For years, the vision of a new science museum on the banks of the Sacramento River has seemed like little more than a far-off dream. But that vision became a whole lot clearer this week.
New drawings of the Powerhouse Science Center show a modern museum and planetarium connected to a revamped historic power plant that has stood vacant for decades.
The drawings were part of a presentation to the SMUD board of directors on Thursday night. At the end of that hearing, the board voted to approve a $7 million naming rights deal with Powerhouse that will give museum backers vital financial backing to close on $18 million worth of tax-exempt bonds for the project. Powerhouse already closed on $22 million in bonds late last year.
With that money now in the pipeline, Powerhouse officials are expecting an early summer groundbreaking. The $49 million museum is scheduled to open in summer 2020.
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“SMUD’s sponsorship of naming rights is just the jolt we needed to jump start the construction of the Powerhouse Science Center with a certain groundbreaking on the riverfront early this summer,” Councilman Steve Hansen said.
The Powerhouse museum will have a 120-seat planetarium and 20,000 square feet of exhibit space dedicated to nature, water and space exploration. There will also be room for three to four traveling exhibits each year.