Inside West Middle School Apartments: Former Auburn campus opens to tenants

Jenica Lawton and Karen Brown are like students in a new school.

Lawton is a risk manager and Brown is a regional manager for Two Plus Four Companies, which recently began renting housing units at its newest property: the former West Middle School.

As they showed The Citizen around the remodeled three-story building Friday, Lawton and Brown couldn’t help getting lost a couple times.

“Sometimes I’m trying to figure out where I am,” Lawton said. “I think I’ve been around it quite a bit.”

Built in 1939, the 118,112-square-foot school was closed in 2011 by the Auburn Enlarged City School District due to declining enrollment and a budget shortfall. Two Plus Four, of Syracuse, partnered with Unity House of Cayuga County to purchase the building from the district for $1,060,000 in January 2017. The $20 million remodeling project was supported by state, federal and private funding.

Friday, the size of West Middle School Apartments wasn’t its only striking feature. It was also so quiet that someone walking its hallways might not have guessed that there were couches and beds, not desks and blackboards, in its classrooms. Thirty-eight of the building’s 59 units are currently occupied, Brown said, but unless someone is passing through the hallways, it’s “super quiet.”

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