Retail project in north end could add to area’s recent development boom

A retail project being explored in the city’s north end will not have space for a grocery store, neighbors were told this week, but may contain a bank and healthcare office. The community has been pushing for all of those additions for decades.

The project is being proposed by the Singh family, which has owned and operated an ARCO gas station in the 3600 block of North Indian Canyon Drive for the past 15 years. It would be located across the road from the gas station on a parcel bordered by Rosa Parks Road and Corozon Avenue.

Representatives of companies working with the family on the project told members of the Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association Tuesday the Singhs hope to build a car wash on the property, along with buildings that would contain a restaurant or coffee shop, a bank, and other retail businesses, possibly including an urgent care facility.

“This is designed to be a neighborhood center,” said Peter Buffa, one of the family’s representatives. “We may not be able to meet all your desires for uses, but we can meet some of them.”

Members of the Desert Highlands Gateway Estates neighborhood have been making their desires known for years without success. The isolated area of the city continues to be a “food desert,” lacking a grocery store and other amenities common in most other parts of Palm Springs.

A project that includes a bank and possible healthcare facility is welcome, some said Tuesday. A restaurant offering fast food, or any retail cannabis businesses, would not be welcomed.

“We’re trying to be a healthier community,” said Deiter Crawford, vice president of the Community Action Association. “We just want to see healthy food items. The restaurants, the fast food, they’re not really appealing.”

The project is currently in the design stages, its backers said, leaving plenty of time for discussion with the community about which businesses other than the car wash could occupy the space prior to formal permit applications.

“We want it to be something you’d be proud of,” said a representative of TR Design Group, the Riverside firm designing the project. “We consider your input valuable to this process.”

If an when ground is broken for the project it would join several others either underway or being discussed in that part of the city. A Tower Market is currently being built at the intersection of West San Rafael and North Indian Canyon drives. Across the street from that construction site, ground was broken in October on a 60-unit affordable housing project.

Further down West San Rafael, developers are planning a condominium project with two dozen units. Along Rosa Parks Road, a housing project that has sat abandoned for more than a decade has been renamed Alure and could see 26 homes built.

The most significant project being floated in the area is a proposal from Watermarke Homes to build an 850-unit housing project on land surrounding the Desert Highlands neighborhood that was given to College of the Desert (COD) by the city a decade ago with the express purpose of building a satellite campus.

The 119-acre site is currently caught in limbo, however, as the city, the college, and the developer wrestle with whether the land will be rezoned for housing, a necessity for completing sale to Watermarke. COD abandoned plans for the college at the site, choosing instead to eye 29 acres in the center of Palm Springs. Those plans were stalled by new college administration earlier this year.

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