The newly redeveloped Downtown Project at the intersection of Palm Canyon Drive and East Tahquitz Canyon Way.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE CITY OF PALM SPRINGS
Even amidst a global pandemic, the City of Palm Springs continues to experience an extraordinary renaissance thanks to years of strategic economic investment in downtown redevelopment, hotel renovations, and air service development.
Today, those efforts are paying off — particularly in the area of air service. To the delight of residents and visitors alike, Southwest Airlines recently announced new year-round service at Palm Springs International Airport with direct routes to Oakland, Denver, and Phoenix. dditionally, several major and boutique airlines have committed to bringing new or expanded service, connecting Palm Springs to destinations including San Jose, Boise, Reno/Lake Tahoe, Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Eugene, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
“Over the last 10 years, the City has strategically focused on growing our local tourism economy by improving our Convention Center, incentivizing new hotels and renovations and revitalizing our downtown,” says City Manager David H. Ready.
Mayor Pro Tem:
Grace Elena Garner
“All of this has come together to bring Palm Springs back as a premier destination and we’re seeing that manifest as additional new airlines recognize that Palm Springs is experiencing a renaissance and they want to be part of it.”
Hotels have also remained a strong part of the city’s tourist economy, thanks largely in part to the city’s hotel incentive program that launched in 2010. Over the last decade, hotels have been able to leverage the incentive program to renovate their stock, while improving the visitor experience.
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Real estate and vacation rentals also remain a bright spot in the city’s economy, with Airbnb recently recognizing Palm Springs as one of its top 10 trending destinations. As consumer demand for vacation rentals remains high, the city has led the way locally in short-term rental management by implementing an enforcement model that ensures renters are following regulations.
“We certainly want visitors to come to Palm Springs and enjoy our unique vacation rentals,” says Ready. “At the same time, we’ve taken proactive steps to ensure we’re maintaining the integrity of the neighborhoods where these rentals are located.”
Jennifer Lopez at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
As several years worth of hard work is paying dividends for the local economy, the city has also had to pivot to support local businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to state COVID-19 regulations, the City proactively launched a new landing page located at palmspringsca.gov for residents and businesses with the latest updated information about state health and safety guidelines for reopening businesses, rental and unemployment assistance — and much more. In addition, a new “al fresco” outdoor dining pilot program launched in order to allow downtown restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas. The city is providing K-rail barriers to allow other restaurants to expand their patios into parking lanes and parklets.
“In addition to retail, restaurants are a key part of our tourist economy,” says Ready. “We’ve been working to create a fertile environment for everyone to succeed and we are continuing to refine programs with that in mind.”
At the same time, the city and its stakeholders have recognized the importance of the health and safety of both residents and visitors. In an effort to maintain public health while continuing to welcome tourists, the “P.S. Keeping You Safe” campaign was born. The campaign was a collaborative effort between the City, P.S. Resorts, the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism and the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce.
“Knowing that tourism is the lifeblood of hoteliers and the overall economy, we decided to come up with a consistent campaign to remind tourists to observe local mask mandates,” says Aftab Dada, Chairman of P.S. Resorts. Through billboards and signage at highly visible locations throughout town, tourists and residents are reminded to wear their masks and socially distance.
“The goal is that anyone who comes into town clearly understands that facial coverings and social distancing are important to the safety and well-being of our community,” adds Ready.
Rendering of the new Downtown Park.
Even throughout COVID-19, the city continues to reinvest in its community. A new interactive art installation, “Love Letters,” was recently installed near the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs. The Instagram-worthy art piece is set to become a social media staple for the city. Another fun Instagram-worthy Public Arts program in downtown is the “Street Art Bench Pilot Program.” Just take a stroll down Palm Canyon Drive and you’ll find vibrantly colored benches created by talented local artists for the relaxing pleasure of residents and visitors alike.
The Street Art Bench Pilot Program commissioned 17 new artists.
The Instagram-worthy art piece “Love Letters” recently installed near the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs.
The much-anticipated new Downtown Park also continues to move forward as one of the final pieces of the renovation plan that has revitalized downtown over the last four years. Set to open in mid-2021, the park will feature palm groves, a small amphitheater, fountains, and open areas for residents and visitors to relax and enjoy Palm Springs’ scenic views. The park will also include a police substation and underground parking; ultimately serving as a gateway between the newly renovated downtown area on Palm Canyon Drive and the Palm Springs Art Museum.
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The wildly popular Forever Marilyn statue is also slated for a future possible return to Palm Springs, with ongoing negotiations targeting a proposed location in the area of the new Downtown Park.
Another exciting addition on the horizon is the new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza. Honoring the rich history and culture of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. The Plaza will feature the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, The Spa at Séc-he that celebrates the sacred Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring, a Gathering Plaza, gardens and a meandering trail.
“As we start to recover more fully from COVID, Palm Springs will be able to bounce back with resiliency because of the work City has done over the past 10 years,” according to Ready.
“We now have synergy and partnership between the newly renovated downtown, Convention Center, new and improved hotels, in conjunction with development by the Agua Caliente that will continue to drive our local economy for years to come,” said Ready. “It’s been a long journey, but it’s also been incredible to see how Palm Springs has reinvented itself into an inclusive, world-class city that is uniquely like no place else.”
Total Population: 47,840
Median Age: 55.7
Annual Growth Rate: 0.90%
Average Household Income: $91,907
Median Household Income: $55,452
(% of population)
Healthcare/Social Assistance: 15.95
Accommodation/Food Services: 11.67
Professional/Scientific/Tech Services: 10.80
Retail Trade: 9.42
Educational Services: 6.60
Admin/Support/Waste Management Services: 6.30
Other Services (excluding Public Administration): 5.73
Real Estate/Rental/Leasing: 3.95
(% of population age 25 and older)
High School Diploma: 17.45
Bachelor’s Degree: 22.11
Graduate/Professional Degree: 17.09
Source: Esri/Coachella Valley Economic Partnership