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Downtown Revitalization Initiative prepares for implementation
BATAVIA, NY – The City of Batavia is advancing the Downtown Revitalization (DRI) Initiative to create a vibrant sustainable city that is inclusive of all ages and socioeconomic situations. The $10 million DRI funding investment will be concentrated in the downtown area and eight priority projects are moving forward. The $10 million DRI will have a direct return of $60 million of private investment into the community.
"City Council has ramped up engagement of our community and businesses over the last few years with the Batavia Opportunity Area planning, the Comprehensive Plan and the DRI," said Eugene Jankowski, City of Batavia Council President. "We're now ready to move into the implementation stage with the DRI projects and onward with our vision for a better Batavia," said Jankowski.
The Governor’s DRI competition is in the third year. The program’s funds foster transformative projects in downtown neighborhoods. Here in Batavia eight projects were selected for funding; including the YMCA Healthy Living Campus, The Mall, Jackson Square, Ellicott Station, Carr’s, Harvester 56 Theater, a Building Improvement Fund, and Ellicott Place (Save-A-Lot building).
“Each of these projects is critical to the success of Batavia as a place that encourages arts, culture and entertainment, healthy living, and prosperity for all,” said Matt Worth, Interim City Manager. “The city will be working hard to execute on the Mall and Jackson Square projects and assisting the other winners in the process,” said Worth.
There are parts of Batavia that are designated as highly distressed with higher than average unemployment and poverty. However, the DRI, combined with the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2), a program to reinvest PILOT payments from all taxing jurisdictions directly into highly distressed areas, will help to combat poverty and revitalize brownfield sites. These programs offer a long-term solution to reduce blight, build the economy, and provide prosperity for all.
The DRI project investments will bring immediate change that you will be able to see and feel within the next year to five years. Grant winners will be working with state agencies soon to enter into formal grant agreements. The Batavia Development Corporation is hopeful that the $600,000 Building Improvement Fund ‘applications to property owners’ will be ready in the late fall. The grant will reimburse up to 60% of a project, and awards will range from $10,000 to $200,000, with eligible activities including facades, window/ door repair and replacement, painting, masonry repair, awnings, building signs, exterior lighting, storefront upgrades, roofs, and interior upgrades (heating, plumbing, electrical, walls, floors).
Rachael Tabelski, Director of Economic Development of the BDC said, “The BDC is excited to get moving with Building Improvement Fund grant program. As soon as the state contracts are signed we will be able to communicate the terms and application process with property owners in the BID. We will be reaching out with direct mail, email, and public meetings.”
Beth Kemp, Director of the Downtown Batavia Improvement District said, “As director of the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) and having three of the City’s five brownfield sites within our downtown, we are committed to vision and strategy of making Batavia a more vibrant downtown."
Bob Bausch, Chairman of the Genesee County Legislature said, “The DRI funding, combined with the other initiatives of the City and the County’s economic development agencies will continue to have long-lasting positive results for our community. The County continues to support economic development and private sector investment.”
Patrick Burk, Batavia City School Board President said, “At the school we are working hard to link kids with careers including STEM, trades, agriculture and other industries that are growing in the Finger Lakes, but we still have a dire number of students living in poverty and walking by brownfield sites every day. We understand and support the value of getting our downtown aligned as a safe friendly place for students to live and play.”
Steve Hyde, President and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center said, “The Governor’s DRI competition gives Batavia an amazing opportunity to grow quickly and meet the needs and the demands that the development community will soon be putting on the city as the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP) starts its build-out. As a City of Batavia resident, I could not be more thrilled to be a part of the resurgence in Batavia and across our community. The creative class that will be attracted to WNY STAMP will demand city living with arts, culture and entertainment.”