Council grants historic designation to unique condominium complex despite city staff objections

In objecting to the designation, city staff claimed Villa Roma did not meet enough of the requirements and by granting it the city would be damaging the integrity of the historic preservation program.
The Villa Roma condominium complex in South Palm Springs will be designated a historical district despite city staff recommending against the designation.

Maintaining that architectural preservation shouldn’t be only for the wealthy, a majority of the Palm Springs City Council on Tuesday overruled a staff recommendation and granted historic designation to a unique condominium complex in South Palm Springs.

Looking back: The Villa Roma Garden Homes development, located at the corner of South Sierra Madre and East Avenida Granada, was completed in 1964 and stands out due to its eye-catching Roman-themed design. A majority of the owners of the 69 units on the roughly four-acre property have been seeking historic designation for the property for the past three years.

Local reporting and journalism you can count on.

Subscribe to The Palm Springs Post

  • The designation brings certain tax benefits, but also assures the condominiums and grounds are protected from significant changes.

  • Despite the objections of city staff the Historic Site Preservation Board (HSPB) voted to approve the designation last June. Final approval came before the Council Tuesday evening.

At issue: In recommending against the classification in a 220-page report, city staff claimed the property did not meet enough requirements for historical designation and by granting it the city would be damaging the integrity of the historic preservation program.

  • Villa Roma residents and local preservationists who spoke Tuesday evening took exception to the implication that the condominium complex is less worthy of saving because the units were not multi-million dollar properties built by a famous architects.

  • In addition, a report on the property prepared for the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation in August 2021, stated, “Villa Roma is a fine example of the significant modernist architecture for which Palm Springs is internationally known.”

What they’re saying: While making a motion to approve the designation, Councilmember Christy Holstege sided with the owners and preservationists, saying, “We want to make sure that preservation isn’t just for the elite and multimillion-dollar homes.”

  • “This is an incredibly lovely location and the homeowners there are frequently of more modest means,” said Councilmember Lisa Middleton, whose district includes Villa Roma. “This is something we should move forward with.”

Bottom line: In the end, the Council voted 3-2 to approve the historic designation, with Mayor Grace Garner and Councilmember Ron deHarte voting no. The move was met with a round of applause by Villa Roma residents in Council Chambers.

There’s no Post without you.

Will you help support our newsroom with a small monthly gift?

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top