Sacramento Invests in Waterfront Makeover

The Tower Bridge in Sacramento. Learn more about the recent investment in the Waterfront's makeover.

Sacramento Invests in Waterfront Makeover

May 7, 2019 | By The Railyards

Sacramento has long touted the tremendous potential of its waterfront area along the Sacramento River.

The dream of a revitalized riverfront has come even closer to completion as the City Council approves a $47 million plan for the Old Sacramento Waterfront.

City Council Approves Waterfront Plan

Members of the Sacramento City Council unanimously voted to revamp the Old Sacramento Waterfront with an estimated $42 million in hotel taxes.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg unveiled the Waterfront plan at the end of April, 2019, showcasing renderings of a revitalized Sacramento riverfront.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg Announces Big Plans for Sacramento Waterfront.

“Great cities use their rivers, they take advantage of their natural assets to grow tourism and jobs, nature spots and nightspots, and create buzz inside and outside their cities,” said Mayor Steinberg.

“We’re taking a grand vision and putting real resources to it. And when we put $40 million on the table, it’s going to attract a lot of private investment. That’s a key piece to making this work. This is not a five-year master plan. We’re ready to get going now.”

The waterfront makeover is being funded from hotel taxes freed up from the remodeling of the Convention Center and Community Center Theater project. The hotel tax funds can’t be used for general city needs or to address issues like homelessness. The law requires that the taxes be used for public assembly amenities that will create more hotel taxes in the future.

“To be a healthy city we also have to create economic generators like a revitalized waterfront, which will produce more business and ultimately more tax dollars for us to pay for city services and address problems like homelessness and affordable housing,” Mayor Steinberg said.

What Will the Waterfront Plan Look Like?

The City of Sacramento had asked design firms and residents to submit ideas that would rethink what’s possible in the beloved historic district in the Waterfront Idea Makers contest. Submissions were posted online, and the public was asked to vote for their favorite concept.

The plan recommended by Waterfront Manager Richard Rich to City Council is a combination of the best ideas submitted from the hundreds of entries.

New attractions include:

  • a waterfront park with a lawn for festivals and concerts
  • an interactive fountain and “Calliope” playground experience for children and adults
  • a roof deck for the Sacramento History Museum
  • a two-story “Front Street Landing” with a colonnade that would be open to the river on the bottom and feature food and drink venues on the second floor.
  • a floating terrace in the river

The city says the occupancy rate for commercial space in Old Sac is half what it is in nearby Midtown. A recent study by real estate firm Keyser Marston Associates suggests a redesigned waterfront would increase sales tax revenues by 500 percent, from $700,000 annually to $4.2 million.

“Successful historic districts are successful because they attract people by the millions,” said Rich.

Rich told the Sacramento Business Journal the next phase will be to study the feasibility of individual projects within the plan, and determine details like cost estimates, schedules and work plans. The feasibility phase is expected to take a couple of months. The first new structures could begin taking shape in the next two years.

Black Line

Powerhouse Science Center Ignites Sacramento Riverfront Revival

Powerhouse Science Center Ignites Sacramento Riverfront Revival

Under construction, the Powerhouse Science Center will be the first project to be completed north of Old Sacramento and is sparking the riverfront revival.


Black Line

Other Waterfront Projects to Watch

The Waterfront makeover isn’t the only project looking to revitalize the Sacramento riverfront. Other waterfront projects are underway.

Powerhouse Science Center

The historic Pacific Gas & Electric power plant has overlooked the Sacramento river since its construction in 1912. This historic building is being renovated and transformed as the new home of the Powerhouse Science Center (formerly known as the Discovery Science Museum).

The museum will have exhibit space and a planetarium and will focus on science, technology, engineering, and math education.

The Powerhouse Science Center is on track for its 2020 opening.

I Street Bridge

Sacramento is getting a new I Street Bridge, replacing the 100 year old existing I Street Bridge built in 1911.

The I Street Bridge Replacement project will include construction of a new bridge upstream of the existing I Street Bridge. The new bridge will cross the Sacramento River between the Sacramento Railyards and the West Sacramento Washington planned developments and provide a new bicycle, pedestrian, and automobile crossing. The existing I Street Bridge would continue to be used by the railroad.

An online community workshop in April 2019 allowed Sacramento to vote on bridge concepts. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021 and be completed in 2023.

The Railyards

The Railyards project area is located on 244-acres between Downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento and American rivers. This previously undeveloped, historic land is being transformed into a vibrant, mixed-use community. Its development brings fresh opportunities to connect Downtown with the waterfront.

Within the development itself, a planned Riverfront District will revitalize the underutilized waterfront through the creation of public parks and open space that ensure visual and physical access to the waterfront.

Sacramento’s Waterfront Revival is Here

The “waterfront revival” has been discussed in Sacramento for decades. Now, multiple projects up and down (and on both sides) of the rivers are planned and under development.

“Great cities use their rivers, they take advantage of their natural assets to grow tourism and jobs, nature spots and nightspots, and create buzz inside and outside their cities.” - Mayor Darrell Steinberg

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