Successful Implementation of Ellicott Station BOA Project
Feb 1, 2017
News of a $1.9 million Regional Economic Development Council grant award on 12/8/16 followed by a $500,000 Restore New York Communities Initiative award on 1/26/17 to the Batavia Development Corporation and City of Batavia to assist Savarino Companies with site/infrastructure and building renovation/construction of the $17 million Ellicott Station Project, represent the final public components of a multi-year targeted economic development strategy to redevelop that downtown, brownfield parcel. The Ellicott Station land, located within the Batavia downtown Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA), was one of five strategic sites identified by the City through its brownfield planning work.
Beginning in 2012, Harris Beach PLLC was chosen as part of the consultant team to provide economic development and financing consulting services for the City BOA. The firm’s scope of work included organization of a community education Developer’s Forum where real estate developers could learn firsthand how infill and development sites could be lucrative development projects. The forum also highlighted the various incentive tools available to use on brownfield sites and to showcase available properties. While Savarino Companies, the preferred developer of the Ellicott Station parcel, seized the Request for Proposal (RFP) opportunity, 60 others attended the event and now patiently wait for the next BOA site to be made available.
Under a separate follow-up agreement, Harris Beach also worked with the Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) to specifically implement the redevelopment goals of the BOA. The concept behind using the BDC was so that certain properties (such as Ellicott Station) could be conveyed from the municipality to the BDC, a local development corporation, with a follow-on issuance of a RFP for that parcel’s redevelopment. The BDC would also help steer BOA planning, public input, strategic site selection, redevelopment planning and facilitate application to the NY Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), which was accepted in June of 2015.
Another significant action contributing to the overall Project progress was the City of Batavia’s use of their BOA study money to undertake an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) on the Ellicott Station property in order to determine that the site was indeed contaminated and BCP eligible. The City obtained an in rem default foreclosure judgement on one of the parcels and conveyed the property to the BDC, which then allowed the BDC to proactively apply/obtain BCP acceptance (thus taking the environmental unknowns out of the equation) and achieve NYS BCP Tax Credit eligibility. This pre-certified BCP effort resulted in a much better response from developers when the RFP for developers was issued, ultimately leading to the selection of Savarino Companies to undertake the Ellicott Station project.
Also critical and unprecedented to advancing the Ellicott Station redevelopment was the formation of a partnership amongst the BDC, the City of Batavia, Genesee County Economic Development Center (GEDC), Genesee County and the Batavia City School district. This partnership created the “Batavia Pathway to Prosperity” (BP2) program that establishes a special fund aimed at matching private investment and redevelopment of vacant or underutilized, and difficult-to-develop properties on the city’s 366-acre BOA. This partnership resulted in an agreement for the city, county and school to allow for a portion of the future property tax payments through a Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) agreement for future GCEDC projects to be placed into a new fund that would reinvest in and incentivize redevelopment projects in the BOA. Highly distressed census tracts enable the GCEDC/IDA to fully leverage general municipal law inducing a variety of projects.
Late in 2016, to better position itself to obtain $1.9 million Regional Economic Development Council grant award, Harris Beach and the BDC prepared a resolution adopted by each taxing jurisdictions encouraging various New York State agencies to consider the Ellicott Station project as a transformational initiative in the Finger Lakes Region, thus assisting in the implementation of the first Department of State sponsored City of Batavia BOA initiative. The resolution respectfully requested that Empire State Development favorably consider the CFA grant and the Restore New York grant for the Phase I component of the Ellicott Station project, both of which now have been successfully awarded.
After nearly five years of planning, the successful implementation of the Ellicott Station BOA redevelopment and remediation is poised to begin as the structure and funding for the Ellicott Station Project is now in place. Development is expected to begin in Spring, 2017.