UFA gymnasium for sale; advocates see community center

The city of Utica has a unique property for sale. So unique, it might make it difficult to sell. Some of you might have had gym class there - in high school.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 5:57 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2021 6:05 PM

UTICA, NY - The city of Utica has a unique property for sale. So unique, it might make it difficult to sell.

Some of you might have had gym class there - in high school.

"The former gymnasium for the UFA sits on its own tax parcel and has for quite a long time and is actually connected by corridors to the rest of the building. Those corridors have been blocked off for some time," says Brian Thomas, Commissioner of Urban and Economic Development for the city of Utica.

The city foreclosed on the former Utica Free Academy gym for back taxes in 2018. They're selling it for $200,000, but a glimpse inside makes it clear that it will cost much more than that to remediate, repair and make the building safe.

"There would be a signficant investment that would need to be made in the building, and we're gonna look to see, the Urban Renewal Agency board, is gonna look at what kind of investment applicants are proposing to make in the building as well as their financial capacity to operate and maintain the building going forward," says Thomas.

Community and youth advocate Patrick Johnson isn't discouraged; instead he's hopeful. He would like to see the gym turned into a community center.

"Given the climate of where we are right now, with all the gun violence in Utica, all the marginalization, the pandemic, poverty unemployment, I would love to believe that we could find partnerships, sponsors, big donors and say if not now, then when?" asks Johnson.

"Every day that we go without a community center in the city of Utica, it's a loss and people are literally and figuratively dying from it."

So far, no applications have been submitted to the city's Urban Renewal Agency, but the gym has only been back on the market for about a week.

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