Dream Hotel decision delayed as some on City Council share neighbors’ concerns over heights

Designs for a building on the northeast corner of the development were “a stretch too far” according to one councilmember.
The development site of The Dream Hotel project near the Palm Springs Convention Center is seen here. At top right is the Center Court condominiums.

Residents of a Palm Springs condominium complex scored a major win Thursday evening, helping to temporarily delay a proposed development in their neighborhood they say contains a building that would “suffocate” their homes. The developer now must decide whether to return next month with modified plans.

The Dream Hotel project, originally proposed as a 200-room hotel and 143 residences near the city’s convention center, has undergone multiple revisions since it was first proposed in 2007. Some work has been completed at the site, but the pandemic and an ensuing legal battle with a contractor forced that work to come to a halt.

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The latest iteration would see 156 hotel rooms and 65 condominiums constructed. It has been making its way through City Hall since last year and currently needs some permit work to move forward.

However, new designs for a building on the northeast corner of the development, which would allow room for additional residences needed to help finance the hotel, were “a stretch too far,” according to Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton and at least one of her colleagues.

Faced with whether to approve the project in its current form, the Council elected instead to reopen a public hearing on the matter and continue it until June 5.

“We’ve waited so long,” said Councilmember Ron deHarte during deliberation. “If we need to wait another six months for a new design, I think it’s worth waiting six months.”

That opinion was likely music to the ears of Center Court Condominium residents. A half-dozen of them spoke Thursday evening, orchestrating their two minutes of individual allotted time into a thorough, cohesive 20-minute presentation.

During their remarks, the residents emphasized that they support the project but oppose a 46-foot-high tower of condominiums on the northeast corner of the property, which they said would “suffocate” some units in their development.

“It’s just too darn high,” proclaimed Thomas Boudrot, who last September remarked that, “This will be like a Volkswagen Beetle parked next to a Norwegian Cruise Liner” prior to the city’s Planning Commission voting 3-2 to send the project for final approval to the City Council.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Bernstein was sympathetic to the neighbors’ cause, but also concerned about any further delays.

“I feel terrible for people in Center Court, but I also feel terrible for everyone in the neighborhood,” Bernstein said. “It does seem that we may actually see a hotel and condominium development built. That is probably the universal thing that everybody wants.

“My concern is that if we go back to the drawing board, it will be years away again for getting to the next step. And we all agree that we need to get to this next step.”

The project’s developers must now decide whether to try again to appease city officials and Center Court residents as they attempt to find more space to build enough condominiums to help keep the hotel project viable.

An agreement on the table Thursday evening, hammered out with the city during the past year, would have required them to kick-start work at the site almost immediately and finish no later than December 2026. That timeline might be in jeopardy, according to Lauri Kibby, who has been helping guide the project to completion.

“It takes months to redesign a project,” said Kibby. “There’s a lot that has to happen. It’s not just taking off a corner of a building, unfortunately.”

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