A new entry is part of the $2.5 million renovation and expansion at Palm Springs Air Museum.

New Arena, Museum Entrance Part of Coachella Valley Economic Growth

In a destination on the grow, progress is the name of the game.

Marissa Willman Attractions, Progress, Vision

A new entry is part of the $2.5 million renovation and expansion at Palm Springs Air Museum.

A new entry is part of the $2.5 million renovation and expansion at Palm Springs Air Museum.

The allure of the desert never grows old, although it’s the exciting progress that keeps Greater Palm Springs top of mind — not only for sun-loving visitors, but also for entrepreneurs and professionals who appreciate the quality of life. We’re seeing innovative residential and commercial development, creative downtown revitalization, and ambitious initiatives in education and transportation. Here’s an overview of what’s new and coming soon in Greater Palm Springs.

All the Desert’s a Stage

The 2022 opening of Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert transformed the entertainment landscape in Greater Palm Springs — and built community around the region’s first minor league sports team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Designed for American Hockey League games and live concerts, Oak View Group’s 10,000-seat arena hosted Harry Styles, Jimmy Buffet, Reba McEntire, and Lizzo in its inaugural season and will welcome Madonna, KISS, and Stevie Nicks this fall and winter. Meanwhile, the Firebirds advanced to the final playoff rounds of the Calder Cup and drew almost 400,000 in total attendance over 48 home games.

In downtown Palm Springs, the historic Plaza Theatre, built in 1936, will undergo a $16 million restoration. In its heyday, the stage hosted the likes of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Frank Sinatra. From 1990 to 2014, it was the home of The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies. Once renovated, the Plaza Theatre will stage concerts, musical shows, theatrical plays, film screenings, and cabaret.

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The Coachella Valley Firebirds hockey team plays at the Acrisure Arena.

The cities of Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, and Coachella each recently added amphitheaters and host live performances. These add to existing entertainment venues such as the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs, Coachella Valley Repertory in Cathedral City, and Indio Performing Arts Center.

Connecting Communities

CV Link promises to transform the desert in a different way with a scenic, valleywide transportation route for pedestrians, cyclists, and low-speed electric vehicles. The path, designed to promote healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, will largely parallel Highway 111, the major thoroughfare of Greater Palm Springs. Three sections are already open for public use in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Palm Desert. Construction is underway to add pathways in Palm Desert, La Quinta, and Indio.

In downtown Palm Springs, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians — the first inhabitants of the region — look forward to sharing their heritage and culture with residents and visitors at the new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza, which includes the state-of-the-art Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and The Spa at Séc-he, featuring 22 private mineral baths connected to the tribe’s sacred 12,000-year-old hot spring.

Armando’s Bar

El Mirosol and Coachella Valley Coffee at the Palm Springs International Airport.

In 2024, the youngest Coachella Valley residents and visitors will have a newly revamped Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert to enjoy. The reopening — part of a five-phase plan — will debut reimagined experiences and programming.

Meanwhile, Palm Springs Air Museum is undergoing a $2.5 million renovation and expansion, including a redesigned entrance, a 400-seat educational space, and an overall modern look. The museum, one of the region’s top visitor attractions, sees more than 100,000 visitors each year.

Friendlier Skies

As Greater Palm Springs’ popularity among leisure and business travelers grows, so does access through the region’s award-winning airport. In recent years, Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) saw record-breaking passenger volume, as well as many new routes. Most recently, Alaska Airlines announced a nonstop service to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York beginning this winter.

The airport is developing a master plan for growth and management over the next two decades. Meanwhile, improvements are already underway. In February, the Federal Aviation Administration awarded PSP $5.7 million to renovate and expand the baggage claim area. The airport is also reimagining its retail and restaurant landscape, doubling the number of dining options and incorporating more local businesses. The locally loved Palm Springs Farmers Market will offer a selection of local gourmet foods and snacks, while Trio and El Mirasol restaurants will add airport outposts. Revamped retail offerings will also showcase local retailers and artists from the Coachella Valley and Joshua Tree areas.

an Educated Workforce

Businesses in the region’s core and emerging economies — hospitality, healthcare, renewable energy, and education — need a strong local workforce. Many of them look to College of the Desert and the Palm Desert campus of California State University, San Bernardino. Both institutions are on the grow.

COD is expanding across the Coachella Valley, with construction underway to expand its Indio campus with a three-story building with classrooms, office space, science labs, a student success services center, study areas, and café. A Child Development Center will be constructed across the street from the campus, offering classroom and play yard settings for toddler and preschool-aged children. The expansion  will increase access to higher education in the East Valley.

A Palm Springs campus is also in the design phase, slated for a 27-acre area of reclaimed land at the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Farrell Drive. The campus will focus on hospitality, culinary arts, architecture, and digital media.

CSUSB Palm Desert, the area’s only four-year institution, has a master plan to transform the campus from commuter to residential.

Technical training will be the focus at Roadrunner Motors, an automotive-focused training facility to be developed in Cathedral City. Currently in the design phase, Roadrunner Motors will provide classroom-based and hands-on education in automotive technology.

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The new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in downtown Palm Springs features The Spa at Séc-he and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

Experiences in the Works

In lockstep with the region’s progress, new hotels and residential developments are coming to market. In Palm Springs, Hyatt will open the Thompson Palm Springs on Palm Canyon Drive late this year, bringing an additional 168 rooms and 8,000 square feet of meeting space to the downtown area. Near the Palm Springs Convention Center, the Dream Hotel recently received city approval for a mix of hotel rooms and condominiums, with groundbreaking expected in 2024.

In Rancho Mirage, Cotino, Storyliving by Disney is bringing residential offerings ranging from condominiums to single-family homes to estates as well as a variety of dining, retail, and entertainment options.

It’s easy to see why Greater Palm Springs is all abuzz. The region’s economy is firing on all cylinders. With each new development, momentum builds and shpes the future with exciting opportunities. It’s getting better all the time.