The City of Trenton has authorized a plan to redevelop an abandoned elementary school into housing for low and middle-income residents. Mayor Reed Gusciora and several members of the City Council announced the project late last week.

Built in 1910, Cook Elementary School educated generations of Trentonians at the corner of Cuyler and Walnut Avenues. Now, after 40 years of dilapidation, KCG Development will take the reins.

Councilman Joe Harrison speaks with silver shovel in hand.

East Ward Councilman Joe Harrison spoke with a silver shovel in hand to symbolize his “Silver Shovel Economic Plan.

“It’s very straightforward. Take empty property, clean it up, sell the property to investors and developers, and get them to pay property tax. This will create jobs and improve the neighborhood,” Harrison said. “I looked at this beautiful Cook School that was supposed to be demolished. I said ‘No, we must save this great historic building.'”

The City Council’s unanimous vote to authorize the project is a step forward in Trenton’s plans to instill new life into its oldest buildings. Council voted 5-2 in defiance of Mayor Gusciora earlier this month against manufacturer Princetel from redeveloping an abandoned Roebling building into a plant to create fiber optic cable.

“I’m just happy that we were able to work together with council to really enact some change in the community. We need to continue this momentum,” Gusciora said. “We can’t just demolish everything,” he said. “We’re blessed with our city’s history, and the Cook School is an undeniable symbol of that.”