The latest plans for a College of the Desert campus, to be reviewed at a meeting this week, call for slightly more building space and the continued absence of a learning hotel pushed for by leaders in the hospitality industry.
A 42-page slideshow outlining the latest thinking will be reviewed at a Friday College of the Desert Board of Trustees meeting. In it, 152,000 gross square feet of building space is shown — an increase of about 10,000 square feet compared to previous plans.
The plans show that most of the classrooms and other student facilities will be in a two-story building located at the corner of South Farrell Drive and East Baristo Road. While parking and a campus services building is also shown in schematic drawings, roughly half of the 29 acres of land will remain undeveloped.
Voters began approving what was to become nearly $1 billion in bond money for the college to use on new campus construction in 2004. In Palm Springs, they were promised a sprawling campus on 118 acres in the north end of town, but those plans shifted to the former Palm Springs Mall site in 2014.
Among the promises at the time the bonds were approved were plans for a hotel and other hospitality industry training facilities. Those plans were eventually scaled back, drawing the ire of hospitality executives and other community leaders.
Since the mall was razed in 2019, there has been little to no activity on the parcel in the city’s center. Following a change in leadership at the college in 2021, accusations, heated public meetings, attack ads, and at least one lawsuit followed.
Through it all, COD officials have maintained they remain committed to building the Palm Springs campus. The next step in that process comes Friday at 9:30 a.m. during a meeting held at the college’s main campus in Palm Desert and broadcast online via YouTube.