COD Palm Springs campus inches forward after review of revised plans aimed at addressing public concerns

Some of the biggest changes reflect concerns city residents had raised about traffic at the main entrance off Farrell Drive.
A rendering of what a planned College of the Desert satellite campus could look like when finished at the site of a former mall in Palm Springs.

A slightly revised final version of the schematic designs for the College of the Desert’s Palm Springs campus was presented to the project management team in Palm Desert Wednesday morning, helping push forward a project more than a decade in the making.

Members of the project management team, including Dr. Scott Adkins with the college and Flinn Fagg, deputy city manager of Palm Springs, reviewed the designs, specifically pointing out tweaks they made after hearing from Palm Springs residents last week during a city Planning Commission workshop.

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Some of the biggest changes reflect concerns the residents raised in last week’s meeting. For example, the design for the main entrance on Farrell has been narrowed to one lane in and one lane out. Residents and Planning Commission members had worried the campus wasn’t sufficiently pedestrian-oriented.

Residents also wanted further information about the use of drought-tolerant and native plants and the efforts to reduce urban heat island effects. Mitch Fine, a partner at WRNS Studio, the architecture firm working on the plans, said the landscaping would be 100% drought-tolerant, with 50% native plants. Fine also mentioned studying ways to create better permeability for water filtration and performing a sun path study to ensure the campus remains comfortable.

Residents also raised the possibility of an increased traffic load and the amount of parking. The project team said they will now conduct traffic, parking, and noise studies.

The design now moves into the design development stage, where architects and designers will further refine the plans before producing finalized construction documents.

College officials had approved an earlier version of the designs in February, and gave the project management team and consultants time to revise the design with input from city leaders, faculty, and residents.

The completion of the schematic design process marks another step toward the realization of a west valley campus. Initial talks and plans for a campus in Palm Springs began almost 20 years ago. Since then, the project has had to move locations, change scope and then revert, and survive feuding within the Board of Trustees.

Next week, the project team will have its first meeting with the Division of the State Architect before embarking on the design development phase through November, when they will further refine the plans. They intend to have the finalized construction documents by October 2024, Construction could start in late 2024 and conclude in 2026.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Adkins thanked the project management team and described the unprecedented process. 

“The schematic design process is normally very collaborative, but mostly not a public one,” he said. 


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