View Single Post
Old May 14th, 2008, 04:37 PM
diegodawn's Avatar
diegodawn diegodawn is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: California
Posts: 10

PALM SPRINGS - Several major retailers, including a large bookstore, movie theater and upscale restaurants are interested in leasing in the proposed $500 million to $650 million renovation of the Desert Fashion Plaza in downtown Palm Springs.

Barnes & Noble and a "major movie theater" have signed letters of intent to lease at the Museum Market Plaza, owner John Wessman told The Desert Sun on Wednesday.
Wessman submitted his latest plans to a joint meeting of the Palm Springs City Council and Planning Commission.
He proposes turning the defunct 16-acre Desert Fashion Plaza site into what he calls a thriving lifestyle center, complete with up to 955 condos, as many as 620 hotel rooms and up to 400,000 square feet of retail.
The space would be distributed on a sliding scale, so fewer condos could mean near the high estimate for hotel rooms and retail space, and vice versa.
The buildings would range from 15 to 79 feet high and would be completed in phases, with the first phase along Palm Canyon Drive expected by the end of 2010.
The center would include a public plaza with palm trees and places to sit and relax, office space, a pharmacy, bookstore, condos, and lots of shops and restaurants.
Wessman said he has been ready to move forward and has submitted three or four plans since he purchased the property in December 2001.
Mayor Steve Pougnet countered that, saying Wessman has never submitted a "specific plan."
"If you don't have a project that is economically feasible, it's not going to happen," Wessman told The Desert Sun before the meeting.
The near-empty mall is seen as a hurdle to the revitalization of downtown.
National retailers have nowhere to set up shop and local merchants won't survive without thriving stores, officials said.
Many believe bringing people to live in downtown, along with a public central plaza, a movie theater, bookstore, pharmacy and hotel will help bring life to the area.
"I remember being able to walk through the Hyatt into the mall, then they closed it and it's been an eyesore ever since," said Justin Ummel of Palm Springs.
"That's a whole lot of space that could bring business to Palm Springs," he said. "And it would be nice to go inside and shop around, especially during the summer."
A new street connecting the Palm Springs Art Museum to the Palm Springs Convention Center is something city officials have been working on since the early 1990s, Councilman Chris Mills said earlier this week.
Wessman said he is not sure at this time how much money he might ask for from the city's Community Redevelopment Agency.
"People keep asking me that, even the city," Wessman said.
He also is not sure exactly how many homes or shops would be built.
The environmental review, which would start soon, would determine this, as well as the setbacks, exact height and other factors, Wessman said.
Condos would cost about $600 per square foot.
Wessman said he is not concerned about financing the project, which he estimates will cost $500 million to $650 million.
His vice president, Michael Braun, worked on Wall Street for 12 years and has access to certain funds, Wessman said.
Pougnet said the City Council will discuss the project again May 21 and June 4.
Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat said she was disappointed to see the mall deteriorate and stores leave in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
"We cannot continue with that hole in the middle of our downtown," she said.
Residents and local business owners agreed on Wednesday.
"What we have right now is a dead mall and the hotels and restaurants are the only things that bring tourism in this area," said Palm Springs resident Michael Anthony Montano, marketing director and owner of So. Cal Direct Media.
"I think revitalizing the mall would bring more tourism and businesses. It would also help bring more people, which would help the town's small businesses with the tremendous rent they're paying," he said.
"It's very hard for small businesses to profit out here when they're paying between $3,500 to $5,000 a month in rent."
Shaun Finley, a 15-year resident of Palm Springs, said he would love to see a Banana Republic, Pottery Barn and William Sonoma at the proposed revitalized mall.
"It'll bring more people here instead of making them go to Palm Desert," he said.

Read reactions to this story

Recommend (1)
Report Abuse

roxann wrote:
Much of what I saw last night I actually liked. But 60' means 60'; John Wessman was a driving force in the Downtown Guidelines committee which set that height. He was extremely well versed on the limits before he presented his proposal at Council. He understands setbacks, too.
I agree with much of what has been said by other posters; it is definitely time to move forward but there seems to be the sense here that once the project is approved, it we go up overnight. Dream on. Be prepared for at least five years of major disruption downtown to get this huge project near completion. That was why so many people were hoping for major renovations as opposed to a total tear-down. Nonetheless, it is time to proceed......within the limitations set by the General Plan.
5/1/2008 10:02:38 AM

5/1/2008 9:43:47 AM

Recommend (3)
Report Abuse

buzzyzpop wrote:
Great concept, small adjustments and go for it! Personally I'll miss the Town and Country center, we are losing more and more of our history. BUT, let this project get going. Timing would be perfect for the next economic boom. Just bulldoze DFP now, get moving. It's a great plan!
5/1/2008 8:33:59 AM
Recommend (3)
Report Abuse

kirschbaum wrote:
Small town appeal or ghost town appeal?! Misplaced nostalgia is not going to help PS prosper.
5/1/2008 7:47:44 AM
Reply With Quote