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updated: 10/9/2017 7:56 AM

Batavia alderman skeptical on a fix for One North Washington plan

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  • The former First Baptist Church of Batavia was demolished to make way for the One North Washington project.

    The former First Baptist Church of Batavia was demolished to make way for the One North Washington project.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 

Batavia aldermen will sit down with a representative from Shodeen Inc. at a special meeting Wednesday to figure out what to do about the stalled One North Washington project.

Construction of the building, which is to have apartments, stores and a parking garage, has been delayed because cost estimates came in much higher than originally anticipated.

"Shodeen is adamant in its interest in pursuing this project, but at the same time, understanding the project can't be fully built with the current design and current revenues," Shodeen President Dave Patzelt said Friday.

One of the factors is the cost of parking spaces to be built in a garage. Patzelt said Shodeen admits to an error in underestimating that. It used a figure of $23,500 per space, but since part of the garage would be underground, the cost is $35,000 to $36,000.

Patzelt also said inflation, between the time the project was proposed and now, is a factor.

Minor adjustments in materials won't make up the difference, Patzelt said. "Dramatic" changes to the design and the revenue are needed, he said.

"We hope that the council will understand that and be open-minded," Patzelt said.

Batavia Alderman Dave Brown is skeptical that the council will be willing to accept some changes the developer has proposed to cut the cost, or that the city offer more financial incentives for it.

"This isn't the first rodeo this developer has been to. He knows how to forecast cost," Brown told fellow aldermen Tuesday. "My personal idea is it is going to sink and die."

Brown said constituents have been telling him that while they like the project, they don't want the design changed, and they don't want the city cost increased.

The city has agreed to borrow at least $14 million, and potentially $16 million under certain circumstances, to pay some of the upfront costs, including that of building a new parking garage. The city would be reimbursed from increases in taxes on the property after it is developed, since it is in a tax-increment financing district. There is also an agreement in place for a special service area tax to be instituted if the TIF revenues aren't sufficient.

According to city Administrator Laura Newman, the developer is suggesting the city borrow the full $16 million at once.

The development was initially expected to cost about $40 million when it was proposed in 2015. Construction estimates are now $6 million to $8 million higher.

One idea is to add more apartments by taking out some of the commercial space envisioned for the first floor on the Wilson Street side, and some of the parking in the garage. Alderman Lucy Thelin Atac said she would like to see a pro and con list for that.

The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at the Batavia Government Center, 100 N. Island Ave.