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Voting open for ‘Waterfront Idea Makers’ competition to revitalize Old Sac’s riverfront

How Interstate 5 altered the landscape of Sacramento

Take a look back at the development, construction and opening of Interstate 5, the freeway that transformed downtown Sacramento. Photos are from the Center for Sacramento History - taken by Bee photographers - and the Caltrans archives.
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Take a look back at the development, construction and opening of Interstate 5, the freeway that transformed downtown Sacramento. Photos are from the Center for Sacramento History - taken by Bee photographers - and the Caltrans archives.

The Old Sacramento waterfront could use an upgrade. A Ferris Wheel, perhaps? Open markets, a park, a Tower Bridge light show? An aquarium? All of these ideas and more have been submitted, and now it’s the public’s turn to vote for their favorite.

In January, the city of Sacramento invited five professional design teams to come up with new concepts for the stretch of riverfront in Old Sacramento. The public were also invited to submit their designs for “Waterfront Idea Makers,” and a childrens’ competition was included.

All the designs are in, and the city has officially opened voting to the public. The design that garners the most votes could win up to $6,000, according to Carlos Eliason, a creative specialist with the city.

“People have been really creative in the way that they’re completely rethinking how Old Sacramento works,” Eliason said. “Designs seemed to play up an idea of ‘Let’s just totally change this and see what happens,’ but in a way that’s respectful to the area and history.”

Eliason said the proposals that came in considered everything from art installations to new transportation (gondolas over the river, anyone?) to traffic flow, public spaces and more.

“From my perspective, we’re seeing so much new energy, and an almost childlike attention to curiosity,” Eliason said. “That’s why we did the hybrid process. We never would have gotten these ideas from a traditional process.”

The “hybrid process” refers to the public and professionals being invited to submit proposals, any of which could win the most votes. If the winning proposal is deemed “feasible,” Eliason said, the city may work with the designer to see if they can bring the idea to fruition.

“We have a lot of new ideas, and energy and momentum are starting to build up,” Eliason said. “We want people to think of Old Sac as a place where emotion and imagination can combine … and this is kind of where it starts.”

The kids’ competition was judged by City Council members, and the winners of each age group will be announced at a pop-up gallery in Old Sacramento, according to the city website. The winner of that competition will receive $100.

Members of the public are eligible for a $1,000 open competition award if their design wins. Members of the public and professional design teams are eligible for a $5,000 people’s choice award, Eliason said.

The public is eligible for the $1,000 open competition prize. The public is also eligible for the $5,000 People’s Choice award in addition to the open competition prize, for a total of $6,000, if their design receives the most votes. The five professional design teams are only eligible for the $5,000 people’s choice award.

The city recruited professional design teams late last year and received 12 proposals. Of the 12, the chosen five received $10,000 each to develop their designs, according to the city website.

Voting is open for the public until March 20. To see the designs and vote, visit https://woobox.com/jrtiue.

This article was updated at 4:30 p.m. on March 14 to correct information about prize money.

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