By Jeff Schrock, Randolph, Tucker & Upshur County Reporter/Anchor

ELKINS – Affordable housing for seniors is now available in Randolph County. A historic school building has been transformed into new apartments.

The goals of creating affordable housing and saving an historic community asset brought partners together on Tuesday to collaborate on a $3.7 million project now known as First Ward School Apartments.

“Some of the units are just gorgeous, and people will never have lived in a place like this before with this kind of character. So it’s great to save a part of our history,” said Johan Graham, project manager.

First Ward School Apartments consists of 16 affordable housing units for seniors. Seniors 55 and over can choose between one and two bedroom apartments with the basic amenities. Apartments are also available for people with disabilities. Project officials said the former school and its level of preservation remain as the community’s sole touchstone to time.

“Our first five tenants all went to school here. They have an awesome connection to this school. They use to live in the classrooms they chose to work in. There’s a piece of their history that belongs in this building, and that’s when the town fought so hard to save it,” Graham said.

West Virginia has a growing senior population. Officials said the number of people 55 and older will grow by 60 percent in the next 15 years. Project partners said there’s an increasing need to make sure housing is available for different people and their needs.

“What this does do, is to open up another opportunity another alternative what’s already in the market, not competing with anybody else, but adding to the supply of housing already available,” said Randall Underwood of Huntington National Bank.

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito said rural and senior are important for West Virginians.

“To use an old facility and reuse it for the future. To keep people in their home community. To use the tax credits that are available, the federal tax credit and to see everybody push very hard to work together, I think is a great day,” Capito said.

So far, seven of the 16 units are currently occupied or leased.

First Ward School is locally significant and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To learn about affordable housing visit here.

This article was originally published on WBOY on September 24, 2013. View original article.