The Sacramento City Council will vote this week on next steps in the renovation of Old Sacramento, even as the city has put aside some parts of the planned redesign.
The city has determined that the creation of a public swimming area between a floating barge and the shore is not feasible. Instead, architects have been looking at adding an elevator from the upper dock down to the water level and the addition of art, seating and landscaping.
The city had planned to pay for such improvements to the riverfront docks with Transient Occupancy Tax revenue, which comes from hotel rooms and short-term rentals. But a feasibility study shows the docks projects don’t qualify.
"To be eligible for those types of funds, you have to create a building where the public will gather. So it's a public assembly space,” said city creative specialist Carlos Eliason.
The city is moving forward with an event deck on top of the Sacramento History Museum and a two-story assembly hall that would be surrounded by a plaza and recreation areas.
The Sacramento City Council is expected to vote Tuesday whether to move those two projects to the design phase. They have a budget of about $47 million combined.
Stantec, a design firm in Sacramento has been considering the best ways to create a new experience for visitors to Old Sacramento and the waterfront. In the future, the city and Stantec plan to agree on a primary feature that defines the new waterfront.
Option one is a "Boxcar Park" which involves a large event space out in front of the passenger depot for the excursion train, which provides 45-minute rides on a dedicated track along the Sacramento River. The park would use the Transcontinental Railroad history as a focal point.
Brian Crilly, the lead on the project.says there would also be something water related.
"An interactive fountain, a play structure next to that as you go towards the south, and then a landing building that is nestled up next to Rio City [Cafe]," Crilly said.
Crilly says architects hope to move the railroad tracks to run adjacent to Front Street. "There’s these long, slender uses of space that really aren't efficient."
Dalton LaVoie has been working on the elevated river esplanade option, which would allow visitors to walk through large grassy areas along the river, and actually be able to see it.
"If you're walking along Front Street, you might not realize there's a river over there," LaVoie said. "The bridges might give you a clue. And until you really get across the train tracks, you usually can't even see the water."
A two story building would be part of that project, but no specific purpose for it has been identified.
The third option is a trestle promenade. Crilly says a walkway on top of the big brown buildings that make up the embarcadero would end at the Sacramento History Museum.
"We feel it could be an Instagrammable moment where in any portion of this district there's always an experience at the ground level and up above while also providing plenty of shade,” Crilly said. “It's so hot in the summer months.”
All three concepts are preliminary and have a play area, an event platform and use of the Sacramento History Museum’s rooftop. All of the plans also include an option for an accordion deck that could be raised or lowered depending on river levels.
California State Parks owns some of the land nearby and says the concrete along the bank of the Sacramento River will stay. But the dirt lot in front of the history museum could be the site of a new hotel.
"One of the pleasant surprises of the city's investment is we've received a lot of interest of folks who are potentially interested in participating in something like that," said the parks’ Capital District Superintendent John Fraser.
He says the action taken by the city has helped get the state wheels moving on its part of the waterfront, which also include changes to the train turntable.
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