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August 21, 2021 - 11:10am

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The owner of Save-A-Lot at 45-47 Ellicott St., seeing the improvements his landlord was making to the downtown building, said he figured the time was right to create a “fresh, modern” look to the grocery store that will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in December.

“When we heard that Victor (VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc. President Victor Gautieri) was going to update the building -- putting apartments on top of the store -- we decided to extend our lease and renovate our location here,” said John Hedlund, a Niagara Falls resident and owner of five Save-A-Lot stores in Western New York,

“We put about $300,000 into it, giving it a fresh, modern feel; a new décor package and new life.”

So, while the Gautieri company was completing the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project that resulted in 10 market-rate apartments on the second floor (and continues to prepare another 18,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor), Hedlund went to work on updating the grocery store.

Hedlund, who is in a partnership with William Larson of Pennsylvania, the former owner of the Corfu IGA store, provided details of the changes while giving The Batavian a tour of the store earlier this week.

“We shortened up the hallway to the entrance of the store, and we’ve expanded our produce, meats, dairy and frozen food items throughout the store,” he said. “New windows on the front give it more of a grocery-store look, plus we’ve replaced a lot of equipment and we added new lighting and paint.”

In the grocery business for 44 of his 60 years, Hedlund said he likes Save-A-Lot’s new branding and signage, and is pleased with the results of his decision to shorten the aisles and add a center aisle.

“By doing this, it gives customers the opportunity to not be crowded in the aisles, so they have room to step aside and not be pushed around,” he said. “It just gives everyone more space. We’ve done this with all of our stores, and it really ended up being a positive thing for everyone.”

Hedlund owns Save-A-Lot stores in Le Roy (which underwent remodeling recently), Albion (which open three years ago), Salamanca (his first store, which also has been renovated) and his hometown of Niagara Falls.

The Batavia store consists of 18,000 square feet, with two-thirds of it as retail space, Hedlund said. He said that he hopes other businesses come to the location, noting that the increased traffic would help to offset the loss of the store’s “in and out” business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That and other factors such as a minimum wage increase and rising inflation have resulted in higher prices.

“Yes, we’re starting to see that, but we’re trying to maintain the retail pricing as low as possible,” he said. “We’re competitively priced … as we don’t have to carry a lot of items that just sit on the shelves and cost money. We look for terms and we have a lot of buying power through Save-A-Lot as they have 1,000 stores, so that keeps our costs down.”

A licensee, Hedlund said he is qualified to buy through Save-A-Lot and outside vendors, including produce from local farmers.

The store employs about 18 people, including two full-time butchers, a full-time produce manager and full-time operations manager.

“We fresh cut our meats every day and we also offer grab-and-go deli meats on a daily basis,” Hedlund said.

Hedlund said a four-day sales promotion each month will begin on Sept. 4.

“There will be hot sales on produce and meat selections for four days – Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – each month for a while,” he said. “We will be promoting that heavily.”

The store is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Previously (from December 2011): Entrepreneurs saw Batavia needed a grocery store downtown, so they opened one

Photo at top: Save-A-Lot owner John Hedlund next to the new produce display at the Ellicott Street grocery store. Photos at bottom: Expanded center aisle; grab-and-go deli section; frozen foods and dairy section; employee Corey McKenzie cashes out customer Gary Capuano of Batavia. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

July 22, 2021 - 5:09pm

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The Ellicott Place project, one of several redevelopment ventures supported by the City of Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, is about 10 days away from completion, according to the head of the company that owns the Save-A-Lot building at 45 Ellicott St.

“We’re 98.5 percent done,” said Victor Gautieri, president of VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., who, this morning, gave The Batavian the first look at some of the 10 market-rate apartments being built on the second floor.

City View Residences, the housing portion of the project’s official name, consists of seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units featuring nine-foot ceilings, stainless steel appliances (including a dishwasher and microwave oven), upgraded fixtures and trim, and plenty of closet space.

The apartments, which vary in size from 900 to 1,200 square feet, also come with a 10-foot by 6-foot outside deck that is secured by protective guardrails measuring 42 inches high. Each unit has its own laundry room with washer and dryer, and heating and air conditioning system, both tucked away in a small room with a door on it.

Gautieri (pictured above) said that transforming the building into more than a supermarket was a goal of his father, Vito, the company founder.

“It was his thought from initially purchasing the building that we’d be able to redevelop the second floor and put some commercial space up there, but that never materialized,” Victor Gautieri said. “Then, when we were approved for the DRI grant (covering $1.15 million of the total project cost of $3.1 million), that allowed us to put the apartments in.”

Realizing the need for quality housing in Batavia and Genesee County, Gautieri said he and his father “looked at it as a company” and figured that apartments on the second floor would be a viable option.

“We were able to get the (DRI) grant and then the financing to do the second-floor apartments, and from there, we did a complete ‘reno’ on the exterior of the building and now we’re creating a vanilla box in the remaining commercial space,” he added.

Gautieri said the apartments will rent for $1,325 to $1,575 per month, plus utilities (cable television is available). The apartments were designed by Dean Architects PLLC, of Depew, in conjunction with VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc.

“We have a waiting list and we’re going through the applications,” he said. “It looks like we will be in good shape on the apartments in short order.”

Another neat feature of the apartments is an electric door at the main entrance (on the north side of the building), with each tenant receiving a key fob that unlatches the door for entry. Each apartment has a video monitor on the wall near the door.

“Tenants will be able to see who’s at the front door and allow them to come in without having to walk down the stairs to unlock the main entrance door,” Gautieri said, noting that security cameras have been installed in all the public areas.

As far as commercial space, he said that 16,000 square feet is available, and can be divided depending upon the requirements of businesses that show interest in the property. Currently, it is being used as a production area during construction.

“Like the saying goes, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ As we started to redevelop and modernize the property, it spawned more interest from the business community,” he said.

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The wall leading to the elevator and stairs on the first-floor foyer, crafted from wood taken from the building's exterior.

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Stairs leading to the 10 apartments.Technicians are nearly finished with wiring of the elevator, Gautieri said.

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Modern kitchen area with stainless steel appliances.

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Flooring in one of the bedrooms. The color scheme is a darker shade of blue and light gray.

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Enclosed laundry room.

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Every apartment has a full bathroom and either a half- or three-quarter bath.

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View from the deck of one of the units, looking west. Genesee County Building 1 is in the background.

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"Door bell" monitor system that allows the tenant to see who is at the main entrance downstairs.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

November 18, 2020 - 9:25am

The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night saw no problem with a change in the location of an elevator that will lead to second-floor apartments of the Ellicott Place project.

V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc., which is rehabilitating the Save-A-Lot building as part of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program, submitted a site plan review to the committee that modifies the previously approved design of the second floor by moving the elevator originally planned for the interior of the existing building to a location on the exterior wall of the north elevation.

Company President Victor Gautieri, in his submission to the committee, said the basis for the change was “to develop a more easily accessible, safe entry for the second-floor apartment tenants, wherein the travel distance and corridor turns to the first-floor elevator access point would both be reduced to a more desirable condition.”

Work is underway on the $2.3 million renovation of the exterior of the building and the vacant space that will include 10 market rate apartments on the second floor.

Plans call for the construction of seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor, and includes the development of 18,000 square feet of first-floor commercial/retail space.

The PDC also recommended that the City Zoning Board of Appeals approve an area variance request for internal illumination of the proposed Save-A-Lot signs – four signs that will feature the grocer’s new logo. Signs by John’s Studio has been contracted to create the signs.

The ZBA meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.

November 12, 2020 - 12:44pm

Update: 3:30 p.m. with comments from Victor Gautieri, president of V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc. on the proposed changes:

The crux of the change is when we started looking at when the folks walk in on the first floor, into the building, there is a corridor that leads ot the elevator, and then they take the elevator up to the second floor. Well, there were three turns that had to be made before you actually reached the elevator door. So, from a safety perspective and people's comfort level, I guess, it is better to have fewer turns and a more direct access to the elevator doors.

We made it much more convenient to get to those elevator doors, but in order to do so, we had to move the elevator from within the second-floor footprint. It's now coming out -- outside of the building, adjacent to the outside wall of the building (on the north side).

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The Genesee County Planning Board tonight is expected to consider a site plan review referral from the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on behalf of V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc.. The company is proposing to relocate an elevator leading to the second-floor apartments of the Ellicott Place project at 45-47 Ellicott St.

According to a document submitted by City Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall, the applicant has requested approval to modify the previously approved design of the second floor by moving the elevator originally planned for the interior of the existing building to a location on the exterior wall of the north elevation.

Randall wrote that the change would result in an exterior alteration to the building that is located in a Central Commercial (C-3) zone within the Business Improvement District.

In its submission for modification proposal, V.J. Gautieri officials report that the basis for the changes “is to develop a more easily accessible, safe entry for the second-floor apartment tenants, wherein the travel distance and corridor turns to the first-floor elevator access point would both be reduced to a more desirable condition.”

Specific changes, as outlined in the new plan, include:

  • On the south elevation, utilizing the existing stair to the second floor instead of pushing it outside of the second-floor footprint, which required a second-floor addition.
  • On the north elevation, shortening the distance to the apartment elevator, (which) required the shaft and associated exit stair to be pushed outside the second-floor footprint. This change will result in the construction of a 19- by 23-foot second-floor addition, with the exterior in wood cladding to keep with the second-floor visual design.
  • On the interior, requiring the southwest apartment to be changed from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom unit, and the northwest apartment to be changed from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit. Thus, the total number of one- and two-bedroom apartments will not change.

Work is underway on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project, a $2.3 million renovation of the exterior of the building and the vacant space that will include 10 market rate apartments on the second floor.

Plans call for the construction of seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor, and includes the development of 18,000 square feet of first-floor commercial/retail space.

In a related development, planners also will look at an area variance request from Signs by John’s Studio on behalf of V.J. Gautieri Constructors and Save-A-Lot to save_a_lot_logo_1.jpgreplace four existing internally lit signs featuring the supermarket’s existing logo with its new logo (pictured).

According to a City of Batavia sign permit application, there will be a 15-foot by 96-inch wall sign, a 44-inch by 145-inch pole sign and two 23-inch by 36-inch entrance/exit signs.

Both referrals have been recommended for approval by Genesee County Planning Department staff, but will be subject to review by the City Planning & Development Committee and, in the case of the sign application, by the City Zoning Board of Appeals.

Also on tonight’s agenda is a special use permit and site plan review to erect two buildings with eight apartment units each in a Limited Commercial zone at 8940 Alleghany Road (Route 77), near Cohocton Road, in the Town of Pembroke.

The applicant, Daryl Martin Architect, P.C., of Orchard Park, proposes to build a pair of two-story structures – each featuring seven two-bedroom apartments and one one-bedroom apartment for property owner/developer Tim Cansdale.

Planning department staff recommendation is approval with modifications pertaining to driveway and stormwater permits, and adherence to Enhanced 9-1-1 standards.

*Enhanced 911, E-911 or E911 is a system used in North America to automatically provide the caller's location to 9-1-1 dispatchers. 911 is the universal emergency telephone number in the region.

September 26, 2020 - 11:15am

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While V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc. is focused on completing as much exterior work as possible before the snow flies, Save-A-Lot management is overseeing an upgrade to the interior of the store at 45-47 Ellicott St.

Such is the current status of the Ellicott Place project, a $2.3 million renovation of the supermarket that will include 10 market rate apartments on the second floor.

Victor Gautieri, project developer, on Friday said that crews have created a new entry vestibule, with placement moved to the east along the north wall, facing the Court Street Plaza parking lot.

“That allows us room to construct our entrance to the elevator that accesses the second-floor apartments,” he said.

Gautieri said that Save-A-Lot is closed for “some pretty extensive remodeling on the inside of the store.” He believes the store has set a reopening date of Oct. 2.

“(They’re) painting and decorating as well as a lot of mechanical upgrades – coolers and freezers and systems of that nature for their operation,” he said.

The interior enhancements are part of Save-A-Lot's effort to upgrade its branding, Gautieri said.

“They’ve rolled out a different look – reorganizing how the groceries are stocked and the flow of traffic within the stores,” he said. “New signs will be going up as well as a different kind of a logo that will be in place as soon as we are finished completing the work on the front canopy.”

Gautieri said he is hoping to have all construction done by the end of April, weather permitting.

The project, part of the City of Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, will feature seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor, and includes the development of 18,000 square feet of first-floor commercial/retail space.

Other improvements include a two-stop interior elevator, two stairwells, new exterior windows, doors, veneers and roof membrane.

The Save-A-Lot grocery store occupies around half of the ground floor.

Gautieri said his company plans to “roll out some advertising on the apartments by the end of the year,” with the goal of getting some preopening leasing in place.

“We’ve been receiving phone calls, wondering what the status of the project is and what the apartments will be like,” he said. “We want to try to get ahead of the curve and get things ready to go as soon as construction is done and we’ve got a certificate of occupancy in hand.”

Ellicott Place and the Ellicott Station mixed-use redevelopment venture across the street will provide a much-needed boost for that section of the city, Gautieri said.

“It’s going to be good for – we’ll call it the Southside, which has lacked any real new projects or anything of that nature,” he said.

Photo: View of the location of a new entry vestibule (boarded up), which will provide access to the elevator leading to second-floor apartments upon completion of the Ellicott Place project at the Save-A-Lot grocery store on Ellicott Street. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Planning boards to consider Ellicott Place residential/commercial venture special use permits

July 10, 2016 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Save-A-Lot, batavia, news.

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Tim and Sabrina Walton got married today in the same spot where they first met.

That would be in the produce section of the Save-A-Lot in Batavia.

Then, Tim was an assistant manager and Sabrina was a just-hired cashier.

“He just looked at me," Sabrina said of that first meeting. "He just gave me this look and not long after that he said he would marry me some day.”

Yes, Tim, said, he was smitten, but it was something more than that.

“I’d never seen anybody like her," Tim said. "It was just one of those feelings where you just know.” 

Judge Robert Balbick performed the ceremony.

The idea of getting married in the grocery store started out as a joke, Sabrina said, but Tim credits his father with promoting the idea that they should do a small, inexpensive service.

"He was the one who talked with us about doing something small and instead of spending thousands of dollars on a wedding, we could take that money and put that toward our family and still have it have meaning in what we did," Tim said.

Speaking a family, it's immediately a big one. Sabrina's four children are Dominick, 17, Cody, 14, Tyler, 12 and Emma, 11. Tim's two children are Caylin, 15, and Olivia, 11.

They recently moved into a six-bedroom house in the City of Batavia.

Sabrina now works at a local dental clinic and Tim is manager of the Save-A-Lot in Le Roy.

Tim said his bosses were gracious in the support of the idea.

Sabrina beamed and said, "We did it."

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December 20, 2011 - 5:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Save-A-Lot.

In a way, you can thank Walmart for the new grocery store downtown, which held its ribbon cutting today and will officially open Wednesday.

Co-owner John Hedlund (top photo, right) once owned a grocery store in a small town in Pennsylvania, then Walmart came to town. The giant retailer leveled a hill across the street from his store and within six months had taken away half his business.

After closing the store, he started looking for other opportunities in the grocery business, and with his desire to remain entrepreneurial and independent, the Save-A-Lot model appealed to him.

Hedlund converted his Jubilee store in Salamanca to Save-A-Lot and along with business partner Bill Larson now owns and operates four Save-A-Lot locations in Pennsylvania and New York.

Larson was owner of the former IGA store in Corfu.

"Walmart devastated me, but they also put me on a different track," Hedlund said. "The Save-A-Lot program is a great business to bring to a community."

Save-A-Lot is a mixture of corporate-owned stores and licensed stores, such as the new one in Batavia. The company operates 1,200 stores nationwide.

The Save-A-Lot model is to maintain low prices with a comparatively limited inventory and smaller stores -- Batavia's store is 18,000 square feet, which is large for a Save-A-Lot. The store also sells its own brands, such as Bubba's sodas, Malone's canned meats and Manita's pasta (names taken from actual people who work at corporate headquarters in Earth City, Mo.

"The Save-A-Lot format is to provide quality products at lower prices," Hedlund said.

Larson (top photo, left) said the produce and meat offered at Save-A-Lot are always fresh and of the highest grade available.

Victor Gautieri's family company owns the former Jubilee/Latina's building -- between Jackson and Court streets on Ellicott Street -- where the new store is located. There are still 22,000 square feet available for lease. Gautieri said he hopes it becomes a retail hub for downtown anchored by Save-A-Lot.

"From the word on the street, we're hearing people say this is a godsend for Downtown Batavia, " Gautieri said. "And we're finally getting this white elephant off the shoulders of the city."

Outgoing City Council President Marianne Clattenburg said, "We're very happy in the City of Batavia to finally have another grocery store downtown."

More than a dozen customers were in the store after the ribbon cutting to check out what it has to offer and buy a few items.

"I like it because I used to drive to Save-A-Lot in Le Roy, but that's too far to drive," Carla Laird said. "And it's hard to get to Tops a lot of times."

Billie Jo Laird said, "It's great for people who don't have a car and can't drive."

Hedlund said it's the goal of his company to help the communities they serve to thrive.

"The downtown area was missing a grocery store and it needed a grocery store," Hedlund said. "This is a great opportunity for us."

December 3, 2011 - 6:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Save-A-Lot.

Just in time to meet your Christmas dinner shopping needs, Save-A-Lot is opening in Downtown Batavia.

Planning opening is Dec. 21.

Victor Gautieri, of V.J. Gautieri Constructors, Inc., showed off the space for Save-A-Lot on Friday and said by next week, installation of shelves and cases will begin followed by inventory stocking.

"Save-A-Lot is definately going to fill a need," Gautieri said. "The demographics are perfet for a store like Save-A-Lot. It fits their model perfectly. We’re looking for a very, very successful store."

Gautieri said he expects the customers Save-A-Lot brings to the Ellicott Street location will mean more business for the shops in the immediate area.

"It’s going to be a beehive out in the parking lot," Gautieri said. "There’s going to be a lot of people in the area. We’re anticipating folks that are shopping here at Save-A-Lot, they’re going to go the banks, maybe go to Alberty Drugs, head over to Valle Jewelers, just hit this whole Court Street Plaza area, and hopefully extend out (to the rest of Downtown)."

The Gautieris are also hopeful that Save-A-Lot's success will help attract tenants to the additional 22,000 square feet of retail space available in the former Latina's/Jubilee/Montgomery Ward building.

The family owned construction and real estate company has been buying ads, putting out feelers, doing research and everything they can to find the right tenants for the west side of the building.

"We’re really pushing for retail," Gautieri said. "That’s what downtown Batavia needs is retail."

The 22,000 square feet of space can easily be partitioned into several storefronts, each with windows and doors on the west side of the building.

How the space will be partitioned off depends on what kinds of stores come forward and sign leases.

"We will tailor the space based on the particular tenant," Gautieri said. "It's going to be hard to tell (how the space will be configured). Everybody has their own requirements for their business. We’ll just build it to suit."

Right now the space is filled, both with all of the shelving and cases that will be moved into the Save-A-Lot store, along with leftover fixtures from Latina's. Once all of that is cleared out, Gautieri anticipates they can more effectively show the space to potential tenants.

August 13, 2011 - 1:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Latina's, Save-A-Lot.

Downtown Batavia can support a supermarket and a group of businessmen who have done the marketing research to prove it have entered into a lease agreement to open a Save-A-Lot in the former Latina's location on Ellicott Street.

The new store will be 18,000 square feet.

"These guys have really got their heads straight," said Vito Gautieri, the building's owner. "We were looking at another chain, but this one looked like the best deal. I think it will be really good for Downtown Batavia."

The Gautieri's own Washington Towers and Vito said the family recognized the need to bring a supermarket downtown, both for the sake of tenants at Washington Towers and also 400 Towers.

"We really need a supermarket downtown," Gautieri said.

In fact, said Gautieri, the family decided to pass on an offer from a discount retail chain that would have filled all 40,000 square feet of the building because the need seems so great to bring a supermarket to the space.

The ownership group, operating locally as Batavia Food, Inc., has three other Save-A-Lot locations. The other stores are in Wheatland, Salamanca and Bradford, Pa.

Save-a-Lots operates as a kind of co-op of locally licensed stores. The new owners of the planned Batavia store have no affiliation with the owners of the Le Roy Save-A-Lot.

Gautieri said the owners of the Le Roy store were given first crack at the Batavia location, but for some reason a deal couldn't be put together.

Now Gautieri and his son, Vic, need to work on getting a tenant for the remaining 22,000 square feet on the first floor. He said they already have a couple of solid leads on possible tenants.

Gautieri is still working on ideas about what to do with the second floor. The space is currently 15,000 square feet, but because the building was constructed to support warehouse space on the second floor, the second floor roof could be raised and the area expanded to 25,000 square feet.

If Gautieri decides to expand the second floor, the space would either become premium office space or residential apartments.

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