,” Molino said.

Worth said there will be plenty of construction work in the months ahead.

"The priorities, of course, are first and foremost are to assist Council in getting the new city manager search started, and get that moving forward," he said. "After that, the big tickets items that are outstanding are the few capital projects that were discussed – the TIP project and TAP project, which are sidewalk and large resurfacing. Hopefully, (there will be) a resolution to the mall issues and the sales tax/water agreement with the county are the big items that need all of our attention."

When asked if he was onboard with putting off the water line replacements projects on Union Street, Brooklyn Avenue and South Main Street, Worth said a year delay won't make much of a difference.

"Well, I can say I dug more holes in Union Street that I care to think about over my career, so I very much am looking forward to replacing that water main, but then again, that water main’s close to 100 years old -- so one more year, it seems that it’s a reasonable step to take," he said. "We want to do it once, and do it right. Those projects are projects that will be in place for 100 years ... so let’s make sure we spend the time and do it right."

Molino said he was confident that Worth, Ficarella, Tourt and Neary would be able to navigate through the projects, which include an overhaul of the city’s entire software system, sidewalk construction, street resurfacing, facilities capital plan, City Centre concourse improvements and the Ellicott Trail bicycle and pedestrian pathway.

“The budget probably will be one of the easiest things to get through since the department heads are involved in this,” he said.

As far as the search for the new manager is concerned, Council agreed with Molino’s contention that hiring an executive search firm – which could cost up to $20,000 – would be the best way to “recruit the best talent with a fresh perspective and not placing a huge responsibility on the staff.”

He made a point of stating that candidates at this level “are interviewing you (City Council),” not the other way around.”

“The reality is that they are interviewing you to see what you have to offer,” he said.

After some discussion, Council formed a committee of Jankowski, Robert Bialkowski and Adam Tabelski, which will reach out to three or four recruiting firms and get proposals prior to its Jan. 22 meeting.

Jankowski said he liked the idea of “formulating a hybrid committee” of Council members, business people, citizens and department heads to conduct the initial screening, but Kathleen Briggs said she was in favor of department heads and council members.

“No business leaders at this point,” she said, adding that Council was responsible for the hire.

It was agreed that the committee of three would work with human resources specialist Dawn Fairbanks to contact search firms and report back as soon as possible.

“I’ll make sure everyone is informed every step of the way,” Jankowski said. “We want to act on this as quickly as possible.”

In other action, Council:

-- Voted in favor of two resolutions dealing with the JC Penney store at the City Centre Mall, continuing the practice of having unique agreements with the department store – the mall’s anchor tenant.

The resolutions granted an easement for JC Penney, formally known as 40 Batavia Centre LLC, for its use of the loading dock which actually sits on city property. Last week, Black Equities transferred ownership of the property to 40 Batavia Centre LLC.

This latest action is “one of the final pieces of the settlement documents in getting them passed by Penney’s and their new property owner.”

Molino said just one property owner – Dr. Marlin Salmon, DDS, Salmon Orthodontics  – has refused to sign the settlement agreement that calls for the city to retain ownership of the downtown facility's concourse, pay 100 percent of capital improvements, and take care of mall maintenance and operations.

Dr. Salmon’s business is located on the north side of the mall, next to Batavia Family Dental.

Molino said that Dr. Salmon’s case will be reviewed by a judge in court on Wednesday.

Molino said JC Penney owners have “given their affirmation of wanting to stay in this community, which is good for our dialogue with them. They confirmed they want to be here; having that good anchor tenant is always a good thing.”

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In photo at top, Jason Molino receives a farewell hug from Council member Rose Mary Christian. "You're the best manager we've ever had," Christian said, adding that she promised to "be good to these guys (his interim replacements) for the next six months."

Photos by Howard Owens.

March 17, 2017 - 12:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Centre, JC Penney.

The JCPenney store in Batavia apparently has been spared from the ax that will come down on 138 of the company's stores across the United States.

The major retailer today announced that it will close three stores in New York State -- Dunkirk-Fredonia Plaza, Dunkirk; Westfield Sunrise, Massapequa; Palisades Center, West Nyack -- probably in the second quarter of the year which ends in July for J.C. Penney Co., but will continue to operate the store located in the City Centre Mall.

With its remaining 876 stores, "Penney's" will still have at least one location in 49 states and Puerto Rico. It has no stores in Hawaii. The chain's original store in Kemmerer, Wyo., at 722 J.C. Penney Drive isn't on the list and will remain open. 

The states with the biggest number of closings were Texas (nine), Minnesota (eight), Michigan (seven), Illinois (seven), Pennsylvania (six), North Carolina (five), Wisconsin (four) and Oklahoma (four).

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