As one of the youngest cities in the Coachella Valley, desert dwellers have watched the city of La Quinta blossom into the beauty it is today. The ’80s and ’90s brought smart, well-planned economic development. The economy’s struggles of recent years slowed things for every community in America, but La Quinta, known as the “Gem of the Desert,” is proudly seeing a resurgence of growth once again — bringing new amenities for visitors and residents alike.
La Quinta has consistently welcomed popular national retailers over the years, and Hobby Lobby will be the latest to stake its claim in La Quinta. The store’s site, which is currently being prepped for construction just west of Kohl’s on Highway 111, will bring a 55,400-square-foot hobby superstore to La Quinta. Hobby Lobby is the company’s first expansion effort into the Coachella Valley.
Another exciting announcement this past year was Cinemark’s plans to break ground on a new 12-screen all-digital movie theater just south of Highway 111 behind Target and Lowe’s. The company reported that new XD technology will be used, and there will be a lobby bar with beer, wine, and frozen cocktails.
Perhaps one of the city’s most highly anticipated amenities on the horizon is the renovation and expansion of the La Quinta Senior Center, which will transform into the La Quinta Fitness & Wellness Center. This new health and wellness facility will provide people of all ages with opportunities for increased physical activity, with state-of-the-art workout areas, engaging fitness classes, and space for youth and teen programs such as karate and dance after school and on weekends. The expansion will also include a community gardening area, as well as an expanded patio connected to a walkway within Civic Center Campus Park. The center’s anticipated completion date is January 2015, and its grand opening will coincide with the wellness events planned surrounding the Humana Challenge Golf Tournament.
New La Quinta living options are coming to fruition with the continued development at Griffin Ranch and Andalusia as well as the addition of Canyon Ridge — a brand-new housing community being built on prime land located next to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. At that site, 74 single-story haciendas and bungalows will encircle a central recreational area.
SilverRock Resort, consisting of more than 500 acres of premier La Quinta real estate including the city’s Arnold Palmer–designed championship public 18-hole golf course, is preparing to embark shortly upon the next phase of development. Consistent with the previously approved Specific Plan, this effort will include construction of two hotels, conference space, resort residential units, a resort retail village, black box theater, golf course clubhouse, new trails, and other outdoor amenities.
Marvin Investments plans to build 84 condominiums and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space on land that is just adjacent to Old Town La Quinta. The project is known as The Villas at Old Town and will include several plazas and fountains along Main Street with new designated parking areas and increase the opportunities to create a walkable, diverse community through the village.
La Quinta’s infrastructure continues to be upgraded, which helps support all new development. The Adams Street Bridge, which opened last year, added four lanes of traffic and created a more secure passage over the Whitewater Canal. Highway 111 and Washington Street — the city’s most traveled intersection — was expanded to three lanes to help accommodate increased activity throughout the city.
Improving roadways and beautifying the city help provide an exquisite canvas to serve as the backdrop for some of La Quinta’s signature events. As the host city for the Humana Challenge in January, the city of La Quinta puts on several community events that tie in to the focus of this PGA Tour event: healthy living. Watch for details on a 5K Walk and Family Festival as well as special healthy activities at the La Quinta Certified Farmers Market.
The La Quinta Arts Festival, presented by the La Quinta Arts Foundation, is held each March at the stunning Civic Center Campus. For the second year in a row, the festival was ranked the No. 1 fine arts festival in the country by Art Fair SourceBook — and, new this year, the No. 1 fine craft festival in the nation. The 2015 festival is slated for March 5-8, hosting 230 contemporary artists plus amenities that include music, performance art, and trendy food concessions, as well as craft beers and fine wines.
The La Quinta Arts Foundation hosts other events throughout the year, including Art Under the Umbrellas, which lines the picturesque streets of Old Town La Quinta with more than 70 artists on select Saturdays throughout the season. New this year is Splendor in the Glass, exhibiting an autumn harvest of blown glass art collectibles Oct. 18-19.
Other popular events enjoyed in La Quinta are sponsored by the La Quinta Chamber of Commerce, including the Hot Rod & Custom Car Show, scheduled for Feb. 1, and the Taste of La Quinta, which will be held March 14.
As one might expect, the La Quinta Museum features some great tidbits of La Quinta history and culture, but it also brings in traveling exhibits so there is always something new to see — and admission is free! During the month of October, the museum will celebrate American Craft Week with special activities. Upcoming exhibits include Day of the Dead Cigar Shadow Boxes, Oct. 1-Nov. 8; Journey Stories (a traveling Smithsonian exhibit), Nov. 25-Jan, 3; and Two Deserts — One Sky, Feb. 3-May 30.
With so many events drawing throngs of visitors, La Quinta’s varied hospitality options offer a multitude of different experiences. The historic La Quinta Resort & Club provides luxury amenities such as shops, restaurants, and hundreds of casitas meandering through lush grounds nestled along the mountains. Embassy Suites La Quinta and Homewood Suites La Quinta are gorgeous properties backed by trusted national hotel brands. And The Chateau, a spectacular boutique hotel set against the extraordinary Lake La Quinta, has 24 rooms that are currently undergoing an extensive $2.5 million remodel, as well as a couple of high-end casitas, banquet and event space, and enhanced food and beverage alternatives.
Those looking for vacation rentals will soon have a centralized way to search options on the city’s PlayInLaQuinta.com website. The city is also doing a complete refresh of its municipal website, La-Quinta.org, where information regarding city affairs can be easily located.
Other conveniences being instated by the city include a new Customer Service Center, where any kind of business that a person needs to conduct with the city can be done at one counter within City Hall.
La Quinta is certainly capturing the attention of many, being named as one of the Top 45 Hikes in the West by Sunset.com this past year, and attracting thousands of new Facebook fans: It has the highest number of Facebook fans of all Coachella Valley cities. There is much to explore and adore in this charming desert paradise.
— Andrea Carter
Lee M. Osborne
Kristy Franklin, Terry B. Henderson, Linda Evans