FAIRMONT — The Miller School Apartments hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday welcoming many special guests and the community.
In September 2015, the Fairmont-Morgantown Housing Authority (FMHA), in a joint effort with Augusta Development Corporation and in partnership with the Miller School Associates, announced plans to remodel the old Miller Junior High School to serve as affordable housing for the senior citizens of Marion County.
The school was transformed into a total of 46 apartments with 26 one-bedroom units and 20 two-bedroom units. The building welcomed its first tennant in January, and now is the home to multiple Marion County senior citizens, some of which are Miller Junior High School alumni.
“This is a very exciting day for us as we celebrate years of planning, design, development and lots and lots of hard work as we worked to turn this 72,000 square-foot adaptive re-use project in converting one of Fairmont’s most beloved historic schools into Fairmont’s newest senior living facility,” FMHA executive director Christal Crouso said. “This building is loved by many from our alumni to faculty and staff, but, most of all, the people who live here.”
Crouso said some residents have described the building as “a palace,” “safe place,” and “a place that feels like home.”
Steve Sadd, with Sadd Brothers who co-developed the building, gave a product description and shared the process of restoring the Miller School to make it “home” for its residents.
Sadd said that the journey started about four years ago when his brother was driving through the city with city manager Robin Gomez. Sadd’s brother saw the Miller School and simply asked “What’s that?”
Fast forward those four years and now the Miller School is preserved and serves as a quality living space for the elderly in Marion County.
Sadd thanked the numerous investors, partners and staff who made the project a reality.
Next, Marion County Schools superintendent Gary Price spoke as a guest speaker on the Miller School’s history, stating that 10 years ago Miller Junior High School and Dunbar Middle School consolidated into West Fairmont Middle School. While Dunbar Middle had a fate decided to serve as a community building for meetings and reunions, Price said that Miller School was not as lucky. After the board of education placed the Miller School up for bid multiple times with not a single buyer, Price said the board was faced with the possibility of demolishing it.
“Out of the blue, the Sadd Brothers walked into my office with visions of revitalizing a quickly deteriorating Miller Junior High School,” Price said. “They shared photos and schematics of previous projects where they had rehabilitated abandoned and closed schools into pieces of real estate serving a public purpose. It did seem too good to be true.”
Now, Price said he and those present served as witnesses to what can happen when people have faith in a project and a vision in how to get that project completed.
“Miller Junior High was not demolished and Miller Junior High did not become an eyesore,” Price said. “Miller Junior High now stands ready to serve the community of Fairmont again with a fresh face and a new purpose.”
Fairmont City Manager Robin Gomez spoke of the impact the new apartments and Miller School restoration will have on the city.
“We are looking to continue to grow the economy of this city and see the city prosper,” Gomez said. “This is just the beginning.”
Finally, Fairmont Mayor Thomas Mainella read a proclamation on behalf of the Fairmont City Council that declared April 27, 2018 Miller School Appreciation Day.
After the ribbon cutting, tours were conducted on behalf of the FMHA for guests to see the restoration and new apartments available.
To qualify for an apartment, you must be 55 years old or older and meet specific income guidelines. FMHA is currently accepting applications which can be picked up at the office located at 103 12th St., Fairmont. Any additional questions can be directed to Lisa Darden at 304-363-0806, ext. 109.
Email Kaitlyn Neff at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @kneffTWV.