Another piece of the puzzle for the One North Washington Place development fell into place Monday night, as the Batavia City Council decided to spend $600,000 to buy a small property for the plan.
It voted 12-1 to buy the property at 113 E. Wilson St. The one-story building houses Michael Fisher's dental practice. The price includes $250,000 to move the business.
"This was a highly discussed issue, and it was a soul-searching event on the part of the city council," Mayor Jeff Schielke said.
Those discussions took place behind closed doors. The purchase was not discussed during open sessions of council committee-of-the-whole meetings, a point raised by resident Carl Dinwiddie, who spoke against the purchase.
The development proposed by 1 North Washington Place, LLC, a Shodeen subsidiary, would include 181 apartments, some retail spaces and a parking garage.
The city has bought properties along Wilson Street and Washington Avenue. The redevelopment agreement with the company calls for the city to sell all the sites, plus the current city parking deck, to the developer for $10.
The city would also pay for demolition of the buildings, environmental cleanup and construction of the parking garage, potentially borrowing up to $14 million to do so. The city would ultimately own the garage.
The city properties involved include the former First Baptist Church, bought in 2006 when the congregation moved to a new building west of town; a former industrial building, bought in 2013; and the Batavia Insurance building, bought Sept. 6. The city will have spent almost $1.7 million for the sites.
The city's appraiser estimated the value of the Fisher property at $75,000. But because he was not allowed in the building, he assumed the interior was in fair condition and suitable for offices. According to a city memo, the owner's attorney said it was worth $350,000 because it is outfitted for a dental practice.
Alderman Kevin Botterman voted against the purchase. Alderman Marty Callahan was absent, recovering from an appendectomy.
The only comment from aldermen came from Susan Stark, who spoke after three residents spoke against the purchase and urged the council to slow down the project. The last was Sylvia Keppel, who cited concerns about parking and traffic, and mentioned the city's 2009 rejection of another congregation's offer to buy the church.
Stark had criticized Keppel Sept. 6, saying some remarks that night had filled her with so much rage that she had stopped listening.
Stark said Monday that when people talk about city business, be it at a council meeting or on social media, they should "preface it with 'in my opinion' ... instead of passing it off as fact."
"That way we can distinguish what is the truth about the project and what is an opinion."
Site: City will pay for demolition, cleanup