Look around. Palm Springs is booming. The last several years have brought new hotels, restaurants, clubs and housing to Palm Springs. Downtown is undergoing a revitalization, and the Uptown Design District is hopping with hip shops and cafes.
What was known as primarily a sleepy retirement community has suddenly morphed into a sexy destination for young people – all year round. Major events follow one after another, especially in season, from the Palm Springs Film Festival to Modernism Week and the Coachella Music Festival. All these visitors need places to stay, to eat, and shop. And those businesses need employees, who need places to live.
So, what’s new on the horizon? Some of the projects you see when driving around town include:
Two new, luxury hotels are under construction in central Palm Springs. The 150-room Andaz at North Palm Canyon and Alejo Road, occupying what had been a vacant, sandy lot for decades, sits squarely in a busy stretch between downtown and uptown. The 170-room Dream Hotel on Amado Road adds luxury and class to the hotel cluster supporting the Convention Center and the Spa Casino.
If you wander south on Belardo Road in the Tennis Club area, you’ll see the ruins of what was a Palm Springs classic, the Orchid Tree Inn. The inn and the church next door suffered a fire years ago, but have since been purchased, fenced off, and there are plans to rebuild. It’s one of the only old hotels in the neighborhood that hasn’t been renovated. This is one of two area projects in the works by the Weintraub Real Estate Group, the other being the Thunderbird Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage.
When the monstrosity that was the Downtown Mall was demolished, opportunities for a major facelift arose near Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way, the center of downtown. The Rowan Hotel and new construction for major retailers and restaurants enlivened what had been a seriously neglected district. Behind the Rowan, activity continues to finish a new downtown park and, ultimately, a Virgin Hotel, due in 2018. Wait, make that 2022, or maybe 2025. Anyway, the space is there for it.
A decade ago or so, the Spa Resort Casino was a tent, and there was a multi-story hotel on the corner of North Indian Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way. Now the Casino has its own building and parking garage, and what was the hotel is a big pile of dirt. All this property is owned by the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians – in fact, the square mile of land, known cryptically as Section 14, which is bordered by Indian Canyon in the west, Alejo in the north, Ramon in the south and Sunrise in the east is owned by the tribe. (Long story.) The corner under development is the location of the original hot springs where Palm Springs got its start. The tribe is constructing a large Cultural Center on this site.
College of the Desert
In the past, Palm Springs had a knack for building bland, soulless shopping centers in the weirdest places. The one downtown is gone, and the next to go is the Palm Springs Mall, the ghostly mess at Tahquitz Canyon Way and Farrell Drive. Virtually abandoned for decades, the site is finally fenced off and will become the Palm Springs campus of the College of the Desert, the main campus of which is in Palm Desert.
The COD campus will add to an emerging educational and cultural hub, which includes the Palm Springs Cultural Center (part of which is the Camelot Theater), and the Richards Center for the Arts on the Palm Springs High School campus.
New Places to Live
There is still lots of room in Palm Springs for building new homes. You may wonder why there are so many vacant lots near downtown. As much of this land is in of Section 14, any development is subject to all manner of constraints. Many of the new-ish looking condos in town are in this Section, such as the few units left at Sol (Avenida Caballeros and Amado Road), and or what will be become the Enclave at Baristo (on Baristo near Hermosa).
A huge new development is underway at Farrell Drive and Baristo Road across from the soon-to-be College of the Desert Palm Springs campus. Dubbed “Vibe” for some reason, this new community of single family and courtyard homes is on fee simple land, that is, not leased Indian land. The Website says it is just blocks from downtown. It’s not. But it is a great location, nevertheless, and downtown is a quick bike ride away.
A little further east off East Palm Canyon Drive, you’ll find District at the Edge (indicating it’s on the edge of Cathedral City, and therefore almost, but not quite, Palm Springs). These condos sold out quickly, but they’re building more. If you shop a lot at Trader Joe’s and Target, this is the place for you. They’re both right in front of you.
On the north end of Palm Springs, look out for new homes and condos at Icon and Miralon, the latter of which promotes its open space and olives. (You have to see the Website. It’s too complicated for this space. “A nod to mod.” Really?)
For the high end, single family homes, there are new models at Skye, off West Ramon next to the mountains, and for do-it-yourselfers, check out Desert Palisades, 110 homesites in Chino Canyon for you to build your Neutra-inspired mansion.