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AUBURN — The first phase of a yearslong, multimillion-dollar renovation project at an affordable housing complex in Auburn has been completed.

The updates at the Melone Village complex cost around $12 million. Improvements include nine handicap accessible units, four units for those with a vision or mobility impairment, two playgrounds, a community room for tenants to meet, computers and a laundry facility.

Stephanie Hutchinson, executive director for Auburn Housing Authority, said that construction for phase one began in April 2017. Renovations also included modernized electrical wiring and plumbing, asbestos abatement, new doors, walls, floors, and windows, roof replacement and insulation, and updated bathrooms and kitchens with high-efficiency appliances and lighting.

Around 40 people gathered for a ribbon-cutting marking the completions Tuesday. Personnel with the Auburn Housing Authority, New York State Homes and Community Renewal and 3d Development Group, LLC were among those to attend.

Lenny Skrill, assistant commissioner for state Homes and Community Renewal, praised those involved with the process, including Hutchinson. 

"We know that safe and affordable housing in great communities has the power to transform lives," he said. 

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Hutchinson also thanked various collaborators and acknowledged the patience of residents during the construction process. She said many had to temporarily relocate, some twice, and tenants endured issues such as noise, dust and "the occasional water or power outage." 

"We're thankful to the state of New York and the city of Auburn for recognizing the value of Melone Village," Hutchinson said.

Work on the second phase, which involves another 62 units, began earlier this year. Hutchinson said that construction costs for the second phase will also be around $12 million and there are plans to apply for funding in fall 2020 to complete phase three.

Betty Culbert, who said she has lived at the complex since 1989, noted that the new apartments are "roomier" and that she likes the handicap access her unit now has. 

"They're much better than the old ones," she said.

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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