By Elizabeth Klinge

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A nearly century-old historic school in the heart of downtown Sacramento could soon be getting a new look.

The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Developers plan on spending millions to turn the site into modern housing while honoring the school’s past.

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A lot has changed in downtown Sacramento in the 99 years since Jefferson Primary School was built.

“It served as a school until 1950, then it became the district office, but it’s sat vacant for the last decade or so,” historian William Burg said.

Thousands of kids passed through the school doors over the last several decades, but today, the old building is showing signs of its age with peeling paint and boarded up windows.

“Buildings that sit vacant decay,” Burg said. “It’s unavoidable”

Burg helped get the school site registered as a historic landmark.

“We listed it in the national register both to ensure its status and also to make it easier for a potential developer to use historic rehabilitation tax credits,” he said.

The property is now owned by a private developer who is unveiling plans to give the school a multi-million dollar makeover.

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So what will the renovated school grounds look like?

Plans call for restoring and updating the two-story building, turning it into commercial and office space.

The one-acre property also includes two vacant lots where the developer wants to build new townhomes and add an eight-story modern apartment building with more than one hundred market-rate units.

“We are really happy that now that the developer is moving forward with a plan to rehab and reuse the existing building and also build desperately needed new housing on either side,” Burg said. “It’s a perfect combination.”

Shirley Moody lives in the neighborhood and supports the plans. She says the site currently has been a magnet for the homeless.

“They sleep on the side of the building, and right in front,” Moody said.

Now it’s a piece of Sacramento history poised for a comeback.

“If this building was allowed to fall further into decay, it’s gone, you can never get it back,” Burg said.

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This project is also one of the first in sacramento to take advantage of s-b 330, the state housing crisis law which helps speed up the approval process.

Elizabeth Klinge