The first phase of the conversion of the former Midtown Mall in Downtown Binghamton into high-end student housing is finally nearing completion, almost three years to the day after a massive fire decimated the decades-old adjoining buildings at Court and Chenango Streets.

The developer and City of Binghamton have unveiled new units in the Court Street wing of the former shopping mall that are awaiting appliances and furniture before tenants can begin moving in next month.

The other building on Chenango Street is expected to be ready for occupancy in July.

The spectacular Midtown Mall fire broke out in the evening of December 21, 2010, burned for days, closed Court and Chenango Streets for weeks, put some struggling shops on the block out of business since they were inaccessible to customers and caused extensive damage to the neighboring Press Building on Chenango Street, sending the tenant businesses in that facility out of the downtown district.  The Press Building remains unoccupied today.

In the weeks following the fire, officials say the blaze had been fueled by natural gas in the building but no definitive cause for the fire was determined.

Developer, Larry Gladstone estimates the conversion of the mall building into apartments and commercial space cost about $15 million.

The residential units will rent at between $820 and $1,200, depending on the floor plan.

The first 16 apartments are due to open in January.