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One Washington Place in Batavia construction bids come in high

Shodeen works to cut costs for downtown project

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Construction bids come in for the proposed One Washington Place development in downtown Batavia, shown here as initially envisioned from North River Street.[]

BATAVIA – It’s back to the drawing board for the One Washington Place project.

Construction bids for the downtown mixed-use development came in higher than expected, so Geneva-based Shodeen Construction's President Dave Patzelt is sharpening his pencil.

“We have a $6 [million] to $8 million gap that we’re trying to close,” Patzelt said.

Patzelt met with Batavia city staff, including City Administrator Laura Newman and Economic Development Consultant Chris Aiston, on Aug. 15 to discuss strategies for getting the project moving again.

The $40 million project includes 186 apartments, a 350-space parking garage and more than 14,000 square feet of commercial space in a single, multi-level structure covering most of a city block bounded by North Washington Avenue and East Wilson, North River and State streets.

Patzelt said Shodeen received two construction bids, and both were significantly higher than the cost that had been estimated two years ago.

Total expenses for the project include a variety of “soft costs” such as architectural design, Patzelt said, that do not figure into the construction bids.

“We need to see where we can reduce costs or increase revenue or a combination of the two,” Patzelt said.

For now, the emphasis is on reducing costs, not increasing revenues.

“We haven’t gone down that road yet,” Aiston said.

Patzelt said cost-savings can be achieved, for example, by having the parking garage made from pre-cast concrete, rather than the cast-in-place concrete in the specifications.

Both Patzelt and Aiston talked about “value engineering,” construction vernacular for economizing on materials and amenities.

This spring, the city demolished the vacant Baptist church and other buildings it had acquired in preparation for construction of the redevelopment project.

The city also purchased the Larson-Becker property on North River Street and transformed it into a 121-space parking lot to make up for the loss of the existing city parking deck at River and State streets during the construction period.

The parking deck remains intact, but will be demolished as soon as excavation for One Washington Place is ready to begin. The deck now very likely will remain in place over the winter.

Both Aiston and Patzelt said excavation probably will not get underway this fall, because the project first will need to be bid out again, construction drawings reviewed and building permits issued.

“It’s starting to look more doubtful, but we’re not ruling it out,” Aiston said.

Newman expressed optimism that the city and the developer can work out a solution, as did Patzelt, who noted that Shodeen has secured financial backing from a lender.

“It is an unfortunate delay to the project,” Patzelt said of the construction bids. “Shodeen Construction is committed to try to get [this] project to come to fruition. Challenges like this are not uncommon,” he said.

The city has made a considerable investment in land acquisition and demolition costs, and has committed $14 million in tax increment financing district funds for the project. When complete, the city would own the parking garage component of the development.