Batavia neighborhood upgrade could cost $20.9 million

Posted7/29/2015 5:30 AM

It could cost as much as $20.9 million to improve a Batavia neighborhood to halt a decline in property values and instead increase its value, according to a report presented Tuesday night to the Batavia city council committee.

But if all goes according to the draft plan for the area, which is on the city's west side, the work could increase property values by 585 percent.


Kon Savoy, of the planning firm Teska Associates Inc., presented the draft of a redevelopment plan for the West Town area. The city council would have to establish a tax increment financing district to fund it.

West Town is roughly encompassed by Wilson Street, Walnut Street, Lincoln Street and Van Nortwick Avenue. It is about 27 acres, with 85 parcels of land and 51 primary buildings.

The next step is to form a joint review board made up of representatives of all taxing bodies that would be affected if a TIF district is established. Savoy suggested doing that in October.

After that would be a public hearing, then a vote by the city council.

"This is an important step in trying to get some things happening there," Alderman Alan Wolff said.

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The area includes houses, duplexes, stores, a former gas station, an automobile-repair garage and factories.

The TIF district was proposed shortly after the MasterCast foundry at Mallory Avenue and First Street was destroyed by fire in March 2014.

When an area is designated as a TIF district, property taxes paid to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax money collected within the area goes into a special fund controlled by the city. The money in the fund then can be used to help pay for certain improvements to existing properties and public infrastructure, such as streets and sewers, or to assemble properties in packages for redevelopment, among other things.

At the end of the TIF term, the taxing districts start receiving property taxes based on the updated value of the property.

The plan envisions a mix of commercial and residential uses, including possibly building townhouses as well as condominiums above businesses.

According to Savoy, property values in the proposed district have declined in four of the last five years.

City Administrator Bill McGrath sought to allay concerns that, if implemented, the plan would force current businesses to change or move.

"We are very sensitive to not doing this in a way that people who are actually conducting business there, if they want to continue doing that, they can do that until they make an economic decision to do something else," McGrath said.

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