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updated: 1/3/2018 9:25 AM

Batavia mayor breaks tie on revised downtown apartment project

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With Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke's help, there's a new deal for financing and construction of the One North Washington apartment building.

He cast a tiebreaking vote Tuesday on a revised development agreement between the city and the developer, Shodeen Inc.

But it still doesn't mean construction will start soon. The changes Shodeen has proposed are substantial enough that the project will have to be reviewed again by the city's plan commission, city administrator Laura Newman confirmed Tuesday.

Alderman Michael O'Brien voted in favor of the new agreement. "It is a $50 million investment in our downtown. That is huge," he said. "We have invested too much time and too much effort into this development to let it go along the wayside."

But the alderman to his left, Marty Callahan, voted "no." He said it wasn't because of financial changes but the changes in the building: more apartments, fewer parking spaces and less commercial space than was originally approved. In particular, retail was removed from the Wilson Street frontage, contrary to what the city's comprehensive plan calls for.

"This is not the style that I think will fit that in the long run," Callahan said.

The council approved the original agreement in September 2016 by a 13-1 vote.

The city will supply the land for the development. Shodeen is building a replacement city parking garage, as the current deck will be demolished.

In the old agreement, the city agreed to front at least $14 million toward the project, and as much as $16 million, with the amount to be paid back by property taxes from the development. The taxes could come from an expected increase in taxes due to an increase in value of the property, or through a special-service-area levy.

The new agreement sets that at $16 million right away. It still includes repayment through property taxes, but it also includes a provision for Shodeen to make cash payments in the first few years. That's because the parking garage will be built first and it won't generate property taxes.

The developer had asked for more support because it underestimated the cost of construction when it first proposed the project. Having more apartments will increase income, and building fewer parking spaces will cut costs.