Palm Desert and its economy are on the move, with building activity accelerating at an exhilarating pace not seen in years.
New stores and revitalizing makeovers of existing commercial properties represent the bulk of the projects, which will provide Palm Desert residents and visitors with more shopping and dining options than ever.
At Westfield Palm Desert, the Coachella Valley’s only regional mall, two anchor department store spaces are under construction in preparation for the arrival of several new tenants. The changes include a two-story space on the north side of the mall where the second floor will be filled by a new Dick’s Sporting Goods store. The first floor will be home to a new World Gym as well as another business that has yet to be named.
An enclosed department store space on the mall’s south side has been entirely re-imagined providing an open and dramatic new mall entrance that will be flanked on either side by a variety of new restaurants.
A block away, One Eleven Town Center is also under construction as contractors reconfigure a mostly vacant strip mall to prepare for the arrival of the region’s first Whole Foods and Nordstrom’s Rack locations. A Home Goods store is also part of this exciting new development, scheduled to be completed and open for business in 2014.
Nearby on Highway 111, a former Toy’s “R” Us location is being remodeled in preparation for the opening of the Coachella Valley’s first Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Palm Desert’s last vacant “big box” commercial space no longer holds that distinction with the announcement that the site of the former Mervyn’s store will be the home of a new PGA Tour Superstore. The 50,000-square-foot store, the company’s third California location, is scheduled to open in fall 2013.
The construction boom extends to El Paseo, Palm Desert’s upscale shopping district, known as the Rodeo Drive of the Desert. There, The Gardens on El Paseo is installing new landscaped gardens and features that include shaded seating areas and walkways, as well as cooling misters for a more pleasurable shopping experience at stores including Tommy Bahama’s, Anthropologie, Louis Vuitton, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Also new to The Gardens this coming season are specialty retailer The Art of Shaving and a breakfast and lunch restaurant, Wilma & Frieda.
Across the street, work is underway on a long-shuttered space to prepare for the debut of Il Corso, a Mediterranean restaurant featuring tapas and wood fired pizzas scheduled to open in late 2013.
The spike in development is not confined to retail and restaurant spaces. At College of the Desert, a half-dozen construction projects are underway as other recently completed multimillion-dollar buildings begin to serve students and faculty.
Work on a $22.2 million gym has commenced, as well as a new building for applied science classes, and a new child development center. Also under construction is a new $1.8 million Stagecraft Studio, where theater arts students can build scenery and do other behind-the-scenes work.
The finishing touches have been completed on the college’s new $25.1 million communications building, and an $8.4 million visual arts building is being built in what the college is describing as a new Arts District.
The news is also exciting at Cal State San Bernardino’s Palm Desert Campus where the arrival of the college’s inaugural freshman class for the start of the fall 2013/2014 quarter officially confirmed the school’s status as the Coachella Valley’s first and only public four-year university.
The recent accreditation of the University of California, Riverside’s new Medical School has paved the way for UCR in Palm Desert to build a new ambulatory medical center as well as continuing medical education and research facilities to complement the medical school. These developments will help fill the regional need for physicians and related medical professionals, and will also help attract additional medical research and related businesses to Palm Desert, increasing employment and economic development.
Palm Desert weathered the national economic downturn while maintaining fiscal responsibility and preserving the uniquely wonderful quality of life enjoyed by residents and visitors. The impressive growth in economic activity taking place in Palm Desert places the community on course to continue its tradition of prosperity and innovation for years to come.
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.
Jean M. Benson
Robert Spiegel, Van Tanner, Susan Marie Weber