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updated: 12/5/2017 9:16 AM

Batavia mayor's 'yes' keeps One North Washington project alive

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Batavia will let the developer of the One North Washington project change its design to eliminate commercial space along Wilson Street.

Mayor Jeff Schielke voted "yes," breaking a 7-7 tie Monday night, to let Shodeen Inc. put apartments there instead and reduce the number of parking spaces in the project's garage.

But the council did not vote on proposed changes to a redevelopment agreement that would have the city fronting more money for construction.

The city's attorney, Kevin Drendel, said the agreement needs some technical "tweaking," including removing some language about actions that have already been accomplished.

He also said he needs to research whether the design changes are substantial enough that they need to be approved by the city's plan commission.

Aldermen Marty Callahan, Elliot Meitzler, Tony Malay, Nick Cerone, Mark Uher, Scott Salvati and Michael Russotto voted against allowing the revised design.

A revised redevelopment agreement won't be presented until January.

The city approved a redevelopment agreement in September 2016 by a 13-1 vote. The city is supplying the land, including the former First Baptist Church site, for a nominal charge. Shodeen agreed to build public parking because the current city parking deck would be demolished.

The city agreed to front at least $14 million, and as much as $16 million, of the costs of building the new public parking, with the cost to be paid back by property taxes from the development, either through an expected increase in taxes due to an increase in value or through a special-service levy on the property.

When the project was first proposed, its cost was estimated at $40 million. But when the first set of construction bids were sought this spring, they came in $6 million to $8 million higher, according to the developer.

Dave Patzelt, Shodeen's president, said the company made a mistake in estimating the cost of constructing partially-underground parking. There were also higher costs than expected for building commercial spaces along Wilson Street.

Shodeen then asked the city supply the $16 million up front. It also asked for the commercial space along Wilson Street to be changed to apartments.

At the Nov. 27 committee meeting, seven aldermen voted against pursuing a revised redevelopment agreement. Six voted in favor, and one was absent.

The project was protested by many Batavia residents, who said it would be too big and too tall, at plan commission and city council meetings. There were also objections to the city buying land for the project and turning it over to the developer, including paying much more than what two properties were valued at by appraisers.

The plan commission voted against a variance that would let the building be taller than allowed by city code, but the council approved it. The commission also denied the design, but the developer appealed to the city council. The council ordered the commission to reconsider its vote, saying it couldn't consider the height, the building size, or the parking.