Switching gears from the fast track to market-rate housing, businessman Sam Savarino now believes that Batavia — more specifically Ellicott Station — is more about being affordable.
“It’s difficult for people to afford housing, and then there’s a shortage of quality, affordable housing,” Savarino said to The Batavian after the ceremonial groundbreaking of Ellicott Station Tuesday. “In any event, the market study showed that there was a top end of the market that people could afford to pay in this area, otherwise, it wouldn’t be successful.”
Savarino, of Savarino Companies, was joined by City of Batavia and Genesee County leaders to pitch some dirt as a symbolic gesture for the beginning phase of a 3.31-acre mixed-use redevelopment project of vacant and abandoned industrial brownfield land downtown.
Abatement, demolition of two dilapidated buildings, land remediation, reconstruction of public storm drainage infrastructure, and construction of a 55-unit apartment building is on the way toward a summer 2023 completion. The site is to also offer adaptive reuse of the building to be used as a brewery, restaurant and/or events facility, plus improvements made to a public ‘Rails to Trails’ walking trail.
The total project cost is $20.7 million for 74,000 gross square feet, four stories, 55 units, 52 balcony units, nine units meeting Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, 37 garage parking spaces and 44 surface parking spaces, built-in laundry facility, an elevator, community room, bicycle storage and an enclosed ADA playground.
Another portion has a $4.2 million price tag and includes 11,285 square feet, 5,000 of which are for an outdoor landscaped beer garden, 25 dedicated surface parking spaces and rear access with loading dock and storage areas.
Savarino wants to build housing for people that can and will use it. And the state will help out “to close the gap” by providing housing tax credits and financing for such housing projects, he said.
“So, in return, they’re going to expect you to make sure that those rents are — remain — at that affordable rate if you don’t take advantage of what they offer,” he said.
Otherwise defined as “workforce housing,” with one and two-bedroom units, the Ellicott Street complex will most likely attract people earning about $20 an hour or below, he said. Ellicott Station should be affordable to them, he said.
“The idea being that nobody should be expected to pay more than a third of their income for occupancy that includes rent, or a mortgage, and their utilities,” he said. Part of the idea was if you’re creating jobs here, you want to have safe, modern quality housing for those workers that they can afford.”
The project is part of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization initiative and is located within a state-designated Brownfield Opportunity Area, which requires abatements and remediation from prior use of toxic materials on the property.
Top photo: Local government leaders literally pitch in to celebrate the groundbreaking of Ellicott Station with project owner Sam Savarino, shown in second photo; and Genesee County Economic Development Center Executive Director Steve Hyde and above, Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski say a few words in praise of the development. Photos by Howard Owens. Renderings courtesy Savarino Construction.