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updated: 7/15/2016 10:38 AM

Batavia considering proposed apartments, parking project

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  • The former First Baptist Church buildings at Route 25 and Wilson Street might be torn down to make way for a new development.

    The former First Baptist Church buildings at Route 25 and Wilson Street might be torn down to make way for a new development.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

What would it take to get apartments, a parking garage and shops built on the eastern edge of downtown Batavia?

Donations of land from the city, and about $13 million of property tax investment, according to officials from Batavia and the Shodeen property development company.

Aldermen this week reviewed a summary of a redevelopment agreement between the city and Shodeen.

The $40 million One North Washington Place proposal calls for a six-level structure that would contain 171 apartments, 300 parking spaces and some retail space, at Washington Avenue and Wilson Street. It would replace the current city parking deck, three business buildings and the former First Baptist Church.

The city would borrow money to reimburse the developer for up to $13 million in construction costs, the majority of which would be for building the parking garage. Property taxes from the new development would repay the city. If normal property taxes fell short, the city would activate a special assessment on the property to make up the difference, explained Chris Aiston, the city's economic development consultant

The city is considering creating a tax-incentive financing district for the area that includes the project.

In a TIF district, property-tax payments to taxing bodies are frozen for up to 23 years. Any increase in taxes is put into a fund controlled by the city to pay for work in the district that improves property values. The proposal calls for the TIF funds to repay the city loans, for example.

Right now, the church, the parking deck, two parking lots and an empty commercial building don't generate property taxes, because the city owns them. Two other buildings pay about $6,800 a year total.

Shodeen estimates its project could generate about $800,000 a year in property taxes.

Putting property back on the tax rolls pleased aldermen, as did the prospect of having more people living in the downtown and presumably shopping at its stores and eating at its restaurants.

"I can't see how we don't say 'We need to do this and we need to do this now,'" Alderman Alan Wolff said.

Alderman Kevin Botterman asked why the city should subsidize the project by giving land away. Besides what it owns now, the city would buy the other two buildings, then give them all to the developer. One belongs to former alderman Eldon Frydendall.

Aiston said the city had another consultant review the developer's financial information about the project. That firm agreed that without the city aid, the project is financially unfeasible for the developer. Council members will get to review the financial information when they vote on the formal agreement, which is expected in August.

"Even with a TIF it is a difficult project, and the market is very, very tight," said David Patzelt, president of Shodeen.