‘No good deed goes unpunished:’ Property buyer says he intended to help homeless, not play politics
Sticker shock and questions about the players involved in the city’s expected purchase of a north end property are the reality of the current real estate market playing out in public and not “payback” for a local businessman’s political support, according to public records and those interviewed Tuesday by The Post.
The Palm Springs City Council voted to pursue the property, located at 3589 McCarthy Rd., for use as a campus for homeless services, following heated public discussion on November 5. It was one of two locations under consideration for the project and contains three buildings with 47,000 square feet of usable space.
The current owner, McCarthy Road Productions (MRP) of Goleta, purchased the property from DST Industries, Inc. of Michigan in January 2020 for $3.5 million. MRP put the building up for sale in August 2020 for $6.25 million and settled on a selling price of $5.9 million in July 2021.
The buyer, Wintec Energy President and CEO Fred Noble, then made an unexpected offer for the city to assume the purchase while the deal is still in escrow. Walking away from the deal may end up costing him money, he said by phone Tuesday, but it’s a small price to pay if the property somehow aids those experiencing homelessness.
“There’s a certain sense that talk is cheap, and if you can do something to help your fellow man you should,” Noble said, crediting friend and local architect James Cioffi for helping him see the property’s ultimate value. “I was going to buy it for my own purposes, and I drove a really good bargain on the price.
“But Jim made mention of it being a good place for what they wanted to do, so it was offered to the city. I thought if this is what they want, and they can use it, why not.”
Noble’s involvement in the deal led to speculation from some that he would somehow profit, and accusations that if he were to profit it would be in return for contributions he has made to multiple local politicians and political organizations.
Forms on file with the city show Noble made more than $61,000 in combined contributions in cash and services to current City Council members during their most recent campaigns. A large portion of those contributions went to Councilmember Geoff Kors ($14,500) and Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton ($19,000) during two different election cycles. Aside from cash, records show Noble also provided catering services and polling data.
“Might this be payback time for Kors, Middleton, etc.?” wrote one resident in an email to The Post. Added another: “I imagine I am not the only person raising questions around this.”
Noble said he would welcome a chance to confront anyone who thinks he stands to profit from walking away from the purchase.
“This is precisely at my cost and there is no profit in this whatsoever,” he said, adding, “I guess no good deed goes unpunished.”
The rapid escalation in the property’s value also caught many off guard, but it appears to be in line with the current state of Palm Springs real estate across several sectors. For example: The other property considered for the homeless services center, located at 4775 E. Ramon Road, was sold in 2017 for $1.8 million, and is now listed for $6.5 million.
Fritz Boudreaux, executive vice president at The Firm Commercial in Palm Springs, specializes in helping clients buy and sell commercial and industrial properties in the Coachella Valley. He said the fact the McCarthy Road site increased millions in value in less than two years is no surprise given its location.
“On a micro level, if you look at the industrial real estate market in the Coachella Valley, particularly in northern Palm Springs and all of Cathedral City, cannabis coming in and being legal has raised the price of all industrial property,” he said Tuesday. “If you are a traditional business like an auto body shop, or a glass shop, and you look at pricing, the prices are just out of reach.”
NEW CHIEF, DESERT HIGHLAND NEIGHBORS MEET: It was only his second day on the job, but Police Chief Andrew Mills may have already had one of the tougher meetings of his entire Palm Springs career. Mills, speaking during a Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association meeting Tuesday evening, repeated many of the messages neighbors had heard from police before. Like many in law enforcement who have visited the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, he urged residents to work with officers to help curb crime and violence that has plagued the neighborhood for decades. Still, he offered at least a glimmer of hope that methods yet to be implemented could help. READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE.
LIBRARY AUCTION: The Friends of the Palm Springs Library, established in 1971, will be hosting an online auction to celebrate 50 years of support for the Library starting today at 9 AM. Back by popular demand, the Friends bring you the auction from today at 9 AM until Sunday at 6 PM. The auction will be held online at this site. Auction items include rare books, bundled books by genre, beautiful art pieces, a few vintage items, and of course themed gift baskets. All monetary donations are used to support the Library’s important programs and services such as the Summer Reading Program, Teen Programs, Book Clubs, maintenance of the koi pond, purchase of new books, DVDs, ebooks, audiobooks, and more. Winning bidders can collect their items at the Palm Springs Library beginning Monday, November 15.The Auction Administrator will contact the winners by email to schedule a convenient pick-up date and time.
GUILTY PLEA IN FATAL CRASH: A felon pleaded guilty Tuesday to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter for driving drunk and causing a crash that killed his passenger in Palm Springs. Joshua Lamar Woods, 30, of Desert Hot Springs, was arrested April 19 shortly after the vehicle he was driving struck a steel pole on Indian Canyon Drive near Garnet Avenue, according to the Palm Springs Police Department. His passenger, 30-year-old Laprea Hardister of Desert Hot Springs, was pronounced dead at the scene. Woods initially faced charges of DUI gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI causing bodily injury and DUI with a blood-alcohol content exceeding the legal limit of .08% causing bodily injury. During a preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center on Tuesday, Woods admitted to the felony count of DUI gross vehicular manslaughter as part of a plea deal with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office to have the other charges dropped. He was sentenced by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky to eight years in state prison on the admitted charge.
VACCINES AT SCHOOL DISTRICT: A vaccine clinic planned for today at Palm Springs Unified School District headquarters in Palm Springs has expanded to now include COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 through 11, as well as COVID booster shots. This is in addition to COVID-19 first, second and boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) and flu vaccines already planned. The flu vaccines will be available from 11 AM until 6 PM, and Desert Oasis Healthcare will administer child doses of Pfizer vaccine (ages 5 to 11) and adult Johnson & Johnson boosters from 2 PM until 6 PM. No appointments are necessary.
WATER MEETING: The Desert Water Agency Executive Committee meets online at 8 AM. The complete agenda can be found here.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center offers fitness classes, a bereavement support group, Dick Brodie’s Jam Session, and more today, starting at 8 AM. The center is located at 480 S. Sunrise Way. A complete list of everything offered today can be found here.
LIBRARY AUCTION: The Friends of the Palm Springs Public Library annual online auction officially kicks off at 9 AM. This year’s event is in honor of the organization’s 50th Anniversary. More information about the auction, which ends on Sunday the 14th, is available here.
MOBILE HEALTH: A mobile health clinic will be parked at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 9 AM until 4 PM. Operated and staffed by Borrego Health, the mobile unit will provide a variety of medical services for residents.
HORA DE CUENTOS: La bibliotecaria Nancy Valdivia lee cuentos, canta canciones y enseña conceptos de aprendizaje temprano (miércoles en español y jueves en inglés) para estudiantes de preescolar de 10:30 AM a 11:30 AM Puedes ver los videos en YouTube aquí.
ONGOING & UPCOMING
FRIDAY FUNDRAISER: Hanson House is holding a fundraiser immediately following the Palm Springs Walk of Stars latest dedication ceremony Friday. Dr. Frank Ercoli is being honored with a star at 3 PM at 120 North Palm Canyon Way. Following the dedication there will be a wine and appetizers reception at Hanson House, 380 E. Paseo el Mirador. The event is designed to raise funds for Hanson House, which is described as a home away from home for the loved ones of critically ill and injured hospitalized patients. The public is invited to either attend or donate tickets to the event, and can do so by visiting this website.
DOG PARK CLOSURE: The Palm Springs Dog Park behind City Hall will close for annual maintenance this week. The park, located at 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, will close starting Thursday for seeding and maintenance and is anticipated to reopen on December 20. The Demuth Dog Park, located at 4200 E. Mesquite Ave., will be open seven days a week from dawn until dusk.
UPCOMING RUNS: Registration for both The 10th Annual Run for Ike 5K and the annual Wild Turkey Trot 5K is open now at runpalmsprings.com, as well as active.com and racewire.com. The Run for Ike 5K happens Saturday, November 13 at 8 AM and is held in memory of Palm Springs Police Department K9 officer Ike, who was killed in the line of duty in 2011. The event starts at the Police Department, 200 South Civic Drive. The annual Turkey Trot is Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25, at 8 AM, and offers entrants a chance to get in some exercise before Thanksgiving dinner. That event starts at 100 North Palm Canyon Drive. Registrants for the events receive T-shirts, medals, and more. Both runs benefit local charities. Questions? Feel free to contact Molly Thorpe, the race director, at email@example.com or 760-413-6508
WELLNESS SUMMIT: Brothers of the Desert is conducting its third annual wellness summit focusing on Black gay men and their allies in the Coachella Valley and beyond in-person (and virtually) on Saturday, November 13, at Margaritaville Resort in Palm Springs, 1600 North Indian Canyon Drive. The one-day event runs from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. Registration for the event is available here.
TALK OF THE TOWN: The next installment of the popular Talk of the Town series, presented by ONE-PS, is coming up on Tuesday, November 16. ONE-PS invites the community to join Julie Warren and David Gray, co-founders of The LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert, as they speak about the rich and deep fabric of our shared LGBTQ+ history. Also joining during the discussion will be Palm Springs Pride President & CEO Ron De Harte, who will share news about the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Wall Of Honor and monument. More information is available at the Facebook event page here.
SPEAKER SERIES: The next event in the 3rd Wednesday Speakers Series is November 17 at 5:30 PM at Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way. A screening of L.A. A Queer History – Where It All Began, a film by Gregorio Davila, will precede a talk with the filmmaker moderated by Brian Blueskye, The Desert Sun’s arts and culture reporter. The screening is afree event. More information is available here.
DESERT JAM: The annual benefit for Palm Springs-based Well in the Desert — Desert Jam 2021: Jammin’ for the Well — is slated for Monday, December 6 at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino ballroom in Rancho Mirage at 6 PM. The Jackson-Garrett Band and a host of other musicians are slated to perform, with Jeanie Cunningham serving as master of ceremonies. All proceeds benefit The Well’s work to feed and provide for those experiencing homelessness in our community. More information, including how to purchase tickets for the event can be found here or by calling 760-285-7297.
POLICE AND FIRE EVENT: The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce is taking reservations for its annual Police & Fire Appreciation Luncheon, held Tuesday, December 7, from 11:30 AM until 1 PM at the Palm Springs Convention Center. More information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities is available here.
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