palm desert downtown

Palm Desert: A Wave of Progress

David Hermann Current PSL, Vision

palm desert downtown
San Pablo Avenue has been transformed into a destination for walking, biking, and fun in the heart of Palm Desert’s new downtown.

Ever resilient, Palm Desert is adapting to the challenges and capitalizing on opportunities presented by unprecedented times. The worldwide pandemic has not derailed the dynamic development and fresh ideas that are propelling this unique community forward as the City’s plans for a reimagined and revitalized downtown continue to move from inspiration to construction.

At the heart of the exciting changes — and of Palm Desert’s new downtown — is San Pablo Avenue. The first phase of a transformation of this centrally located thoroughfare into a more active and inviting connection between El Paseo, Highway 111, CV Link, College of the Desert, and the Palm Desert Civic Center is now complete.

Improvements include: expanded sidewalks where area businesses can offer street side dining and outdoor merchandise displays.


Gina Nestande

Mayor Pro Tem:

Kathleen Kelly

Council Members:

Jan Harnik
Sabby Jonathan
Susan Marie Weber

Year Incorporated:



The City has also planted dozens of shade trees and installed pocket parks, protected bike lanes, and a roundabout. The goal is to make San Pablo a destination for commerce, community, and special events that is also business, pedestrian, and bicycle friendly.

Construction on the project’s second phase, which will bring similar changes to San Pablo from Fred Waring Drive to Magnesia Falls Drive, has begun with completion expected in fall 2021.


A rendering of the Palm Desert iHub located near CSUSB Palm Desert.

San Pablo provides a key connection to CV Link, which after more than a year of planning and anticipation, is under now construction in Palm Desert.

The more than 40-mile alternative transportation pathway will better connect Palm Desert as a community while providing an attractive outdoor recreational and amenity for visitors and residents and a safe route to and from school for thousands of local students.

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Palm Desert’s section of CV Link will include dual pathways to separate pedestrians from bicycles and low-speed electric vehicles; shade structures with solar panels and USB charging outlets; rest areas and benches; drinking fountains; wayfinding and Interpretive signs; public art; new landscaping; and much more.

Construction is expected to take 
about a year. It is estimated that by 
2035, CV Link will facilitate more than 
3 million bicycle and pedestrian trips per year, encouraging healthy and active transportation while relieving traffic congestion and improving air quality.

CV Link is part of Palm Desert’s recently updated General Plan, which in addition to enhanced connectivity has opened the door to multi-story and mixed-use projects that will help the City realize its Envision Palm Desert Strategic Plan’s vision of a vibrant downtown.

A perfect example can be found on the southeast corner of San Pablo and Fred Waring Drive, where a three-story complex has been proposed that includes 14,000 square feet of ground level specialty retail and restaurant space topped by 60 residences.

This type of project represents the kind of smart urban development in Palm Desert that City planners are working to facilitate throughout the downtown core.

Growing opportunities for creative development are making waves beyond downtown, including a patch of sand in the City’s north end where a proposed 18-acre resort is set to break preconceptions about the kinds of fun to be found in the desert.

Scheduled to open in 2022, DSRT Surf will give surfing enthusiasts, from novices to pros, a year-round opportunity to catch and ride their perfect wave in a climate that averages 360 days of annual sunshine. The project features a professional grade surfing lagoon complemented by a surf center, private villas, and a resort hotel.

Located less than a sand wedge away from the City’s award winning Desert Willow Golf Resort and across the street from the Coachella Valley’s largest hotel — the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa — DSRT Surf is a refreshingly unique project that is poised to become a must-see Southern California attraction.

The City has created an innovation hub that will complement the entrepreneur and cybersecurity programs and courses offered at neighboring CSUSB Palm Desert.

New housing units for current and furture students.

Home to both Cal State University and University of California satellite campuses, Palm Desert also continues to establish itself as the region’s education and innovation center.

In addition to the more than 1,000 housing units that are being developed under Palm Desert’s University Neighborhood Specific Plan, the City has created an innovation hub that will complement the entrepreneur and cybersecurity programs and courses offered at neighboring CSUSB Palm Desert.

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The City has partnered with the University and the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership on the Palm Desert iHub to utilize the high speed broadband system that serves the neighboring university campuses to attract new technology based startup companies and related jobs, further expanding the regional economy.

Priority One Coachella Valley, a nonprofit partnership that includes the City, Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership was created this year to enhance the arts, cultural and educational resources of Palm Desert and the Coachella Valley. The nonprofit’s primary focus is the expansion of Palm Desert’s existing Cal State satellite campus into a standalone California State University, Palm Desert, that will provide additional high quality educational opportunities throughout the region.

Near the university campuses, commercial development continues to thrive in Palm Desert with a new retail center called Monterey Crossing under construction at the northeast corner of Dinah Shore and Monterey Avenue.

The 18-acre project includes a 130-room, four-story hotel along with 130,000 square feet of single-story commercial space. Signed tenants include Chick-Fil-A along with other fast casual dining options such as Dickey’s BBQ and Pokehana. Next door, a new CarMax was recently built and opened.

These are just a few of the many exciting changes taking place in Palm Desert. To learn more about development and business opportunities, contact the City’s Economic Development Division at 760-346-0611 or visit online at



Total Population: 52,807

Median Age: 57.6

Annual Growth Rate: 1.33%

Average Household Income: $105,011

Median Household Income: $64,857

(% of population)

Social Assistance: 14.63

Retail Trade: 11.32

Accommodation/Food Services: 10.29

Professional/Scientific/Tech Services: 9.31

Educational Services: 7.93

Construction: 7.12

Other Services (excluding Public Administration): 6.14

Admin/Support/Waste Management Services: 5.75

Real Estate/Rental/Leasing: 4.87

Arts/Entertainment/Recreation: 4.86

Manufacturing: 3.87

Finance/Insurance: 3.50

(% of population age 25 and older)

High School Diploma: 19.06

Bachelor’s Degree: 22.66

Graduate/Professional Degree: 15.23

Source: Esri/Coachella Valley Economic Partnership