It’s a project that’s been in the works for a few years now: renovating the old Thomas C. Miller Public School building in Fairmont to create affordable housing for senior citizens.
“I feel with the number and percentage of senior citizens we have in this area, West Virginia in general and in Marion County, there definitely is a need. It would make a very positive use of what is right now an empty facility,” said Gary Price, superintendent of schools in Marion County.
Built in 1914, the school has been unoccupied for years and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. The Fairmont-Morgantown Housing Authority, along with the Augusta Development Corporation and other developers, have been working for years to secure funding for the project.
“We’re certainly hoping that these people can come in and make a positive use of that facility,” said Price.
To show its support, the Marion County Board of Education, which owns the property, granted the groups a six-month extension to continue their efforts. That decision was made at Monday’s board meeting. Developers say they’re applying for historic and low-income housing tax credits from the West Virginia Housing Development Fund.
“They have applied a couple rounds previously, and even though the application scored well, it didn’t score well enough to secure funding. There really hasn’t been anyone else with sufficient financial backing to guarantee us that they’d do something positive with the property,” said Price.
Developers, who plan to create 48 apartments in the building, say they’ve had success with similar projects in the southern part of the state. The BOE says it will do everything in its power to facilitate the process.
“It would be one of those $1 sales. We would be more than glad to see the community be able to reap the benefit of a positive impact like that,” said Price.
Developers plan to submit that application in June.