First Class in Indian Wells

The new Montelena community will preserve a legacy while offering resort amenities.

With luxury homes being built seemingly overnight in Palm Desert and La Quinta, it seems natural that Indian Wells would get a little jealous. It’s tough being the middle child between two prosperous siblings — never mind that this middle child has a higher per capita income and lower crime rate than its siblings, and an internationally known tennis tournament — but don’t start calling Indian Wells “Jan Brady” just yet, especially not with the gleaming jewel being unearthed nearby: Montelena, a gated community spanning 24 acres and featuring 71 homes on the corner of Highway 111 and Eldorado Drive, adjacent to Miramonte Resort.

Built within the confines of the former (and historic) Indian Wells date grove — the trees originally were slated to be reintegrated into the development’s landscaping until arborists determined they’d reached the natural end of their lifespan — Montelena offers a refreshing take on resort living: Each homeowner will enjoy Miramonte’s many amenities, including full housekeeping, concierge, and room service. With homes beginning in the low $600,000s and floor plans ranging from 2,400 to 3,400 square feet, developers envision a community of both permanent and seasonal residents ready to live a first-class life — a prospect that excites Indian Wells Mayor Mary T. Roche.

“Our general plan calls for a resort-residential community — a residential community that has a resort element, which is our industry,” Roche says. “It has made us a very strong city. Indian Wells is a prestigious address and people want to live here, so we have a great need for additional housing.”

With only slightly more than 4,300 single- and multifamily homes in the city, Montelena’s development represents a dramatic upswing in production for Indian Wells. In 2002, for instance, Indian Wells saw only 32 new homes built, a fact not lost on architect Michael Kiner, whose eponymous design firm — along with Gerald Fogelson and contractor TransWest Housing — has been charged with creating Montelena’s distinct Tuscan, French Provencal, and Northern European homes. “It was important to us that this project be of a high quality so that it would be consistent with the standards of Indian Wells,” Kiner says. “From the overall design of the homes, to the fact that the property is fairly low density, to the 115 new date palm trees we’re importing, we’ve tried to create a metaphorical relationship to the history of the city.” 

Preserving the legacy of the area is an ideal close to Kiner’s heart. A lifelong valley resident, he remembers when much of the surrounding land was little more than scrub desert. Times have changed, certainly, and the connection between Montelena and Miramonte represents an interesting alternative to contemporary country club living — a middle ground between the residential and the commercial that fits perfectly with the city’s demographics. “The relationship with the hotel affords us something unique,” Kiner says. “It gives a homeowner the opportunity to have a restaurant, or have a bar, or a have a spa right at their fingertips.”

This vision has caught on quickly: The first phase of Montelena, scheduled for completion in November, has already sold out — remarkable when you consider that the first model homes will not be completed until late July, meaning buyers are betting on floor plans and the priceless nature of an Indian Wells address.

“People come to Indian Wells for the quality of life, period,” Roche says. “The name stands for something, for a lifestyle, and people want that.” With land at a premium, Montelena is one of the final developments that will bear that lofty signature. This makes its location directly across the street from Indian Wells City Hall an emblematic one: The very foundation from which Indian Wells wishes to be viewed can be sampled a mere crosswalk away.

Challenges still abound for Indian Wells, City Manager Greg Johnson concedes. “Transportation, increased traffic, noise, how we’ll mitigate our growth — these are all things to think about looking forward,” he says. If the city’s exuberance for Montelena is any indication, these are issues that can be dealt with in due course while keeping pace with the city’s distinctive vision.

Kiner understands how important that is. “We wanted to do a valuable project with a real identity,” he says. “It’s not going to be cookie cutter by any means. For the city of Indian Wells must be the best.”

Palm Springs Life

Related Articles

Midcentury Design Upgrade Creates New Look for Palm Springs Home

Bringing the outdoors inside literally took on a new meaning in this breakfast room and kitchen project by Dino Raimondi of Dino Designs in Palm Springs.

Revelle at Clancy Lane Adapts Houses to Your Life

Some of the new homes at the Revelle at Clancy Lane in Rancho Mirage may look the same on the exterior, but these houses are the antithesis of cookie-cutter.

Sol Palm Springs Creates 'Escape' Room

Both floor plans at Sol Palm Springs have a third bedroom called the Sol Room that can be used for multiple purposes from reading, watching TV, exercise or work.

Workshop Kitchen + Bar Bartender Wins Title

Zane Tessay, a bartender at Workshop Kitchen + Bar in Palm Springs, created the best drink at the "Battle of the 111 Bartender Competition".

New Construction Taking Off at Toscana Country Club

Construction activity at Toscana is matching the soaring temperatures in the desert with 20 homes under construction and more slated to start in the upcoming months.

Promotions + Contests

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couple’s getaway
90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Each month, a first place winner will be selected to win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!And, each month, three additional runners up will be selected to win a wonderful Palm Springs area Dining certificate!
2013/14 Best of the Best

2013/14 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.