Palm Desert, California - City Guide
A Thriving Retail, Cultural, and Educational Center
By David Hermann
Palm Desert has relied on thoughtful planning, thriving commerce, and a strategic location in the heart of the Coachella Valley to build a strong civic foundation that generates a superior quality of life for residents and an unforgettable experience for visitors.
Business activity fuels public services in Palm Desert, and the community continues to experience dynamic commercial development, despite a challenging economic climate.
Over the past year, Palm Desert has witnessed the opening of a wide variety of nationally known stores, including trendsetting active apparel retailer lululemon, high-end audio-visual specialist Bang & Olufsen, Ulta cosmetics, Ann Taylor, the Savory Spice shop, New Balance, Vans, Francesca’s Boutique, designer James Perse, and Roberto Coin jewelry.
The positive trend in retail shows no signs of slowing, with recent announcements by Whole Foods and Nordstrom Rack that will open locations in Palm Desert in 2014.
The activity that continues to energize retail development has extended to Palm Desert’s food-service sector with the debut of a variety of new restaurants, including Red Lobster, Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café, Pierro’s Pizza Vino, and Richie’s Real American Diner. Palm Desert’s firmly established reputation as an exceptional dining destination will be reinforced in coming months with the scheduled openings of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s new Pizza Bar concept restaurant and a Mastro’s Steakhouse.
Development also continues on the hospitality front, with construction started on buildings at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge and Westin Desert Willow Villas.
Long recognized for its commitment to and celebration of the fine arts, Palm Desert further cemented its place as the Coachella Valley’s arts and cultural center with the 2012 debut of the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert.
The museum’s 8,400-square-foot interior, named The Galen, includes intimate gallery areas that host rotating exhibitions featuring artists such as Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin. An education wing offers art classes, curatorial lectures, and hands-on museum experiences for art lovers of all ages. A museum highlight is the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden — featuring works by artists such as Mark di Suvero, Betty Gold, and Dave McGary — set in the lushly landscaped Eric Johnson Memorial Gardens located on the southwest corner of Highway 111 and El Paseo.
The art of fashion is showcased in what has become the city’s signature springtime event: Fashion Week El Paseo. What began as three nights of fashion shows in 2006 has grown to nine days and nights of special events taking place in tents and at scores of stores throughout Palm Desert’s famed El Paseo shopping district. The annual celebration includes the popular Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert. More than 13,800 attendees took part in the 2012 event. Of these, 30 percent came from outside the Coachella Valley. Local charities also benefited, receiving more than $103,000 as a result of the festivities.
In the public sector, the city celebrated the first anniversary of its $8 million Palm Desert Aquatic Center. Located in Civic Center Park, the eight-acre center includes a lighted Olympic sized competition pool with 1- and 3-meter diving boards. The competition pool is complemented by a 1,600-square-foot recreation pool featuring two 20-foot-tall waterslides and a wade-in entry, and a splash pool provides a refreshing playground for children. In keeping with Palm Desert’s commitment to the environment, the structure uses solar energy and meets LEED specifications to ensure that it is sustainable and energy efficient.
Environmentally friendly projects like the aquatic center are consistent with Palm Desert’s commitment to reduce energy use in the community. The city’s Set to Save rebate program and its ground-breaking Energy Independence loan program are among the reasons The Wall Street Journal named Palm Desert as one of nine top cities in the world on the leading edge of energy efficiency.
Palm Desert occupies the Coachella Valley’s geographic center, but the city has become the region’s education center as well, with four college campuses and a new $64 million, 238,000-square-foot high school.
College of the Desert continues to grow. Recently completed buildings at the valley’s only community college include the $17 million Donald and Peggy Cravens Student Services Center, a 48,132-square-foot building that anchors an expanded front entrance to the college. Additional classroom buildings are under construction, with even more facilities planned for construction through the year 2015. The extensive on-campus development means that the college will be able to train even more highly skilled workers in the fields of law enforcement, hospitality management, agribusiness, alternative fuels automotive, culinary arts, early childhood education, and emergency medical technician training, among others.
California State University, San Bernardino’s Palm Desert campus continues to produce top-flight bachelor of science graduates from its nursing program. Future nurses are trained in a state-of-the-art lab equipped with patient simulators that allow students to diagnose a variety of real-world medical conditions.
Loma Linda University also is establishing a presence in Palm Desert with the recent launch of a degree program for dental hygienists offered by the university’s School of Dentistry. Thanks to this program, local students who aspire to become dental hygienists will be able to study and train close to home. And area residents will enjoy better access to dental and oral healthcare through the program’s new public clinic.
With its ample educational and recreational opportunities, healthy balance sheet, and strategic location in the heart of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is poised to continue its tradition of prosperity and innovation. To learn more about business opportunities in Palm Desert, contact the city’s economic development division at 760-346-0611 or visit www.cityofpalmdesert.org.
Description: With strong retail sales, upscale shopping and dining, and a world-class tourism and resort industry, Palm Desert offers expanding business, development, entrepreneurial, and educational opportunities, plus outstanding cultural and public amenities. This 34-year-old city with nearly 50,000 permanent residents is the second largest city in the Coachella Valley and a premier destination for visitors, families, retired, and relocated urbanites.
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