Auburn's former West Middle School to be converted into apartments

Governor Cuomo announces $20.2M project creating 59 units

AUBURN (WSYR-TV) - The city of Auburn will soon have 59 new apartments by way of a $20.2 million project converting the vacant West Middle School.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement today and added that 20 of the apartments will be designated for single adults who receive services from the New York State Office of Mental Health.

"This project will provide safe and affordable homes for vulnerable, low-income Auburn residents, as well as an opportunity for individuals with special needs to live independently," Cuomo said. "No one should be left without a roof over their heads and this project will bring us one step closer to ensuring every New Yorker has the opportunity to have a safe, decent and affordable place to call home."

The former West Middle School building, which has been closed since 2012, will transform it into a three-story residential building.

The former school’s auditorium will remain intact and will be available to the public for events.

This isn’t the first time an Auburn school building has been re-purposed.

“The old Central High, which is behind the Holiday Inn or the Hilton Garden Inn, that (was) turned into a medical facility over the last 10 to 15 years so--that’s been a big improvement to our community,” said Auburn Mayor Mike Quill.

Now, Quill says the former West Middle School is part of that improvement.

Those involved with the project say this is a win-win for the city of Auburn

“Preservation of this school was a concern for the city of Auburn.  Many residents were sad to see the school close and were worried about an eye sore developing in front of their homes,” said Sue Kimmel, President of Two Plus Four management and construction. “The City of Auburn was able to place the building back on the tax rolls, the school district was able to sell a building no longer needed, and with the use of Historic Tax Credits the building was preserved.”

Fellow lifelong neighbors in Auburn have three words for the proposal:“Let’s do it.”

“You don’t throw away a building that’s got tremendous possibilities, so do it. Do it. In fact, as a senior citizen, maybe I’ll be living there,” said Joe Flanigan, a retired teacher of 32 years. “I never actually taught in that building, but when I was in high school, I did do some summer school things that I needed to do in that building so it did have that little piece of me.”

Lifelong resident Sandy Lent, also a retired school nurse, says the old school building was just renovated before if closed, which is why she is glad to see it used again.

“Beautiful. All new windows – everything,” Lent said. “I think it’s wonderful that this will now be back on the tax rolls and it gives housing for people who need it.”

Along with plans for a new city visitor’s center and the soon-to-be Harriet Tubman National Park, folks in Auburn say this is just the beginning.

“The resurgence of downtown is phenomenal. To go through downtown on a Saturday night or a Friday night – the cars are parked and people coming in and out of the public theater or a restaurant,” Lent shared. “It’s like it was in the 50’s.”


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