ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Nearly 20 years after it closed, a new period is starting at the former Arthur W. Booth school on Davis Street. Two Elmira natives are turning the property into an apartment complex, featuring a new fitness center, tap room with access to a rooftop deck, and a café.

The new co-owners are Andy Hughes and Drew Mitchell from City Center Apartments, LLC. Thursday, they gave a tour of their plans to 18 News reporter Nicolas Dubina. Hughes attended Booth Elementary about 30 years ago. He says he was surprised to hear the school bell still works.

“I do remember hearing that sound, the bells actually worked outside,” said Hughes. “I grew up about a block and a half from here. I used to be able to hear the bells at home, and I used to run down the street and still be in time to get to class.”

“We will be building 58 market rate apartments consisting of 1 bedroom apartments, 2 bedroom apartments, and a few studio apartments” Hughes told WETM. “All of these apartments will have access to outside space within the building by using rooftop decking and courtyard patios. Within the building we will converting half of the existing gymnasium and stage into a fitness center for residents of the building.  We have also been working with a local owner of a brewery to build a tap room within the remaining half of the gymnasium. This tap room would be open to both the residents of the building and also the public. We will also have a café located in the building serving a unique variety of beverages.”

Hughes says he expects 1 bedroom apartments to be listed for about $700 to $900 dollars a month. The property will also feature a unit for short term rentals.

“The 90,000 square foot building is a unique opportunity to draw people to this section of town that is being revitalized.  Drew and I believe, we along with Charlie Hunter, owner of Rye, can connect the great work happening in the downtown of Elmira with this section of town.  No other building of this size will have all the of these amenities under one roof” Hughes added.

Drew Mitchell says he expects construction to start over the summer, which will involve some internal demolition work. Mitchell says the goal is to finish the project two years later, in the summer of 2025.

The Elmira City School District completed the sale of the school last month for $299,000. The school closed in 2004, but the school district kept using the property for other purposes until it was sold.

Booth school was last used by the school district to house community agency offices that directly supported students and families of the Elmira City School District. It was a shared space. Specialty programming like early childhood intervention services, social and emotional support, behavioral therapy and more occupied Booth. Head Start also ran programming in the building with their own enrolled students. Our District Athletics office and Academic Innovation offices were also housed there for a short period of time. Through our Community Schools model, Booth school served as a hub for agencies to provide support to students beyond their academic goals. The District’s Community Schools model has evolved and grown to a place now where services are integrated into our school buildings, with direct access to families as a way to provide immediate supports needed.

Elmira City School District Spokesperson

As for the school zone speed signs that are still up around the property, it will require approval from the City Council to take them down. “School Zones are established by recommendation of the City’s Traffic Coordinating Board, and established by City Council resolution” said Andy Avery, Chemung County Commissioner of Public Works. “As such, removal of the signs requires Council approval.  We are currently working toward this end.”