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updated: 7/12/2016 6:09 AM

$40 million plan for downtown Batavia block

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  • The former First Baptist Church in Batavia would be torn down as part of a $40 million plan to build apartments, a parking garage and stores at Wilson Street and Washington Avenue.

    The former First Baptist Church in Batavia would be torn down as part of a $40 million plan to build apartments, a parking garage and stores at Wilson Street and Washington Avenue.
    Daily Herald file photo/2013

 
 
Editor's note: This story has been updated to say the proposed building will be six stories tall.

A six-story building with 171 apartments, a 300-space parking garage, and stores is envisioned for the block in downtown Batavia where the empty First Baptist Church stands.

Geneva-based property developer Shodeen has developed a $40 million concept, called One North Washington Place, for the site at Washington Avenue and Wilson Street.

And the plan calls for the city to borrow up to $13 million to make it work.

The concept, including preliminary drawings, is part of a redevelopment agreement proposal aldermen will discuss Tuesday night.

Key to the project is demolishing the church, including its 127-year-old sanctuary. The city bought the property from the congregation in 2006 when it thought the land would be needed for a state-planned effort to straighten a jog in Route 25.

That plan was dropped, and the city has been trying to unload the building since.

The proposal also calls for the city to buy two properties next to it, at 113 and 121 E. Wilson, and demolish the dental and insurance offices on them, plus another nearby small, empty commercial building and the city parking deck at River and State streets.

The city would then sell those lots to the developer, along with the church, for a nominal fee.

A 2013 report by engineers indicated the First Baptist buildings needed at least $900,000 in repairs, including stabilizing the sanctuary building. The city has limited the amount of people who can be in the sanctuary at one time to just a handful, because the main beam supporting the floor has a major crack.

The proposed redevelopment agreement calls for the city to borrow up to $13 million to reimburse the developer for expenses related to public improvements for the site, mostly the building of the parking garage.

City officials envision paying for the loans with money set aside from the increase in property tax dollars expected from improving the properties, by creating a tax-increment financing district.

Aldermen will discuss the proposed TIF district Tuesday also.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Batavia Government Center, 100 N. Island Ave.

The proposals can be found on the city's website under "Agendas and Minutes."

Historical perspective

The Historic Preservation Commission met Monday to discuss whether to approve demolishing the church.

"I could feel the floor trembling," Historic Preservation Commission Phil Bus said Monday of visiting the sanctuary during an open house in 2013.

Commissioners must conduct a second meeting on the matter before voting. They said they want information about whether the church's bell tower and steeple can be retained as part of any future development.