Like a priceless diamond, Palm Springs — arguably the Coachella Valley’s crown jewel — has of late been polished to an unprecedented luster. Its constant achievements and enhancements, many of which are set to culminate in 2020, will ensure the appeal of this premier desert oasis well into the next decade and beyond.
The three prongs anchoring the gemstone that is the city’s economy are the Palm Springs Convention Center, the town’s hotel stock, and the rejuvenation of its downtown.
The convention center’s new management agreement with AEG — the parent company of Goldenvoice, which produces not only summer pool party Splash House but both the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals — is sure to bring more high-profile concerts and events to the venue.
Mayor Pro Tem:
PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
The Palm Springs International Airport welcomes passengers from around the world and continues to perfect every traveler’s experience thanks to more direct flights.
“The city has high hopes and is confident that this partnership will continue the trajectory we’re on,” says Palm Springs City Manager David H. Ready. “We believe AEG has a significant networking ability and the resources to drive our local tourism economy.”
With The Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Hotel having been unveiled to great acclaim — and the Andaz Hotel by Hyatt property targeted for completion in 2020 — all these vacationers and conventioneers will have more than enough beds upon which to rest their sleepy heads, though many may opt for other recently renovated accommodations such as the Arrive Hotel, Saguaro, and Ace Hotel & Swim Club, or one of our sublime boutique hotels like Colony Palms, L’Horizon, Sparrows Lodge, Holiday House, or La Serena Villas.
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As for the intersection of Palm Canyon Drive and East Tahquitz Canyon Way, it’s virtually unrecognizable from its previous incarnation, with the Downtown Redevelopment Project having replaced the old mall with a rich raft of retailers and eateries that includes H&M, MAC Cosmetics, West Elm, Free People, Johnny Was, Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar & Store, Blaze Pizza, Lolly & Pops, Starbucks Reserve, Il Corso Italian Restaurant, and many more.
Moving forward, the Palm Springs City Council has implemented polices to maintain and grow our local economy with a revised hotel incentive program, business renovation grants, and the façade improvement program, to name a few. Importantly, the focus is also on our unique small businesses, uptown, downtown, and citywide. For example, “Uniquely Palm Springs” is a new program in collaboration with the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism and the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce that focuses on local merchants. The Council’s policy of supporting our small businesses is a cornerstone of the city becoming the unique destination it is.
Thanks to the efforts of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission, sculptures and murals—from Julian Voss-Andreae’s Isabelle and David Cerny’s Babies to Sofia Enriquez’ Con Tus Tías and Colette Miller’s Angel Wings — are in everyone’s line of vision. Those seeking even more objets d’art can take Museum Way toward the Palm Springs Art Museum, which for the first time is both visible and accessible from downtown.
Still to come is the Downtown Park — designed by renowned Los Angeles–based architects Rios, Clementi, Hale Studios — which will boast a palm tree grove inspired by the Indian Canyons, a water feature, and an amphitheater for all kinds of original arts and entertainment specific to Palm Springs. Efforts are also underway to restore the beloved landmark Plaza Theatre, in the heart of downtown, with a much-needed $12 million facelift.
“Combine all this with what’s occurring across the street with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and its cultural museum, spa, arena, and casino — we’re the only city in California with a downtown casino — and it’s clear that this synergy is going to be significant in moving us forward as a destination,” says Bureau of Tourism Director Mary Jo Ginther. “It’s all coming together.”
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Is it any wonder people are pouring into town all year round? Virtually every month sees a world-class event take place—and draw crowds—within city limits. It all starts with January’s Palm Springs International Film Festival and February’s (and October’s) Modernism Week, and ensues with White Party, Dinah Shore Weekend, Tour de Palm Springs, Comic Con, the Palm Springs International ShortFest and Film Market, Greater Palm Springs Pride Weekend, and the much-loved Festival of Lights holiday parade in December.
Measure J tax dollars — which come from a 1 percent increase in sales tax overwhelmingly approved by voters — guarantee that infrastructure and services can continue to be improved for the benefit of this growing influx of residents and visitors.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RICH FURY/GETTY IMAGES
Emily Blunt and the cast of Mary Poppins at the 30th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Awards Gala at Palm Springs Convention Center.
“The reinvention of the Palm Springs destination and the renaissance underway is truly remarkable, but I think what makes us proudest is knowing that if someone’s having one of the worst days of their life — they need a firefighter or a police officer — we’re going to be there for them,” says Ready. “But we also want to be there if you’re having a great day. You’re spending some time uptown or downtown, you’re enjoying our parks, trails, shops, and restaurants. No matter what kind of day you’re having, we want to play a part in your life. That’s what drives everything we do.
“The challenge, of course, is making sure we have enough resources to provide all these services. You have to have a growing economy that produces revenue. But at the same time, the City Council wants to ensure residents feel that their community is their home. A good example of that is our vacation rental ordinance. It works to make sure residents are not disturbed by vacation rentals that fulfill a need in our tourism economy. The City Council has worked diligently to achieve such a balance.
“The whole idea of city government excites and motivates me — together with our entire team at City Hall. We affect people’s lives every day. How do we improve service? How can we be more helpful? How do we take our city to a better place? It’s all about collaboration and working together for our community to ensure the magic of the Palm Springs destination continues to thrive for generations to come.”
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Nearly 50 pecent of the city’s roads have been repaved or repaired, and downtown’s Welwood Memorial Public Library, Fire Station No. 4 in South Palm Springs, and the Palm Springs Police Department have all been newly renovated — plus we have more first responders.
Finally, let’s not forget the incredible success of Palm Springs International Airport, which this year expects to welcome 2.6 million passengers from around the world. Where else in the world can you hop off a flight and be sitting by the pool at your resort 10 minutes later? The airport continues to perfect every traveler’s experience thanks to more direct flights on popular airlines like Alaska, American, United, Delta, West Jet, Air Canada, and JetBlue, along with upgrades to the terminal, free Wi-Fi, and concessions for visitors. About $100 million in additional enhancements is in the pipeline, including a new car rental facility and a newly modernized ticketing wing.
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