Talk about magnetic pull. All those vehicles hurtling towards Indio along Interstate 10 have heard the buzz. They know Indio is the place where things are happening right now. They also know there’s lots more in store. City planners know it. Commercial and residential developers are sure of it. Residents and visitors savor every minute of Indio’s vibrant present, and look forward to tomorrow. For those with an ear to the ground and others about to find out — it’s hard to resist everything Indio has to offer.
On the north side of the freeway, developments like D.R. Horton’s Mountain Estates and Lennar Homes’ Aliante at Indio can hardly keep pace with demand, citing waiting lists for each phase of homes they roll out. Following closely on the heels of this new residential construction is an exciting list of retailers eager to embrace the community. A nationally prominent store will soon anchor development off I-10 on Avenue 42 at the Monroe Street exit, resulting in a wealth of new retail, dining and entertainment opportunities in an easy-to-access location. Planned expansion of the Varner Road Auto Mall is already under way. Indio is among the Riverside County cities with the highest rate of new development in recent years, and there’s every indication that trend will continue.
Meanwhile, Indio’s downtown core looks forward to the opening of College of the Desert’s multi-storied Eastern Valley Center. Almost 3,000 students are expected to take advantage of the educational and career advancement opportunities at the new campus, including a collaboration with the nearby Coachella Valley Arts Center. The anticipated increase in foot traffic has spurred plans for construction of a mixed-use development directly across from City Hall. “Indio has embarked on an aggressive and comprehensive community development strategy for commercial recruitment and expansion,” Mayor Elaine Holmes says.
Legal eagles will continue to be drawn to the area as Riverside County moves forward with its $300 million investment on a couple of key projects in the downtown area — the Indio Law Building and the Detention Center on Highway 111 and Oasis Street. Complementing those will be installation of a new parking structure behind the existing courthouse — a welcome addition for county employees, potential jurors, and many other visitors.
The California Desert Trial Academy College of Law is already providing classes and hopes to soon inhabit its new building on Fargo Street. It’s one more element enhancing Indio’s long-time role as the Coachella Valley’s preeminent legal center. “All these developments — the new Indio Law Building, the expanded Detention Center, the Trial Academy — bring good-paying jobs and increased foot traffic to the downtown area. It stimulates that whole economy,” City Manager Dan Martinez says.
With everything in place, downtown Indio will realize its vision of being an area where individuals can live, work, and play. It will fulfill the ideal where people can walk six blocks in any direction and get whatever they need. Professional and educational opportunities? Check. Shop or grab a bite to eat? Check. See a movie or a play at the Indio Performing Arts Center? Check. “The City is transforming into the place for entertainment, arts, and education,” Holmes says.
Of course Indio as a whole continues to be a huge draw for music fans. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival lure the world to Indio’s doorstep and, with the City’s new 17-year agreement with Goldenvoice, the festival promoter, these two events have tremendous growth potential. The contract allows Goldenvoice to add two more events in October, the themes of which have yet to be determined.
Just as valuable to the City are the renowned Indio International Tamale Festival and Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival. The Indio Rhythm, Wine, and Brews Festival gets more popular every year, drawing music lovers from all over Southern California to hear legendary musicians and enjoy an afternoon of wine and beer tasting. These and many other popular events continue to cement Indio’s reputation as the City of Festivals.
“We play host to visitors from around the world, and now is the time for Indio to capitalize on our unique culture and expand the festival experience,” Holmes says. “Indio is positioned to be the year round destination of world class events to experience music, arts, and culture.”
The hospitality industry is paying attention to the influx of travelers attending the festivals bring, and Indio’s newest hotel — the Holiday Inn Express — is being built on land adjacent to the Fantasy Springs Casino, and has plans to open its doors this holiday season. In 2012 and to date in 2013, more building permits have been issued in Indio than in any other Coachella Valley city. It’s a promising sign.
In coming months, Indio has plans to engage its population through surveys, social media, discussion forums, and other forms of community outreach to determine what residents would really like to see in their city. What will complement the many wonderful amenities already in existence and those soon to arrive? A city willing to do advance legwork is always attractive to potential developers. As Holmes says: “It is through the participation and engagement of our community that our vision for the future will continue to evolve.”
No one can resist Indio’s magnetic force. Include this vibrant community in your plans this year and find out what others already know. Indio has always had a lot to offer and the tradition continues.
— June Allan Corrigan
Ascencion “Sam” Torres, Lupe Ramos Watson, Glenn Miller