Tax Code Change at Heart of Plan to Revitalize Batavia's Downtown
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"I remember when, before urban renewal came in here,” said Vito Gautieri.
Those were different days in Batavia, in the 1950s and 60s, with a character-rich, old Main Street.
"Our company did most of the demolition of the old buildings that were here,” Gautieri said.
It’s now half-replaced today by a parking lot and mall.
"The study that the city did shows that the mall now has not – is not a retail area anymore."
But Gautieri, a downtown property owner, and the City of Batavia, are both hoping to bring retail back. Gautieri, with a sweeping redevelopment plan at his downtown property; the city, with a new amendment to the tax code. That amendment would grant tax breaks to downtown property owners who redevelop their commercial space into residential apartments.
"Some of the initial initiatives that we're working on, along with the Business Improvement District, is to redevelop some of the second-and-third-floor stories in downtown,” said Jason Molino, city manager.
Like how it used to be: business on the first floor; apartments, above. An old downtown warehouse serves as an example.
"It's in the downtown area, it's a commercial use now...what we would like to see is a possible mixed-use,” said Molino.
The Batavia City School District and Genesee County Legislature are currently considering similar tax plans. Together, they could eliminate all taxes on eligible properties for a dozen years; close to $100,000 savings, for some.
"If it includes the county taxes and the school taxes, it'll be helpful. If it doesn't, it competes against a state program,” said Gautieri.
“So we have to analyze which one is going to be of more benefit to us."
Either way, it's a chance for Gautieri to reconcile with demolishing downtown 50 years ago – by bringing back, what's been lost.
"The more people they can bring to downtown, the better for Batavia."