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Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8:47 am

Restoration work was in progress, landlord says, when city condemned apartment building on Jackson

post by Howard Owens in batavia, 113 Jackson Street, Jackson Street, landlords

The four-unit apartment building at 113 Jackson Street has been condemned by city officials and its residents relocated, but the owner says things sound a lot worse than they really are.

The most notable problem is the south wall, according to Guy Pellegrino, which is clearly bowed out, but Pellegrino said it was that way when he purchased the building 15 years ago and was in that condition years before he bought it.

It's never been an issue with city officials until now, he said, and it may not even be necessary to repair. He will need to hire a structural engineer to make that determination and present findings to the city.

The 4,000-square-foot building is 180 years old. The property is assessed at $115,000.

City Manager Jason Molino said 113 Jackson was closed for electrical, mechanical and structural code violations.

Molino said the Red Cross assisted, at least for the first day, the two tenants living in the complex after the building was condemned.

City officials only acted on the property after there was a report of a possible fire in one of the apartments Tuesday, Molino said. Firefighters found suspected code violations and a code enforcement officer was called to the scene.

According to Molino, tenants at the apartment were living in "deplorable conditions." The building was condemned, he said, because it was unfit for human occupancy.

Pellegrino has a different version of what city inspectors found at the complex.

First, the second-story apartments have been vacant since the Fall and are currently undergoing a complete restoration. The apartments have been gutted. The floors have been removed, the walls are being repainted and all the junk left by previous tenants thrown out.

"My plan has been once Spring rolls around is to finish the apartments and turn them into better quality units," Pellegrino said.

Pellegrino believes that it was the former upstairs tenants who have been the source of suspected criminal activity in and around the apartment building. After there was an armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver reported at that location, Pellegrino evicted both tenants, having them physically removed from the property.

A lifelong Batavia resident with a large family locally and other business interests, Pellegrino said the reports of criminal activity at the address, especially the suspected armed robbery, were a real embarrassment.

"That's not who I am," Pellegrino said. "I don't want people to have that impression of me. Once I thought they had something to do with it, I got rid of the tenants."

What Pellegrino didn't know, he said, was that one of his downstairs tenants was a hoarder and was stealing electricity from a neighboring apartment.

"The only person living in deplorable conditions was the hoarder," Pellegrino said.

The woman who lived in the other apartment kept her place clean and there was no problem with that unit, Pellegrino said.

The man had lived in the apartment for 10 years, according to Pellegrino.

"His rent was $600 a month and he paid it like clockwork," Pellegrino said. "I had no reason to believe he was a problem and I had no cause to go into his apartment."

The resident, Pellegrino said, created the alleged electrical code violations by removing electrical panels so he could tap into the power lines of another apartment, and running extension cords into his apartment.

Each apartment has its own electric meter and tenants are responsible for their own utilities, so Pellegrino doesn't get the electric bills and had no idea the tenant no longer had his own electric service to his apartment, he said.

One thing people don't understand, Pellegrino said, is that when a landlord rents to Section 8, HUD or any other social services tenant, the apartments are inspected by the government before the tenants move in. There's never been a problem with his apartments, Pellegrino said.

Other than the issue with the south wall, everything the city says is a code violation will be easy to fix, Pellegrino said. If a structural engineer clears the long-standing bowed south wall, then it will no longer be an issue, Pellegrino said.

There's a dumpster behind the apartment that's half filled with junk and garbage bags. The dumpster was originally brought in to help with the gutting of the two upstairs apartments. It's also being filled with the decades-long accumulation of junk left in the basement by former tenants, and, Pellegrino said, the hoarder has already started cleaning out his apartment and throwing stuff in it.

After 15 years in the residential rental business, Pellegrino is ready to get out. All of his properties are going up for sale, he said.

He was leaning in that direction before 113 Jackson was condemned, he said, but he's been "just sick" about what happened with the property and he's had enough. He thinks a lot has changed about the kind of tenants a landlord has to deal with in Batavia over the past 15 years. It's just not a good business to be in, he said, especially for someone who values his reputation in the community.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Photo: Short, heavy snowfall hits Batavia

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Jackson Street, weather

Batavia got hit by a short but heavy snowstorm about midday that left about a quarter inch of snow on the ground.

View on Jackson Street.

Perhaps, this is the last winter storm.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

Walton plans new restaurant and bar for Jackson Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Street

Press release:

Batavia has one less vacant building and a new business coming soon! Local entrepreneur Tim Walton has plans to open a cold kitchen eatery and bar at 35 Jackson Street. Crazy Cal's, will add a fun atmosphere for everyone to hang out, eat or have a drink.

"We want to be able to give something that isn't really here in Batavia." Walton says. "If you're hungry, we are going have a fast service cold kitchen, which is Specialty sandwiches, soups, salads and a few other food items as well. If you're thirsty, we have a bar to get enjoy a beverage from the unique drink menu and if you just want to hang out, we will have music, TVs to watch the sports games, pool tables and other games to play as well."

Just where did the name come from? "Cal is short for California. I wanted to open a place that you would expect to see along a boardwalk at the beach. It's not beach-themed, but you go on vacation and see these fun places to hang out and have fun, and that's the atmosphere of what I wanted to bring here."

Walton is no stranger to the bar and restaurant business. The last two years he has been able to gain management experience at several bars and clubs in Buffalo including Bayou, LUX, and Privato Lounge.

"The experience allowed me to learn event management, promotions, liquor laws, staffing management and everything else that is needed to run and manage a bar," he said.

Most recently, Walton has also been able to gain restaurant and food management skills from The Lodge, a high end restaurant in Buffalo. He has also done local shows and events at City Slickers, T.F. Brown's and Center Street Smokehouse and the list of shows includes The Zac Brown Tribute Band, Buffalo Bills, MTV and more.

Crazy Cal's which is aiming to be open by the holidays, and will be open at least five days per week, has already attracted much interested from the public.

"It's getting a lot of excitement," Walton said. "I've already spoken to a few teams and church groups that are interested in doing fundraisers here once it opens, too, so it's definitely exciting. It's something that will be good for the city and can benefit everyone."

The business is expected to create a minimum of five to 10 new jobs as well.

For more information, and to track the progress of Crazy Cal's, you can follow them on Facebook, www.facebook.com/crazycals.

Monday, September 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm

'Karen's Yarn Paper Scissors' opens in downtown Batavia, grand opening Tuesday

Karen Crittenden, of Pavilion, has opened a new arts and crafts store in Downtown Batavia. It is called "Karen's Yarn Paper Scissors" and is located at 39 Jackson St., a few doors down from the recently opened "Sweet Pea's Cupcakery Café."

Store hours are 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

A grand opening with door prizes will be held on Tuesday.

Crittenden said this store features yarn and paper products that are not available at other stores, in addition to having an atmosphere of personal service.

"I will talk with you to find out what you like," she said. "And if I don't have it, I'll order it."

If customers are not sure of how to use certain items, she is happy to help them out. And it doesn't matter if someone bought the items at "Karen's Yarn Paper Scissors" or at another store. Crittenden is happy to help anyone who asks.

"It's all part of service with a smile," she said.

In fact, in response to customer comments, Crittenden is offering classes at the store next month, including beginner's crocheting and beginner's scrapbooking. She also plans to offer a craft group.

People can provide their email addresses to receive a message at the beginning of each month informing them of upcoming events and offerings at "Karen's Yarn Paper Scissors."

"I won't bombard people," Crittenden said. "The only other time I would email them is if something changes (in the monthly schedule, etc)."

For more information, call the store at 219-4480 or email karensyarnpaperscissors@gmail.com.

More pictures (click on headline):

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

While some like it hot, Salsa & Curry offers cuisine suitable to those who walk on the milder side

A year or so ago when the Rathod family opened Salsa & Curry on Jackson Street, Downtown Batavia, they offered only a few Indian dishes along with a full menu of Mexican food items.

With no Indian restaurants in Genesee County, the Rathods weren't sure how the unique cuisine would be received.

It turns out, it was received very well.

After closing for a few weeks while the family traveled to India for a wedding and then did some minor remodeling, Salsa & Curry reopened a week ago with a daily buffet of Indian food, more Indian food items on the printed menu and slightly fewer Mexican food items.

While Indian food has a reputation for being spicy -- and WNYers have a reputation for not liking spicy food -- not all Indian dishes are spicy, or need to be prepared with a hot flavor.

The buffet features only mild items.

What the Rathods have learned, however, is some kick has its place.

"We were actually surprised -- a majority of people like it spicy," said Sonny Rathod, who is managing the restaurant with his brothers Raveen, Nick, sister Anupa Hirani and her husband Peter.

Customers who don't want to partake of the milder buffet can order spicy alternatives prepared immediately in the kitchen and over the past week that's exactly what a lot of customers have requested, Sonny said.

Meanwhile, in a couple of weeks the restaurant will have a liquor license and will be able to serve domestic, Mexican and Indian beer as well as margaritas.

The restaurant is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday until 10 p.m. and Sunday, Noon to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm

City firefighters respond to reported oven fire on Jackson Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, fire, Jackson Street

Batavia Fire Department has responded to 104 Jackson St., lower, for a possible oven fire.

The apartment is full of smoke.

The resident states he just moved in and it's the first time he used the stove.

UPDATE 7:33 p.m.: Burnt food. City fire ventilating the apartment.

UPDATE 7:45 p.m.: The food is out of the stove, the stove is out of the house and City fire is back in service.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Photo: Jackson Street closed to vehicle traffic, businesses still open

post by Howard Owens in business, downtown, Jackson Street

The sign may say "Road Closed," but businesses on Jackson Street remain open.

Jackson Street closed at 7 a.m. today, but should reopen at 7 p.m., and then close again tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for road repairs.

On the same schedule are Grandview Terrace and River Street.

Monday, September 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Batavia PD investigating property damage hit-and-run accident on Jackson Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, crime, Jackson Street

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department is investigating an incident of leaving the scene of an accident. It occurred during the early morning hours of Monday, Sept 5.

The accident was at 59 Jackson St., at the entrance to a parking lot on Jackson Street just north of Ellicott Street. A lamppost and a stop sign were struck during the incident. The lamppost was destroyed and a stop sign was broken off at the base.

Debris left at the scene indicates the vehicle involved is a blue in color Pontiac.

Persons with information regarding this incident are asked to contact the Batavia Police Dispatch at 585-345-6350 or the Batavia Police Confidential Tip Line at 585-345-6370. Persons may also report information via the Suspicious Activity Reporting link on the Batavia Police Department’s website.

UPDATE 7:52 a.m., Wednesday: The female driver has reportedly turned herself in. The investigation is continuing.

Friday, August 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

Photo: Patching Jackson Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Jackson Street

City crews were busy on Jackson Street this morning doing some road repair work.

Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Photos: Valle's 60th anniversary

post by Howard Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Street, Valle Jewelers

Valle Jewelers is celebrating its 60th year in business today with sales, prize drawings and refreshments. There was a good number of people in the store this morning when we stopped by.

Previously: Three generations and 60 years later, Valle family business still sparkles

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