Batavia aldermen weren't thrilled Wednesday night to be talking again about the One North Washington apartment development that they approved months ago. And some came in skeptical that changes proposed by the developer, to increase revenue and decrease cost, would appeal to them.
But after a presentation Wednesday on the changes, some indicated they are willing to consider them, and to consider supplying more money upfront to help build the public parking part of it.
"I'm pleasantly surprised by what you have come up with. I believe we have a better-looking building than we had originally," Alderman Dan Chanzit said.
"I feel like this is a better project. I wish we would have seen it first."
Shodeen Inc., the developer, underestimated the cost to build the project. It thought it could be done for $40 million, but more recent construction estimates came in $6 million to $8 million higher.
Shodeen Inc. wants to take out the commercial space on the Wilson Street side of the building, and some parking space on the State Street side, and replace it with apartments. The apartments, while fronting a busy street, would have private outdoor patios.
"I apologize. I'm sorry. It's my fault," Dave Patzelt, president of Shodeen said, of the underestimate. One factor was using a wrong figure, per space, for building parking spaces. The cost is about 50 percent higher than was planned.
Alderman Michael O'Brien called the apology "cavalier," but that he could support the changes.
The city has agreed to borrow at least $14 million, and as much as $16 million if needed, for public improvements, most of which would be a new parking garage for the building's residents and the public. Shodeen wants the city to borrow the full $16 million. The bonds would be paid back by an increase in property taxes, a special assessment and the company.
Patzelt said the retail spaces on Wilson would be complicated by the change in grade from Washington Street to River Street, and the higher ceilings commercial entities want. That would require putting the parking underneath the stores 4 feet deeper than the garage underneath the rest of the building. "It is expensive space for a little bit of rent," he said, based on what commercial space rents for in downtown Batavia.
Any changes would likely require new hearings before the city's Historic Preservation Commission and the Plan Commission, according to Scott Buening, the city's community development director.
Aldermen will continue the discussion Oct. 17.