Batavia considering TIF district to redevelop church block

  • A tax-incentive district is being considered to prompt redevelopment of the former First Baptist Church property, and others nearby, at Route 25 and Wilson Street in Batavia.

    A tax-incentive district is being considered to prompt redevelopment of the former First Baptist Church property, and others nearby, at Route 25 and Wilson Street in Batavia. Daily Herald file photo/2013

 
 

Batavia may offer tax-based financial incentives to spur redevelopment of the former First Baptist Church and nearby properties.

It is studying whether the area around the church, at Wilson Street and Route 25, would qualify to become a tax-increment financing district.

A project has been proposed, according to Chris Aiston, the city's economic development director. But he was "not at liberty" to say what company or person. Aiston said the project would be a mix of commercial uses, residences and public parking.

TIF District 5 would take nine parcels out of the current TIF Districts 1 and 3. Other parcels include the city's parking deck, an insurance office, a dental office and a vacant gasoline station.

Aiston presented the idea to the Batavia school board Tuesday night. If the city goes forward with the district, it wants a waiver from the school district related to money that would have to be set aside for the school district. The city anticipates it would borrow money to provide financial aid to developers, and without the waiver of the school district fee, the amount it could borrow would not be enough to secure the development, Aiston said.

He said the project would require demolition of buildings, and remediation of some environmental hazards. "those are extraordinary costs most private developments (on vacant land) don't require," he said.

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Aiston said he expects to be done with a TIF eligibility study in three to four weeks. The study is the first, required step in the process of creating a TIF district. It includes cataloging the properties and the buildings on them, and determining their condition and value, among other tasks.

The city bought the church in 2006. The congregation had moved to a site west of town. When the city bought the church, the state was talking about using part of the site to straighten out a jog on Route 25. That idea has been dropped.

The city has tried to sell the church, and it has solicited development proposals. It had an economic feasibility report suggesting what could be done with the block in 2009 and updated in 2013.

Also in 2013, it studied the condition of the church buildings. A report indicated to make the building fully accessible to disabled people, and repair items including the roof, windows and foundation, would cost about $3.5 million.

The sanctuary was built in 1889. Two office and classroom buildings were added in the 1930s and 1950s.

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