New life for efforts to restore an old piece of city history is starting to appear.
The Plaza Theatre, located at 128 S. Palm Canyon Dr., has languished ever since The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies closed its show there in May 2014. It was the subject of a fundraising drive starting in 2019 that, although it had some early momentum, saw that momentum halted in 2020 as financial concerns brought on by COVID-19 shifted priorities of potential backers. The total raised so far is estimated to be roughly $500,000 of the $12 million needed to fully restore and upgrade the theater.
Whether fundraising begins again in earnest, and whether the building can be used to host fundraising events, remains to be seen. An important first step in allowing any events at the theater comes this week as the Palm Springs City Council considers allocating $50,000 for minor updates needed to make the building safe for occupancy. That consideration is on the Council’s agenda Thursday evening.
Money from the city, if approved, would go toward making minor improvements to the theater needed for occupancy during the planned Oasis Music Festival in October. Organizers of that event, including Palm Springs Life Magazine and former City Councilmember J.R. Roberts — a current member of the city’s Planning Commission — hope the theater can serve as a hub during the four-day festival. They plan to earmark a portion of any event profits for restoration of the theater.
Roberts and backers from the magazine presented a “Restoration and Operations Proposal” for the theater to the city on July 1. In it, they identified more than two dozen immediate operational and safety issues that would need to be resolved before the theater can open its doors for any public events.
“This city-wide festival will animate the historical and contemporary music venues viable in the City today,” Roberts and other Oasis organizers wrote in the proposal. “The Theatre will be the perfect hub … due to its historical significance, local nostalgia, central location, and charm.”
City staff that reviewed the proposal recommend the Council approve the funds in a report expected to be presented during the Council’s July 22 meeting.
Opened in 1936, the theater was included in the La Plaza complex originally built by architect Harry Williams with funds from Julia Carnell, an heir to the National Cash Register Corporation fortune. Its stage has hosted some of America’s most famous performers and performances, including radio shows by Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. The city took over ownership of the theater in 2012.
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MURAL PLAN: The fate of a mural honoring George Floyd that hangs at a building destined for a complete remodel, first reported in the Daily Briefing on Friday, is a bit more clear today. Palm Springs Public Arts Commissioner Russell Pritchard, who commissioned the mural, said this weekend that the Arts Commission will vote to allocate funds to move and restore the mural at its next meeting, Wednesday, July 21. Pritchard said he expects the mural to be moved to “an appropriate location, hopefully downtown or some other highly visible spot in Palm Springs.” He added that the owner of the building at 311 N. Indian Canyon Dr. “will work with our timeline and help us save the mural.” The building, a former Greyhound bus station built in 1959, is slated to next house a retail cannabis business.
POWER SEASON ENDS: The Palm Springs Power finished the 2021 season with a 17-3 record following a 2-1 loss to the Colton Knights Saturday at Palm Springs Stadium. The Power, managed by Casey Dill, plays for two months each summer in the city, allowing collegiate players to showcase their talents. The team’s season was canceled last year due to COVID-19. Next up for baseball in the city is the California Winter League, held for one month every winter to provide free-agent baseball players a chance to play before professional scouts before spring training begins
FRIDAY FIRE: A small brush fire south of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway that produced visible smoke on Friday, July 16 was quickly knocked down, Palm Springs fire officials said. According to Capt. Nathan Gunkel, crews were able to limit the blaze to a single acre. Crews remained on the scene to monitor the blaze, declaring it fully contained the following day.
THIS WEEK’S EVENTS
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers four programs today, beginning at 8 AM. For a complete list of today’s offerings for registered members, turn here.
READING, CRAFTS PROGRAMS: Multiple reading and crafts programs are underway in the city, and most have a presence on YouTube today starting at 10 AM:
- Information about “Read-To-Me Story Time and Craft” for preschool and kindergarten students can be found here.
- Information about the adult summer reading program and craft projects (this week’s project is “Tie Die Coasters”) can be found here.
- Information about a children’s summer reading program and craft projects (this week’s project is “Snake Craft”) can be found here.
- Information about a teen summer reading program and crafts projects can be found here. This week’s project is action figures from Endgame.
STRATEGIC PLANNING: The Sustainability Commission’s Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Strategic Planning will host a General Plan update starting at 4 PM on Zoom. Information on that meeting can be found here.
ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW: The city’s Architectural Review Committee meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. More information on that meeting can be found here.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers 11 programs, starting at 8 AM. For a complete list of today’s offerings, turn here.
WATER BOARD: The Desert Water Agency (DWA) Board of Directors meets at 8 AM. More information about how to participate or listen in, as well as an agenda, can be found here.
SUSTAINABILITY: The city’s Sustainability Commission meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information about how to join that meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.
DISTRICT 1 MEETING: Palm Springs City Councilmember Grace Garner will hold a community meeting to address recent violence in her district. Space is limited for the meeting, planned for the James O. Jesse Community Center at 6 PM. A live stream will take place on Garner’s Facebook page here. The meeting follows the shooting death of a 19-year-old Indio woman on July 9 in the area of Bon Air Drive and Granada Avenue. Police, who will be on hand for the meeting, are still investigating the shooting. Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call 760-323-8145. Anonymous information can also be provided to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers multiple programs, including Dick Brodie’s Jam Session, iPad Basics, card games, dominoes, chair yoga, and more, starting at 8 AM. For a complete list of today’s offerings, turn here.
BOOK CLUB: The Palm Springs Public Library’s Afternoon Book Club meets via Zoom, starting at 2 PM. This month the club is discussing Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert. To receive meeting information for the book club, please email Scott Biegen in advance at email@example.com
NOISE COMMITTEE: The Palm Springs Airport Commission Noise Committee meets at 4 PM. Information about that meeting can be found here.
AIRPORT COMMISSION: The Palm Springs Airport Commission meets at 5:30 PM. More information about that meeting can be found here.
PLANNING COMMISSION: The Palm Springs Planning Commission has a special meeting, starting at 5:30 PM. On the agenda is the appointment of members of the Architectural Review Committee and discussion of the housing element of the draft land use plan and proposed buildout for the city. More information about the meeting can be found here.
ARTS COMMISSION: The Palm Springs Public Arts Commission holds its regular meeting at 5:30 PM via Zoom. More information about the meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers nine programs, starting at 8 AM. Today’s complete schedule can be found here.
SMALL HOTELS: The Palm Springs Small Hotel Tourism Business Improvement District Advisory Board holds a meeting at 4 PM. More information about that meeting can be found here.
FOOD AVAILABLE: FIND Food Bank distributes food in the city today at two locations. A mobile market will be set up at the James O. Jessie Desert Highlands Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 5 PM to 6:30 PM. Food is also available at the community food bank, 610 S. Belardo Road, between 5 PM and 7 PM. That location is open every Thursday. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community is available here.
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM this evening. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.
CITY COUNCIL: The Palm Springs City Council meets at 5:30 PM. More information about the meeting, including an agenda and how to attend virtually or view it online, can be found here. The regular meeting is preceded by a closed session at 3:30 PM. That agenda is available here.
VILLAGEFEST: The city’s weekly outdoor street fair takes place at 7 PM on Palm Canyon Drive between Amado Road and Tahquitz Canyon. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers five programs, starting at 8 AM. Today’s complete schedule can be found here.
Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? The following links should help: