Businessman Ungar Kung sees tremendous potential for The River at Rancho Mirage, the shopping and entertainment center on Highway 111 popular for its movie theater and restaurants. As director of CheerLand Investment Group, which owns the property, he intends to make it an even more vital destination for Coachella Valley residents and visitors.
“Our hope is that The River becomes the heart of the valley,” Kung says, noting that his firm makes programming a top priority. “We see it as the gathering place for the community.”
So far the group has booked 32 weekends of entertainment, including live music and pop-up galleries. Its management works with local organizations to create events such as pet adoptions and school benefits.
Kung’s team started by giving the property some TLC — a little paint to “give it a fresh look,” a shaded carport with solar panels, a dressed-up amphitheater, and beautiful landscaping — and has begun dramatic renovations.
Originally from Taiwan, Kung grew up in South Africa and the eastern U.S. before relocating to Southern California 10 years ago. His firm was built in China, Kung says, but “diversified its portfolio” with projects throughout the U.S., including the Coachella Valley.
“The critical thing is for us — as an operator and owner — is to really embrace change and trends, while maintaining an understanding of what the local population is interested in,” Kung says. When his group knows what the community wants, it will find a creative way to deliver it.
VIDEO: Ungar Kung talks about engaging the community to collaborate on ideas.