Many year-round and seasonal residents make Cathedral City their home while others come to find what they need because this centrally located city has it all. From the necessities for daily living to unique entertainment, dining, recreation, and shopping opportunities, Cathedral City’s user-friendly “Business Clusters” make for a vibrant community. The city is improving its streetscape appearance and development process to keep it competitive in attracting residents and visitors.
“Whether you’re shopping at the Perez Road Business District for home improvements or on Ramon Road for your automobile needs, you’ll notice the enhancements Cathedral City is doing to improve our roadways and streetscapes to make our city a more user-friendly destination,” explains longtime Mayor Kathy DeRosa. “We are streamlining our development code, making it easier for developers and builders to navigate the development process, and we have a dedicated community service specialist who walks applicants through the entire process. They have that one person with them from start to finish,” DeRosa adds.
From the Cathedral City Auto Center on East Palm Canyon Drive to the city’s rapidly growing consignment shop corridor, to Restaurant Row on Date Palm Drive, this city provides a one-stop destination for both residents and visitors. “Shop the Perez Road Business District for decorative home accessories, custom furniture, flooring, and a variety of other goods and services. When your car needs servicing, head to Ramon Road for automotive repair and supply stores. And when you are ready to relax, check out one of our many entertainment venues,” says Leisa Lukes, Business Development Manager.
These clusters draw customers because of their high visibility and easily accessible locations. Businesses choose to locate near similar businesses because they know the arrangement draws shoppers and, in turn, benefits the consumer and the city. “We embrace business clusters because they add to the ease of Cathedral City living and to the City’s economic stability and vitality,” adds Lukes. “We are promoting these clusters — they generate revenue and draw new businesses, as well as existing businesses looking to add another valley location.”
Lynn Mallotto, CEO of the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce, is a major booster of business clusters. “During the economic downturn, business owners nationwide searched many ways to attract consumers,” Mallotto says. “The city’s business community took its lead from the Auto Center, working in a collaborative, cooperative and creative approach to marketing and attracting customers.” Business clusters provide the opportunity to attract the public in unique ways, including group tours, co-op marketing and special events, ultimately increasing pedestrian traffic and needed sales tax revenues. “Good news for all,” adds Mallotto.
Developing business clusters has proven a successful strategy for the Perez Road Business District. Perez Road merchants and businesses formed the non-profit Business District, whose mission is to raise community awareness about the services and goods offered by its 200- plus businesses. Phyllis Mongiello, Vice President of Perez Business Partners Incorporated, the area’s 45-member merchant association, spearheaded the group. “Those who have worked with us have gotten recognition around the valley through joint advertising, sponsored events, golf tournaments, billboards, and the Perez Road Fall Festival,” Monigiello observes.
Business clustering has transformed Mission Plaza into a vibrant multi-cultural culinary adventure. Today six restaurants with unique and diverse offerings call this expansive Spanish-style center home. “It’s become international, which we love,” says one of the restaurateurs. “We have been able to do co-op advertising with all the businesses here. That drives traffic to the center and raises awareness for all of us.”
Cathedral City has fast become the valley’s destination of choice for consignment store shopping. The city has many consignment establishments selling everything from furniture to furs. These businesses, in particular, benefit from clustering and are very attractive to valley visitors. The growing number of consignment stores pleases Michael Balian, president of Carpet Empire Plus. His business recently relocated within Cathedral City, moving from an 8,000-square-foot facility to a renovated 14,000-square-foot showroom. “I think what attracts a number of business owners to this area is the central location and the various clusters, including consignments, auto dealers, and home improvements,” Balian says. Flooring Innovations, another flooring specialty store, is also located on East Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City.
In 1989 the Cathedral City Auto Center opened with five dealerships, and today it has grown to include 13 dealerships and 19 new car franchises. A new Volkswagen dealership will soon be opening on East Palm Canyon Drive adjacent to the Palm Springs Volvo dealership. According to Andrew Jessup, Jr., general manager of Jessup Auto Plaza and president of the Cathedral City Auto Center Advertising Association, the Auto Center experienced three of its best months in 2013. “This auto center sells 54 percent of the Coachella Valley’s new and used vehicles,” Jessup says. “City hall’s vision and its continuing support has proven to be a wise decision, as the auto center annually plays a significant role in Cathedral City.”
Pat Milos, Community Development Director, points to the auto center as the City’s first and most successful clustering effort: “We see how attractive it is and see how we could take the concept to other areas of the city, with other businesses that have the same interests.”
Cathedral City enjoys a cluster of recreational venues, too, offering what residents and visitors value in the way of family entertainment. These include the recently opened Xceleration Indoor Kart Racing with Italian-made racing cars, Desert Ice Castle where Olympian ice skaters train, Big League Dreams Sports Park with its NCAA championship games, the Desert’s only IMAX Theater, the 14-screen Mary Pickford Theater, Boomers Family Entertainment Center, and multiple golf courses. Count the city’s well-attended parks, including its top-rated soccer park, and it is evident that this is a city where people enjoy living. “If you want to participate in a group or in individual sports, Cathedral City is the place to be,” says City Council member Greg Pettis. “Having everything close by and within easy reach is part of what makes our city so attractive.”
Entering Cathedral City from Interstate 10 will soon be easier as the new overpass on Date Palm Drive is completed. The overpass will widen the road to six lanes and streamline traffic signals for easy access to east and westbound Interstate 10. Long lines to get on the freeway will be a thing of the past. “It will be a dynamic gateway to the city with cathedral-inspired ironwork on the overpass and mosaics of a desert sunset below,” explains Bill Simons, City Engineer.
In addition, the city continues to improve its infrastructure in support of business attraction and retention, and as a benefi t to residents. A coming project will widen and resurface East Palm Canyon Drive, and improvements to Ramon Road, one of the valley’s busiest streets and the City’s central artery, have been made between Date Palm Drive and Da Vall Drive. The road now runs three lanes in each direction with new pavement and landscaped medians. When work on the western segment of Ramon Road between Date Palm Drive and Landau Boulevard is complete, drivers will enjoy left turn lanes, planted medians, and new pavement. These streetscape improvements are designed with one goal in mind — to continue to improve Cathedral City as the City that has it all.
Promoting Cathedral City is easy . . . come visit us and you’ll see why.
By Ellen Paris
Stan Henry, Greg Pettis, Sam Toles