By Greg Mason
From The Auburn Citizen, September, 24, 2014
Local residents and officials alike gathered in Auburn Tuesday to celebrate the completion of a large-scale redevelopment project.
The S.E. Payne Cornerstone project saw the construction and rehabilitation of 16 apartment buildings in the Orchard Street neighborhood for a total of 35 housing units.
Embarking on the multimillion-dollar redevelopment necessitated investments from several agencies including Syracuse firm Housing Visions, the Allyn Foundation and the the city of Auburn. The sites will provide low-income rental housing for people in need.
A ribbon-cutting on Tuesday signified the opening of the cornerstone apartments in the city. The ceremony comes two years after developers formally broke ground at the site.
A number of speakers commented on the project’s merits, including Auburn City Councilor Debby McCormick. McCormick noted the transformation of the neighborhood, saying the area has come a long way since the idea was first conceptualized.
Before and after pictures of previously dilapidated buildings, shown before those gathered at 9-11 James St., supported her statement.
“It’s like a turning point for this neighborhood,” she said.
In addition to the low-income housing, the S.E. Payne Cornerstone has an on-site management office, community space and computer lab. There is also a newly constructed playground on Benton Street, which was constructed by the Orchard Street Area Association.
The local neighborhood group has Orchard Street resident Arlene Ryan at the helm, who is credited as the project’s catalyst. Given the area’s relativity to many of Auburn’s hot spots, Ryan said Tuesday that she hoped to renew what was “once a great neighborhood.”
Now, the neighborhood is on an “upswing,” and Ryan is hopeful for more investments in the future.
“And why not? This is the only place in the world that can say we are the backyard of the invention of sound for motion pictures. So let’s roll ’em,” she said.
Ryan was among the featured speakers at Tuesday’s ceremony, which included the attendance of local, state and federal government representatives.
Auburn Citizen Staff writer Greg Mason can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMason.