City of Palm Springs
Address : 3200 E Tahquitz Canyon Way,
Palm Springs, California 92262
Phone : 760-323-8259
Reinvesting In Community For Future Generations.
Words by Marissa Willman
Photographs by Ethan Kaminsky
MAYOR: Lisa Middleton
MAYOR PRO TEM: Grace Elena Garner
COUNCIL MEMBERS: Geoff Kors, Christy Holstege, Dennis Woods
YEAR INCORPORATED: 1938
Two years ago, many cities around the country were simply hoping for a return to normal during the height of COVID-19 restrictions. But in 2022, Palm Springs hasn’t just returned to normal— the City is beating tourism records and moving forward with exciting new developments that will benefit the City for generations; emerging as a leader in the Coachella Valley when it comes to reinvestments in the community that enhance both tourism and quality of life.
Tourism Is Paving the Way
Tourism has boomed since 2021, leading to record TOT (transient occupancy taxes) that are reinvested into marketing and economic development for the City. In 2018–2019, the city saw about $36 million in TOT. In 2021–2022, TOT rose to over $53 million.
“Occupancy and average daily rates are at record highs,” says Rob Hampton, General Manager of the Palm Springs Convention Center and Bureau of Tourism. “Thanks to pentup demand after COVID-19 and our strong destination appeal, we’re seeing room nights and bed taxes are significantly up year-overyear. Visitors haven’t been on vacation in a long time and their priorities have changed. They’re more likely to splurge, stay an extra night or book a hotel they’ve never stayed in.”
One of the biggest tourist draws has been the installation of Forever Marilyn and the new Downtown Park, offering arts and outdoor spaces to visitors just off of Palm Canyon Drive.
“The corridor where we installed her, and the new beautiful downtown park — this combination is a one-two punch,” says Aftab Dada, Chairman of PS Resorts. “Now, we are doing musical events every month, and we just approved funding with the Chamber of Commerce so they can move forward aggressively with Wednesday evening concerts.”
Getting to Palm Springs has never been easier, thanks to incredible expansion in air service development over the last year. The Palm Springs International Airport has seen record numbers, setting records in number of flights, airlines, nonstop destinations and passengers in 2022. A full economic impact update will be coming soon to measure the full impact of the airport, says Daniel Meier, Deputy Director of Aviation, Marketing and Air Service at Palm Springs International Airport,
“We’re producing jobs, both directly and indirectly,” Meier says. “With increased air access, we have more people flying locally and more tourists coming into the city, which supports local businesses like hotels and restaurants as these visitors spend throughout the community.”
To meet the growing needs of passengers flying through PSP, the airport has already worked to bring in additional services like expedited security screening through CLEAR. The airport is also planning a complete refresh of dining and shopping options, with new contracts to be awarded in December.
In addition to visitor demand, locals choosing to fly through PSP rather than other regional airports is also critical to the continued growth and expansion at PSP.
“The more demand we have locally, the better chances we have at not only retaining the routes we have but also obtaining more, and even converting more of the seasonal routes to year-round service,” Meier says.
Air service and connectivity is also crucial for another important revenue stream for the City: conventions and group business.
“We had a really good year last year, and bookings are strong for the upcoming year,” according to Hampton, who noted the City can look forward to several large groups this fall.
“We don’t get the same amount of traffic during the weekdays, but that’s why we target groups and conventions for Sunday through Thursday. They are a market with disposable income, and we are bringing them from all over the country and all over the world to spend their money here in Palm Springs,” Dada says.
Investing in New Developments for the City
As tourism continues to break records, a plethor of ultra-cool new hotels are slated for development to meet the increasing need for hotel rooms. Recently opened properties include the boutique Fleur Noire hotel with 21 casitas, bungalows and suites, and The Trixie Motel, helmed by famous drag queen Trixie Mattel and documented on the Discovery+ reality series of the same name.
Upcoming hotel projects underway include the 16-room Blackhaus Hotel and the Thompson Hotel by Hyatt (formerly The Andaz Hotel), which plans to open its first 100 rooms by Spring 2023.
In 2023, the much anticipated Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza will open its doors. Here, guests will be able to immerse themselves in the history, culture, traditions and modern life of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
The complex will include a multitude of experiences, including a 48,000-square-foot museum with exhibits and programming; The Spa at Séc-he that will feature water from the underground Agua Caliente hot mineral spring; and outdoor areas in the Gathering Plaza and Oasis Trail.
Another noteworthy upcoming project is the fully funded restoration and reopening of the historic Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs. An initial goal of $12 million to fund the restoration has been met; the organizers are now looking to increase the goal to $16 million to ensure the renovation and ongoing operations of the theatre are fully supported.
“This is a really exciting project,” according to Interim City Manager Teresa Gallavan. “It is an investment in an iconic and historic building in our downtown, and offers another venue for Palm Springs to showcase the arts in our community.”
The historic theatre will host a variety of diverse performing arts. It will also offer opportunities for the local arts community to utilize the space. Architectural designs for the restoration are underway, and construction is set to begin next spring for a slated Spring 2024 opening.
Improving the Quality of Life for All
The City of Palm Springs is also continuing to invest in projects to improve the quality of life for all residents — two major upcoming projects include a new Homeless Navigation Center that will open next year, and the continued push for the completion of the College of the Desert West Valley Campus.
“The Homeless Navigation Center will be a hub — a centralized location that will provide many services for the unhoused population,” says Gallavan. Services will include behavioral health, physical health, benefit and documentation assistance, case management, computer and job training, clothing vouchers, legal assistance, and family connection services. “The wraparound services are really important,” adds Gallavan.
The Center to be located at 3589 McCarthy Road in the northern part of the city, will offer 80 housing units when Phase One launches in August 2023.
Additionally, the City continues to advocate for the development of the College of the Desert West Valley Campus.
“The city would like to see the plans for a campus at the former Palm Springs mall to be brought to fruition,” Gallavan says. “These plans revolve around hospitality, the culinary arts, digital media, film, sustainable technology, and architecture — industries that are crucial to the growth of our valley.”
Over the next year, the City Council will prioritize the following key pillars: Quality of Life, Environmental Stewardship, Community Infrastructure, and Good Governance.
“What I am most excited about is that there are so many people — City staff, Councilmembers and community partners — who are ready to invest, roll up their sleeves, and get the work done to bring great things to fruition for our City, and quickly,” Gallavan says. “The investments we’re making today will improve the quality of life for residents and visitors for years to come.”
Total Population – 45.935
Median Age – 56.1
Annual Growth Rate – .87%
Average Household Income – 110,808
Median Household Income – 65,530
High School Diploma – 16.49%
Bachelor’s Degree – 25.53%
Graduate / Professional Degree – 18.81%
Retail Trade – 10.11%
Healthcare / Social Assistance – 14.69%
Professional / Scientific / Tech – 10.72%
Construction – 5.57%
Accommodations / Food Service – 13.83%
Arts / Entertainment / Recreation – 4.41%
Education Services – 6.14%
Manufacturing – 3.92%
Transportation / Warehouse – 2.72%
Admin / Support / Waste Management Services – 6.02%
Information – 2.60%
Finance / Insurance – 2.72%
Real Estate / Rental / Leasing – 3.51%
SOURCE: Est/Coachalle Valley Economic Partnership