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Batavia aldermen approve Walgreens project

BATAVIA – The construction of a new Walgreens store in downtown Batavia was given the green light Monday as aldermen in a 8-4 vote approved a redevelopment agreement for the project.

Voting “no” at the City Council meeting were 1st Ward Alderman Michael O’Brien, 1st Ward Alderman Garran Sparks, 5th Ward Alderman Lucy Thelin Atac and 6th Ward Alderman Lisa Clark. Third Ward Kyle Hohmann was absent from the meeting, and 5th Ward Alderman Steve Vasilion, an architect, recused himself because Batavia Enterprises is one of his clients.

Aldermen also voted for variances and a conditional-use to allow for a drive-through pharmacy.  O'Brien voiced his opposition to the plan and the redevelopment agreement.

"I think we are mortgaging our future for our downtown," he said.

Seventh Ward Alderman Dave Brown disagreed.

"A project like this says an awful lot of what we are trying to do with the redevelopment of this town," he said.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke took note of the many discussions over the past three years about the project and the subsequent changes that have been made in the plan.

"It is a much better project because of the debate," Schielke said.

The project is in a tax increment financing district. Under the proposal, Batavia Enterprises would receive $450,000 from the city as the project moves forward, and another $693,000 that would be paid out over 12 years if the project generates enough TIF to cover it.

The new store could open in early 2015. In TIF districts, the total equalized assessed valuation (EAV) within a district at the time of creation is measured and frozen. Then revenues generated from the application of the local composite tax rate to the incremental growth in property tax revenues over the frozen baseline amount are used to pay for redevelopment costs.

Once a development project is completed and has been paid for, the TIF district is dissolved and the tax base is returned to full use by all eligible taxing bodies.

Total project costs for the new Walgreens store are estimated to reach about $6 million, which includes a 10 percent contingency of about $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 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.

The cost to move the line is $300,000.

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.

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