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Batavia nails down boardwalk shop plans

Commission approves design for buildings

This artist's rendering shows the design for the buildings making up the boardwalk shops project in downtown Batavia.
This artist's rendering shows the design for the buildings making up the boardwalk shops project in downtown Batavia.

BATAVIA – Plans for the seasonal boardwalk shop project in downtown Batavia are getting nailed down.

The Batavia Historic Preservation Commission on Monday approved the simple design for the eight tiny buildings where pop-up merchants will be selling their goods starting this spring.

Batavia MainStreet board member Bob Hansen told the commission that work will start soon to build the modular components making up the shed-like structures.

The 12-by-12-foot buildings then will be assembled on-site in early April, on a portion of the parking lot at the southeast corner of East Wilson and South River streets.

The sheds, or “chalets,” will be arranged facing each other in two rows of four, running north to south, with an eight-foot-wide boardwalk running for about 65 feet between them, Hansen said.

The goal is to have the buildings ready for business by Memorial Day, Hansen said.

Start-up retail businesses will rent the spaces from MainStreet and would be expected to operate through late October, although there is a possibility that the shops might reopen in December for holiday shopping, Hansen said.

The chalets are to have simple gable roofs with a four-foot overhang in front, where merchants can hang small business signs, Hansen said.

While the buildings are movable and considered temporary, they would remain in place through the winter and under MainStreet’s contract with the city, are expected to stay at the location for at least two years, Batavia Building Commissioner Jeff Albertson said.

The city of Batavia is commissioning MainStreet, the downtown business organization, to plan and operate the boardwalk shops.

To pay for the project, the city is using up to $110,000 in state economic development grant funds.

The sheds are expected to cost about $8,000 to construct, but grading the sloping parking lot site will represent an additional expense, Hansen said.

Two of the buildings are to be constructed by students in the Batavia High School building trades program.

“What everybody is excited about is that this has really developed into a community project,” 2nd Ward Alderman Marty Callahan told the commission.

Businesses renting the spaces will pay about $2,000 per season in rent, to off-set MainStreet’s operating costs, Hansen said.

The city-owned parking lot is located within the Batavia Historic District, hence requiring review by the preservation panel, Batavia Building Commissioner Jeff Albertson said.

Nevertheless, commission member Phil Bus thought the review a bit outside the role of a preservation panel normally charged with inspecting plans for additions or changes to historic buildings in the downtown.

Albertson said that even construction of a new, permanent building in the historic district requires review by the preservation commission.

Commission Chairman Kyle Hohmann noted that the site had once been occupied by the Kinne & Jeffery Department Store, later known as Schielke’s Food Store and Hobby Shop, until the century-old building was demolished in 1977.

Hohmann said it is appropriate that the site will once again be the location for retail sales.

“This is a tremendous move in the right direction,” Hohmann said.

Today, the site is commonly called the “Art Stop” parking lot, known for its display of sculpture.

An access driveway from South River Street divides the parking lot in two. The boardwalk shops will occupy the section of the lot north of the access drive, leaving the southern portion available for shoppers.

The buildings will be equipped with electrical service, but no plumbing.

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