Plans to refresh Sacramento’s riverfront have been in development for more than 30 years.
Now, it looks like it might finally be the time for the riverfront and Old Sacramento to get the facelift advocates say the area deserves.
“The timing has always been right for the riverfront to be redeveloped, but with what’s happened in downtown lately, the question is what else?” Richard Rich asked. Rich, the city of Sacramento’s riverfront project manager, has been working to develop a plan for the riverfront for the past year. He will present ideas – and discuss costs – in a city council meeting as early as April.
Rich and Downtown Sacramento Partnership Old Sacramento district director Brooksie Hughes say Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is highly supportive of efforts to revitalize the riverfront. The big question will be how to do it – and how to finance it.
Rich, a former Disney “Imagineer,” says the riverfront and Old Sacramento need to be cleaner, safer and more fun for locals.
“I would love to Disney-fy it, but Disney is typically $4,000 per square foot, so there’s no way we’re going to be able to do that. What we do have that Disney doesn’t have is an authentic history and authentic buildings,” Rich explained.
For starters, Rich imagines more beautiful lighting in Old Sacramento that will make the area more romantic and inviting.
“It’s to take what’s there and present it in a new way,” he said.
Rich would also like to see more locals and visitors interact with the Sacramento River itself – an idea Old Sacramento business owner and architect Greg Taylor agrees with wholeheartedly.
“A strong engagement with the water -- to connect there and have some sort of safe engagement [with the river],” Taylor said, running through ideas for the district.
Hughes, who is helping to rethink Old Sacramento’s events strategy, says Old Sacramento and the riverfront need rebranding.
“The current brand, I think, is in transition. One of the things that struck me when I came here is: Why is this place not cooler? Why do more people not hang out here? Because to me, it’s very historically hip,” Hughes said.
She said a new brand strategy will likely be finalized by this summer, though there are no details on what Old Sacramento – currently branded as “Yesterday Today” – might get as its new tagline.
While many Sacramentans are already applauding renewed efforts to fix up the riverfront (one local described it to ABC10 News as “dilapidated”), others fear Old Sacramento’s current charm will get lost.
“I’m not too crazy about the newer shops in there,” Lyndee Russell said. “I like it more … atmospheric.”