Batavia City Centre is in a “really good place” for the city to consider selling off vacant properties, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.
She endorsed the move during this week’s City Council meeting as a first step toward relieving the city of unnecessary assets. Or maybe it’s a second step, after securing an appraiser to review the properties and provide estimated pricetags for each.
Tabelski asked council to first approve the expense of $5,400 for the appraisal services of Rynne Murphy before she can proceed with putting the properties on the selling block.
“There are several interested businesses that are looking at properties inside City Centre mall,” Tabelski said. “Currently the city would like to take steps to divest of the City Centre properties, however, more important we want to see them in productive use, such as the theater in which the city is continuing to rent space to.”
The city will not cease its responsibilities for the 46,000 square-foot mall concourse, and will continue to maintain that space, she said.
Tabelski was asked why the city can’t go with the assessed values available online, and why an appraiser was needed.
“We need the market value according to the Charter,” she said, backed up by City Attorney George Van Nest.
The city Charter mandates use of an appraised value versus what has been assessed, they said.
The Charter includes several statements about selling city-owned property, including this from Section 66:
“Where there is a strong showing of competitive developer interest for large or unique parcels, the land shall be sold employing a request for proposal process,” the passage states. “A price shall be obtained from a licensed independent appraiser prior to the negotiation stage.”
A total amount of $440,789 in VLT money was received by the city, and the $5,400 would come out of that, Tabelski said, and be put into a Community Development fund. Performing these appraisals and proceeding with potential sales and/or leases of vacant properties is part of a mall redevelopment strategy to “bring vibrancy to the mall,” she said.
Parcels 2, 35 and 39 have recently been rented by Batavia Players during the group’s theater construction.
Council also approved Police Chief Shawn Heubusch’s request to spend $125,000 of reserve money to purchase police vehicles by the end of the year. He typically would put in for the purchase during budget talks in March, however, a dealer advised the department that supply chain issues are likely to bog down the process.
“We’ve been informed that if we don’t order them by the end of the year, we won’t get them next year,” he said.
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File Photo of City Manager Rachael Tabelski, by Howard Owens.