Batavia considers supporting 2 downtown biz projects

  • The city of Batavia is considering giving the owner of this building at 10 S. Shumway Ave., $319,000 to fix it up.

    The city of Batavia is considering giving the owner of this building at 10 S. Shumway Ave., $319,000 to fix it up. RICK WEST | Staff Photographer, 2010

Updated 12/14/2010 11:20 AM

The city of Batavia is considering loaning and giving money to the owners of two downtown properties, to improve them.

The matters will be discussed by the city council's community development committee Tuesday.


The first is a $168,330 loan to Don Robbins of Robbins Flowers for work at 143 S. Batavia Ave.

Robbins is adding four apartments on the upper floor of the building. But some issues with city codes added to the cost of the work, and his lending institution refused to lend him any more money, according to a report from assistant city administrator Randy Recklaus.

The building will also need some work to comply with the city's Significant Historical Building Conservation Program, according to the report.

Of the total, $112,298 would be to complete the apartments, and $56,032 would be for half of the building conservation work. The loan term is 2.5 percent for 60 months.

City workers believe the project is worthwhile because, among other things, it adds to the residential housing stock of downtown Batavia, something seen as key to improving commerce. The city does not have a formal policy on what projects should be eligible for tax-increment district funding, but has presented a draft policy to the CDC. The project meets the tenets of that proposed policy, including viability of the project, new income to be generated and inability to do it without city financing.

Robbins Flowers is in TIF District 3.

Also to be discussed is the case of the crumbling former Batavia Opera House at 10 S. Shumway Ave.

The owners are requesting a grant of $319,000 to fix it up. Architects Kluber Skahan bought the place in 2007 for $390,000, with the intent of adding a second story and opening restaurants and shops on the first floor; but two projects proposed since then were financially unfeasible, according to the firm. The firm, now known as Kluber Inc., proposes a $1.5 million rehabilitation. Analysis by city staff shows that, even with the city grant, the potential return on investment is likely to be -2.17 percent, due to low market rents and building value; after it is improved it may be valued at $740,000 to $925,000. Kluber intends to occupy the building itself. Without the city grant, the firm would not do the project, according to Recklaus' report. The city council approved a demolition permit for the 130-year-old building in 2008.

The city had about $1 million set aside in the TIF District 1 fund at the beginning of 2010.

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