Developers of what could be the first large warehouse of its type inside Palm Springs predicted the building would have minimal impact on the city during a Planning Commission review of the project Wednesday evening. The commissioners present liked what they were shown.
Up for review during an hour-long study session was a proposed 740,000-square-foot warehouse built on a 38-acre property north of Interstate 10 at the northwest corner of North Indian Canyon Drive and 19th Avenue.
Although common elsewhere in the Inland Empire, the warehouse up for discussion Wednesday would be the first large warehouse built within the city limits and one of the first in the entire Coachella Valley when and if it opens.
David Snider, manager of Snider Interests, LLC, acknowledged that a warehouse of this size is uncharted territory for the Coachella Valley but noted others are being approved and constructed.
“Historically, these buildings have been built west of us in the Inland Empire,” he said. “They are slowly moving out this way, with the Amazon building being built in Desert Hot Springs.”
While no specific action was taken, commissioners did discuss the plans with the development team, showing their support.
“We’ve seen a few of these buildings come through,” Commissioner J.R. Roberts said. “This is the first one that’s nice looking.”
As designed, the main warehouse building would be about 50 feet tall and the length of more than three football fields on its longest side. Outside would be 419 parking spaces for cars and 306 stalls for trucks and trailers, and 110 loading docks.
Roberts and other commissioners said it was important that the design of the building was consistent with other styles in Palm Springs, especially because this warehouse would be the first of its kind in the city.
That was also important to the developers, noted Eric Namisniak, an architect with the firm Ware Malcomb, who said the horizontal design spoke to a “midcentury modern design aesthetic.”
To support warehouses and fulfillment centers inside city limits, the Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously in January 2022 to change zoning regulations, allowing the construction of buildings up to 95 feet high on land north of Interstate 10.
At the time, the move was described as a potential “game-changer for the city’s finances,” as tens of millions of dollars in additional tax revenue could flow into the city if buildings like this are used as fulfillment centers.
The changes were made despite councilmembers acknowledging that Amazon, a company that uses warehouses and fulfillment centers of this size, often has higher-than-average injury rates for employees and has been accused of underpaying its employees.
Planning Commission Chair Kathy Weremiuk reminded commissioners that they helped set the new standards, saying, “It was a major debate in the city, but now it’s a settled issue.”
“This is what we hoped we would get when we were looking at this a year and a half ago,” Weremiuk concluded.
Snider said because the warehouse and any future industrial developments of the same size are north of the freeway, “They should really have minimal impact on the city itself.” He also assured the commission that the surrounding roads, including Indian Canyon, could handle the increased traffic.
Namisniak mentioned that the warehouse areas in buildings like the one being proposed are “not necessarily air-conditioned.”
When Commissioner Carl Baker asked for clarification, Snider said, “The space in the warehouse is conditioned based on the amount of employees that are in there and what activity takes place there.”
He further explained that there would be more air conditioning if the building were to become a fulfillment center instead of a warehouse storage facility.
But, he said, that even with a limited number of employees, the temperature would not exceed 75 or 80 degrees.
Next up for the project, the development team told the commissioners, is the completion of an environmental impact report. For that, they are working with the city’s California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) consultant.
“We hope to have the EIR ready for public circulation by late October,” said Nicole Vann with MSA Consulting.