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Syracuse apartment building where author F. Scott Fitzgerald lived reopens

F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of "The Great Gatsby," briefly lived at Kasson Place Apartments on James Street in Syracuse when he was a child. The 115-year-old apartment building reopened this week after a $9 million renovation. (Rick Moriarty | rmoriarty@syracuse.com) 
Syracuse, NY -- The historic Syracuse apartment building where author F. Scott Fitzgerald briefly lived as a child has reopened after an extensive renovation.
Kasson Place Apartments at 622 James St. reopened this week with 28 two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom units.
Built in 1898, the seven-story building is one of the oldest apartment buildings in Syracuse. Its most famous tenant was Fitzgerald, considered one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.
"The Great Gatsby" author was 5 years old when his family moved from Buffalo to Syracuse in January 1901. The family lived in Apartment 201 at Kasson and later moved to East Willow Street. The Fitzgeralds moved back to Buffalo in September 1903.
Conifer Realty LLC, of Rochester, bought Kasson Place from the city of Syracuse for $1 in 2011, the same year it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Conifer, which specializes in restoring distressed apartment buildings, began renovating the building last year. The city acquired the building from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which foreclosed on a previous owner and declared the building unfit for tenants.
Sandra Gorie, marketing director for Conifer, said the company preserved the historic character of the building during the year-long restoration.
The bathrooms, kitchens and appliances are all new. But most of the original doors (including door knobs), hardwood floors, woodwork and windows were saved. The building's arched entrance still sports its original ornamental ceiling, tiled floor and marble walls.
"It has so much character," said Gorie. "You get that old, cool charm."
One-bedroom units have 553 square feet of space and rent for $870 a month. The two-bedroom units have from 757 to 1,087 square feet of space and rent from $1,030 a month.
Though the 115-year-old building's historic status has its appeal, Gorie said its proximity to the city's medical centers, including nearby St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, and to Syracuse University make it an attractive location.
Leases have already been signed for 19 of the 30 apartments, and one tenant has already moved in, she said. Many of the new tenants are resident physicians and other employees of local hospitals, she said.
"This is close to everything," she said. "Syracuse isn't a big city, so you don't have to go far to get to anything."
Conifer also is renovating Leavenworth Apartments directly across the street at 615 James St. Built in 1912, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, too.
Gorie said the Leavenworth will open by mid-October with 53 apartments. Monthly rents will start at $660 for studio units, $870 for one-bedroom units and $1,015 for two-bedroom units.
Conifer is spending a total of $9 million renovating the two apartment buildings.