Batavia Opportunity Area forum Wednesday

By Joanne Beck of The Daily News

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 12:00 am

BATAVIA — A redevelopment effort that began a few years ago will continue with a public forum next week.

The Batavia Opportunity Area program will most likely attract property owners and commercial and industrial investors with ideas for currently vacant sites in the city, Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte said.

“The BOA is a strategic real estate centric approach to breed new economic enthusiasm,” she said Thursday. “The project team of experts will be producing concept plans for specific properties based on practical market research and analysis.”

The public is invited to attend at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council Board Room, second floor, City Hall. Attendees will get a chance to review program information, meet the project team, ask questions and give input for future use, City Manager Jason Molino said.

The city first applied for a grant to pursue this in 2009. In spring of 2011, city leaders learned they had been awarded $266,508 from the Brownfield Opportunity Area Program. Often related to remediation clean-ups for pollution and contamination, the Brownfield program includes any property that is “underutilized,” Molino said.

During a council meeting this summer, Molino asked to use the grant money for LaBella Associates to narrow a scope of properties from 59 to 20 and conduct a site assessment and environmental review to help determine what would be the best use for each site.

The old Della Penna property on Ellicott Street is one example, he said, and City Centre is another.

One goal for this meeting is to identify “locally acceptable development ideas” and packaging incentives (such as grant money) that will motivate the redevelopment investment, Pacatte said.

Focus areas include downtown and the industrial corridor between Harvester Avenue and Liberty Street and in the Evans Street neighborhood.

Grant money went for the project team, which includes ELAN Planning Design Lanscape Architecture PLLC, Harris Beach Attorneys at Law PLLC, LaBella Associates, Modern Energy LLC and W-ZHA LLC, Pacatte said.

This meeting will be conducted with the Batavia Opportunity Area Steering Committee, which  includes members from city management, Batavia Development Corp., the Business Improvement District and Genesee County’s Chamber of Commerce and Planning Department.

Community input will be “acknowledged in the concept plans” and shared with the public and during an invite-only developers forum next spring, she said.

“Ultimately, having thoughtfully designed and professionally prepared site specific concept plans should help those property owners and investors in finding funding resources to make the redevelopment happen,” she said. “In turn, the community benefits by have the investment injection and inspired community revitalization.”

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