BATAVIA — As work went on upstairs inside Ellicott Place, the $3.15 million development project it was time, Friday, to formally mark the start of construction of this retail, commercial and residential space at 45-47 Ellicott St.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul joined developer Victor Gautieri and local leaders to officially kick things off on a cool, windy afternoon. The development, to include about 18,000 square feet of space on the first floor to lease to commercial tenants, first-floor covered parking and elevator access to the second floor, and 10 second-floor apartments, was awarded $1.15 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) funds by the state.

“We’re starting to see the ground-breakings, the ribbon-cuttings, the signs of life. This project here today is a manifestation of what a million (dollars) from the state can do,” Hochul said. “It could transform an empty building that could fall into disrepair and blight. Instead, it’s going to be a shining example of what one community can do when they believe in themselves.”

The area is coming back strong, she said.

“To be able to build a project like this during a global pandemic, when other areas are completely shut down, we are continuing to show our commitment to bringing back downtowns all over places like Batavia. It’s also going to result in 30 jobs. I was just here a couple of weeks ago announcing workforce development money for the local medical center (United Memorial Medical Center), talking about getting more people into those careers.”

Gautieri, president of V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc., previously said the only work that might have to be postponed, depending on the weather, would be certain exterior work.

“The construction phase, as you can see, is well underway. Crews are working diligently to try to beat the weather and also to overcome challenges that always exist with any type of renovation project,” he said Friday. “We’re excited to bring about transformation of the property and to the positive impact that this development is going to have on downtown behavior.”

Gautieri thanked the city of Batavia, the Genesee County Economic Development Center, Batavia Development Corporation and others for their support during the DRI application process, along with Mark Dean and Dean Architects, PLLC, of Depew for the work they’ve done.

“Most importantly, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this — I’d like to recognize my father, Vito Gautieri. He’s the driving force behind this project,” Victor Gautieri said. “Nearly 10 years ago, when this building was purchased and Save A Lot moved in as the anchor tenant, he had a vision of creating a mixed-use development, combining ... commercial, retail and high-quality residential apartments on the second floor. My family has worked in development for many, many years and my father’s vision for this property is now becoming a reality.”

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said the dilapidated building built by V.J. Gautieri Constructors had served its useful life.

“Now it’s getting reborn with apartments on top and the commercial and retail space below. It’s going to be awesome for someone to be able to live up there and walk down and, in one minute, be anywhere downtown and have a dinner or a beverage or just enjoy the Ellicott Trail right nearby here,” Jankowski said.

Jankowski said he and City Council are excited about this project.

“This is one of the first major projects on the DRI that jumped into the whole mix. Victor’s been very enthusiastic about getting it started,” he said. “I’m looking forward to when it’s complete and I can drive by here from the south side and see the beautiful building that will be here.”

GCEDC President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Hyde said housing continues to be key.

“To get the most out of our industrial development strategies we’ve had success on, you’ve got to have those critical pieces — your vibrant urban centers, place-making housing — and this (Ellicott Place) does it all. It embodies the effort of all the partners who make this happen,” he said.

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein began her remarks by telling Hochul, “Our community is really taking being safe very seriously, because this COVID is not going to be the hurdle that stops us from investing in ourselves. We are being strategic and we are partnering with all levels of government and we are providing amazing dividends together.

“The DRI investment perfectly timed having a project like this in our downtown, answers to a lot of our needs, especially with housing, but the impact will be felt for years and years,” Stein said. “There’s over $60 million of projects happening right now in downtown Batavia. In the coming years, this shows that these investments are investments with a real deep meaning. The fact that we are not far from celebrating this project’s completion and seeing residents on that second floor, new activity on the first floor and a beautiful gateway to the city’s front door.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “It’s a bright day in Batavia and there are brighter days ahead, because this COVID pandemic, at some juncture in the not-too-distant future, will be behind us. We are resilient. We will continue to do what Americans and New Yorkers do and that is to succeed despite things going on around us in a negative way.”

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