Batavia aldermen debate funding for new Walgreens

BATAVIA – Batavia aldermen at Tuesday’s Joint Committee of the Whole meeting began discussing how much financial assistance to give Batavia Enterprises for the construction of a new Walgreens store in downtown Batavia.

Batavia Enterprises is seeking $1.5 million in financial assistance and ownership of the adjacent city-owned land. City staff has recommended the company receive $850,000 in tax increment financing incentive and the transfer of city-owned property for a nominal fee of $1.

The city owned property currently accommodates 53 public parking spaces.

The proposed site plan requires the reconfiguration of parking and allows for the replacement of lost public parking, totaling about 53 to 56 spaces.

Some aldermen voiced concerns about the proposal, including First Ward Alderman Michael O’Brien.

“This is going to take everything out of our TIF,” O’Brien said. “There will be nothing else in the future for anybody else.”

Total project costs for the new Walgreens store are estimated to reach about $6 million, which includes a 10 percent contingency of $520,250. Because the property has poor soil, the new building would have to be built on concrete caissons or piers, which is estimated to cost $275,000.

In addition, a large storm drain line that runs through the city-owned portion of the property. The line acts as an overflow route from the southern tip of Depot Pond to a point in the Fox River just north of the city of Batavia’s Emergency Services and Disaster Agency garage.

Batavia Enterprises has said that if the line has to be moved, it would cost about $250,000.

Batavia Enterprises wants to move Walgreens from its current location at 138 W. Wilson St. in the Batavia Plaza into a 14,500-square-foot building with a drive-thru just east of East China Inn in the same shopping center.

Batavia Enterprises owns Batavia Plaza.

The plans for the store have elicited debate in part because the store would be set back about 70 feet from Wilson Street.

The city’s zoning code requires a front building setback to be 10 feet or less.

Batavia Enterprises Vice President Austin Dempsey has said that construction of the new store must begin by March to deliver the building to Walgreens corporate leaders by the end of September 2014.

The project has been in the planning stages since 2010.