Shodeen Project at Plan Commission Wednesday

Update: Zoning Overlay amendments approved 5-1. On to the City Council.

Design Review approved unanimously, with some changes to allow Staff to determine final parking space configuration and to work on making the Wilson St. ground floor apartment entrances more attractive.

Public hearing this Wednesday, April 18, 7pm, before the Plan Commission in City Council Chambers, on changes to Shodeen’s massive, 6-story 1 N. Washington apartments proposed for downtown Batavia. Main issues Wednesday are replacing retail on Wilson with apartments and parking lot configuration.

Read the document here:

Interestingly, the numbers keep changing. The recent Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) that split the Council 7-7, with the Mayor’s tie-breaking vote in favor, called for 194 apartments, 335 parking spaces. It has changed again, to 190 units, 365 parking spaces. But Staff says 365 parking spaces is not functionally feasible, but rather 343. And the traffic study says, “about 376 parking spaces, of which 319 spaces are to be available for public use”!? The original RDA was for 186 apartments, 351 parking spaces.

Even more interestingly, Staff is now recommending against the project unless the commercial space is restored on Wilson St.  (Who is “Staff” and why weren’t they against it before when the RDA was up for vote?)

And Shodeen wants the City to heat the parking garage so they don’t have to build in extra insulation for the apartments. Staff is recommending against it.

Will the Plan Commission again deny the variations requested? Will the City Council and Mayor again overrule the Plan Commission? Will everyone just get tired of Shodeen’s games and look for new proposals? Or will Shodeen get everything he wants? Go to Wednesday’s meeting and find out!

Please attend the meeting and add your voice to the public hearing. If only a few citizens show up, it looks like no one cares. The Campana project drew a lot of people (a lot of Genevans too), as did the Wind Energy light industrial proposal (a lot of Aurorans too), and both failed, but not nearly as many Batavians have shown up to speak against this project, and this is in the heart of Batavia. Geneva and Aurora don’t care about this one, so it’s all up to you. If you absolutely cannot make it, please send them an email, or better than an email, phone calls:

This is one of the last hurdles before construction can begin. Let your voice be heard.

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Revised Shodeen RDA Approved

Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, the new, revised Redevelopment Agreement between the City of Batavia and Shodeen’s LLC for the massive One Washington Place apartment complex was approved by a vote of 8-7, the City Council voting 7-7, with Mayor Schielke breaking the tie in favor of the project.

There will now be 194 apartments and only 335 parking spaces. There will be no retail along Wilson, but apartments at ground level, as well as on State St. The only retail space will be on River St where the current parking deck is.


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Shodeen Apartments on Council’s Agenda Tuesday Night

Update: The Batavia City Council/Committee of the Whole voted 7-6 to kill the project, BUT, one alderman, Susan Stark, was missing. She’s a likely YES vote, meaning Mayor Schielke would be the tie-breaker, and he fully supports it. Of course it depends on which aldermen show up for the official Council vote…. Also, it would have to go back through the whole application process, including the Plan Commission that denied approval before.  

The Batavia City Council will take up the proposed changes to the massive, 6-story, Shodeen/1 N Washington apartments project planned for downtown Batavia at Tuesday night’s COW meeting, 7:30pm.

You can read Chris Aiston (the City’s Economic Development Consultant) urge the Council to accept the changes here:

He says removing most of the retail space, adding more apartments (total 194), removing more parking spaces (total 335), and the City (i.e., taxpayers) spending 2 million more dollars (total $16 mil) will be a good thing, even better than the original proposal. Do you agree? Will the City Council?

If the City Council doesn’t agree to the changes, the project is dead and the doors will be opened for a new project and new developers at the corner of Wilson and Washington in downtown Batavia.

And as it turns out, Shodeen’s project is nothing unique to Batavia. Look what Oswego just approved, with the same look, the same $16 million city bonds contribution, much more parking, AND the commercial space Aiston and Shodeen say is not economically feasible for Batavia: . It’s even on the same street (Washington) in Oswego.

If you can’t make it to the meeting but would like to share your thoughts with the City Council, you can (respectfully) email the Council using the Contact button at right.

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City Budget Hearing Tonight

The City of Batavia will have their budget hearing tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 7:30pm. It was first unveiled last Thursday at a meeting not recorded by BATV.

Highlights: more tax increases

  • $300,000 in property taxes for sewers (tax impact <$15 for $350k house)
  • gasoline tax increase of $.01/gal (total $.04/gal)
  • water rate 3% (~$1/month)
  • sewer rate 6% (~$2.30/month)

Budget presentation here.
Detailed budget here.

The (home rule) gasoline tax appears to be their go-to tax to fill budget gaps. It has increased annually in recent years and is one of those hidden taxes that you pay but don’t see directly, as you would on your property or utility bills. But if you buy gas in Batavia, you pay it. If you put 15 gallons of gas into your car at a Batavia station, you will pay 60 cents in tax this coming year…each time you fill up. It adds up.

Meanwhile, last year they spent over $3 million in TIF District projects, most of that for property purchases and parking lot construction for the 1 N. Washington project. The TIFs are in debt, with money borrowed from the General Fund.

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Shodeen Project Special Meeting Wednesday

Update: Discussion will continue Tuesday night, 10/17, 7:30pm at the next COW meeting. It appeared several aldermen were swayed by the sales pitch of Shodeen’s Representative, while a few remained unhappy with the loss of commercial space on Wilson and seemed willing to let Shodeen walk away.

There is a special Committee of the Whole meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7:30pm, for the Batavia City Council to discuss proposals by Shodeen to make changes to the One North Washington project. The agenda document can be found here.

Because construction estimates are coming in $6-8 million above initial estimates, Shodeen is proposing changes. The proposed changes include:

Adding 8 new residential units (new total 194) to the ground level on Wilson and State Streets, thereby eliminating all the proposed new retail/commercial space on Wilson and narrowing the sidewalk on State. New business storefronts would go only on River St where the garage now is, eliminating over 60% of the proposed retail that was supposed to make this a “mixed use” development. AND it would eliminate 15 parking spaces, reducing the total to 335, to supply parking for 194 apartments and all the businesses downtown. AND Shodeen now wants $16 million instead of $14 million in taxpayer-backed General Obligation bonds.

Shodeen’s representative “has informed staff that his company cannot and will not build the approved project”. Continue reading

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2018 School District Budget Public Hearing

Tonight, Tuesday, 8/22, 7pm, at the BPS 101 Administration Building on Wilson St., is the public hearing for the 2018 District Budget. As usual, they are assuming a maximum tax levy increase (around 2% + new construction), with total expenditures around $104 million.

Continue reading

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School Board to Discuss Tentative Budget

Tuesday, July 18, 7pm, the School Board will discuss their tentative budget for the new school year. As usual, the budget assumes maximum tax increases, capped only by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), this year expected to be around 2%.

The current Tentative Budget (prior to discussion) can be found here.

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Plan Commission Approves Shodeen Design

According to a report by Susan Sarkauskas of the Daily Herald (5/4/17), the Batavia Plan Commission came to an agreement with Shodeen on the design of the massive 1 N. Washington apartments project. Shodeen would add more red to the Wilson and River Street facades, tone down some of the yellow, match downspouts to adjacent trim colors, and add some stone trim to the roof at the corner that is supposed to remind people of the historic Baptist church bell tower they will tear down. Shodeen refused to add more masonry or make changes to the gables, which were suggested to reduce the appearance of bulk.

Their approval means the project can continue forward, following a “stamp of approval” from the Historic Preservation Commission. From the article:

“We’re not supposed to talk about traffic, parking, mass, height. It really ties our hands,” commission chairman Tom LaLonde said…..

Commissioners Wednesday repeatedly said they felt they had to vote affirmatively on the design because of the city council’s instruction.

“Obviously, that’s all we are allowed to talk about this evening is color,” Commissioner Gene Schneider said.

Former Aldermanic Candidate Carl Dinwiddie, who was at the entire meeting, commented, “This whole process has been subverted from the beginning, so this decision is no surprise.”


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Shodeen 1 N. Washington Appeal

Update: City Council sent it back to the Plan Commission for further cooperative deliberation with Shodeen. Plan Commission was instructed to not consider the height, mass, or general design of the building, as Council has declared those aspects a done deal.

On March 15, the Batavia Plan Commission unanimously rejected the design for the massive Shodeen apartment complex proposal at Washington and Wilson in downtown Batavia. Shodeen is appealing to the City Council this Tuesday, April 11, 7:30pm (Agenda here).

The Plan Commission recommended public comments be brought straight to the City Council regarding the design, rather than take up more of their time at the Plan Commission meeting. It’s not fair that the PC holds public hearings and listens to the public, only to have the City Council overturn their decisions without being required to hear what their constituents have to say. So if you have any final comments about the building, please bring them to the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday. The design–size, color, shape, materials, etc.–could be finalized after this Tuesday’s COW meeting and then the official vote, presumably at the next City Council meeting the following Monday. The COW is where most discussions take place. City Council meetings are usually rubber stamp time. (Information packet for the appeal is here)

It is obvious Shodeen is making an end-run around the Plan Commission (Shodeen didn’t even bring in samples of materials, as every other developer does, for the Commission to review, and they got approval from the Council of “Option 2” before having gone through the Plan Commission whose job it is to review design and whose vote on design is binding, though appealable). They’re going to a Council that has already indicated they will ram this thing through no matter what. So if it’s already a done deal, why bother to comment? Because if you don’t take the time to comment, you forfeit the right to complain when it’s built.

If you can’t make Tuesday’s COW or the Monday Council meeting where it will be finalized, you can email comments using the “City Council” button at right.

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