Palm Desert

Economic vitality gives Palm Desert exceptional quality

David Hermann

Palm Desert has relied on thoughtful planning and thriving commerce to build a solid civic foundation that generates a superior quality of life for residents and an unforgettable experience for visitors.

Business activity fuels public services in Palm Desert; and the community continues to experience dynamic commercial development, despite a challenging economic climate. Within the past fiscal year, Palm Desert witnessed the opening of new stores such as Louis Vuitton and Eileen Fisher in its El Paseo shopping district. The popular boutique Anthropologie also opened a new store on El Paseo in August, and Atlanta-based gourmet tea chain Teavana followed suit shortly thereafter.

Debuting in fall 2010, El Paseo Village, brings more than 40,000 new square feet of restaurants, retail, and upscale boutiques to Palm Desert including an Apple Store, Mastro’s Steakhouse, bebe, Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand Jeans, Kate Spade, and Janie and Jack. Other national retailers and restaurants continue to embrace the community’s central Coachella Valley location with Sephora, Panera Bread, and Buffalo Wild Wings recently announcing new Palm Desert stores.

The hospitality sector also continues to expand in Palm Desert with the completion of the initial phase of Starwood Westin Desert Willows. This upscale property’s 300 luxurious vacation ownership villas are selling rapidly.

Meanwhile, the adjacent city-owned Desert Willow Golf Resort is adding 6,500 square feet to its Lakeview Terrace. Visitors will discover a new outdoor bar and fireplace, expansive shade canopy, upgraded heating and misting systems, and the addition of a fire pit with comfortable lounge seating from which to take in Desert Willow’s majestic views of the natural desert and surrounding mountains. The expansion includes a larger, upgraded kitchen to serve the 125 additional diners that the new space will accommodate.

Public sector development also continues with the recent grand opening of the 85,000-square-foot Riverside County Palm Desert Sheriff Station on Gerald Ford Drive between Monterey and Portola avenues. The state-of-the-art station includes facilities for investigation, patrol, and traffic units, as well as processing, accounting, and evidence storage areas. The new station also includes sustainable, environmentally friendly features including solar panels; native, drought-tolerant landscaping, low-flow plumbing fixtures; and energy-efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems. It will be Riverside County’s first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified sheriff station and will serve the cities of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and Indian Wells, as well as nearby unincorporated county areas.

A magnificent addition to Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park, the city’s new Aquatic Center should make a big splash with competitive and recreational swimmers when it debuts in 2011. The nearly eight-acre project will feature two pools, diving boards, slides, play features, shade structures, and a main building containing multiple changing rooms, offices, and a concession stand. The just over $11.1 million complex will be located on the northeast corner of Civic Center Park, with access from Magnesia Falls Drive. The center’s parking lot will be integrated into the city’s existing date grove. In keeping with Palm Desert’s commitment to the environment, the structure will meet LEED specifications to ensure that it is sustainable and energy efficient.

These environmentally friendly projects are consistent with Palm Desert’s commitment to reduce energy demand and use in the community by 30 percent in partnership with its utilities (Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Co.) and The Energy Coalition. The partnership’s Set to Save rebate program and the city’s ground breaking Energy Independence loan program are among the reasons why The Wall Street Journal has profiled Palm Desert as one of nine top cities in the world on the leading edge of energy efficiency.

Palm Desert occupies the Coachella Valley’s geographic center, but it has become the region’s education center as well, with four college campuses and a new $64 million high school that is already under construction. The 238,000-square-foot Palm Desert High School is scheduled to be completed and ready to host classes in September 2011.

Earlier in 2010, the new Donald and Peggy Cravens Student Services Center opened at College of the Desert. The $17 million, 48,132-square-foot building anchors an expanded front entrance to the college. It houses all of the student services programs under one roof, making admissions and enrollment services, counseling, and a variety of other services that were formerly scattered across campus more convenient for students.

Other recently completed buildings at College of the Desert include the Coeta and Donald Barker Nursing Complex, the Public Safety Academy at Palm Desert, the Alumni Center, and a new central plant. Two more classroom buildings are scheduled to begin later this year, with additional facilities planned through the year 2015. The extensive construction will allow the college to train even more certified, highly skilled workers in the fields of law enforcement, hospitality management, agribusiness, alternative fuels automotive, culinary arts, early childhood education, and emergency medical technician training, among others.

College of the Desert is not the only institution of higher learning producing highly trained professionals in Palm Desert. The first class of bachelor of science nursing students recently graduated from California State University, San Bernardino’s Palm Desert campus. These future nurses were trained in a state-of-the-art lab equipped with patient simulators that allow students to diagnose a variety of real-world medical conditions.

With its ample educational and recreational opportunities, healthy balance sheet, and strategic location in the heart of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is poised to continue its tradition of prosperity and innovation. To learn more about business opportunities in Palm Desert, contact the city’s Economic Development Division at 1-760-346-0611 or visit

Palm Desert Mayor Cindy Finerty Mayor: Cindy Finerty
Mayor Pro Tem: Jim Ferguson
Council Members: Jean M. Benson, Robert A. Spiegel
Year Incorporated: 1973
Population: 51,509
Median Household Income: $51,999