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The Old Sacramento Waterfront is about to get new amenities

The City Council in May, 2019 approved $42 million in funding to improve the historic waterfront. The funding, collectively called the Destination Sacramento Program, will bolster the beloved district, adding new attractions that will increase resident and tourist visits.

A floating terrace, a rooftop event deck, and a chic multi-use market space are some of the suggested amenities, along with traditional improvements such as a water feature and festival lawn. Ideas for the amenities were conceived through multiple months of open process, including Waterfront Idea Makers, a public competition that garnered concepts from professional design firms and residents.

The Destination Sacramento Program will be funded in part through a “transient occupancy tax,” or TOT — a 12 percent tax added to hotel-room stays within the city. The tax was originally created to help fund the City’s C3 Project, but its purpose has been expanded to include the waterfront.

A Council vote was needed to authorize this revenue stream toward its new purpose of funding eligible waterfront projects.

In December 2016, the Mayor and City Manager requested a plan to identify targets of opportunity that would enhance the riverfront as a destination for residents, businesses and visitors.


In 2017, Mayor Darrell Steinberg, District 4 Vice Mayor Steve Hansen and City Manager Howard Chan requested a plan to identify targets of opportunity to enhance the waterfront as a destination that would attract greater visitation, improve the region’s quality of life and encourage mixed-use urban development.

City staff subsequently offered a strategy to leverage the City’s existing waterfront assets by redeveloping Old Sacramento into an entertainment district within a historic setting, creating a premiere waterfront destination.

That strategy focused on organizational changes to district operations and improvements to City and State-owned waterfront properties. The City recently completed an $8 million renovation of the waterfront Embarcadero boardwalk and a rebranding program and now seeks to leverage that work through this program to reimagine and reenergize the Old Sacramento Waterfront.
The Waterfront Ideas Makers program is an outgrowth of these activities.

Old Sacramento Waterfront, a 28-acre national registered landmark and state historic park, preserves an 1870 riverside scene, complete with sailing vessels, paddle wheelers, cobblestone streets, boardwalks and many other historic elements. Old Sacramento Waterfront is home to numerous special events throughout the year, including the world-renowned Sacramento Jazz Jubilee which attracts more than 300,000 visitors each Memorial Day Weekend.