Palm Desert economy booming

PALM DESERT, Calif. - The City of Palm Desert reached a milestone after the recent recession, all of the vacant big box stores are vacant no more.

Shopping in Palm Desert, it's hard to imagine just a few years ago, many of the store front we see now sat empty.  National stores like Circuit City, and Mervyns, closed all over the country, but now brand new stores are moving in just in time to help the local economy.  

"A few years ago, when the recession hit so hard here just like it did all across the country, we saw a lot of our big boxes close," said Palm Desert economic development manager Ruth Ann Moore.

Store front after store front stood empty, a sign of the times, but now that sign has changed and for Palm Desert that change is dramatic. 

"It really is exciting in the City of Palm Desert right now because, we had quite a few vacancies now every single big box and I would define that as anything over 50,000 square foot is now leased, it's in play," said Moore.

Moore said she knew recovering would take time, but was surprised it happened as fast as it did. "To be honest I didn't think that this would happen as quickly as it did," said Moore.

Moore said first existing stores moved into bigger and better locations. 

"We started to se that with Desert Crossing, that was one of the first that started to take off again.  The Circuit City was refilled by Ulta moving in and Best Buy moving in from across the street," said Moore.

Then Total Wines and More moved in.  Not only is it new to this shopping center, but it's also new to the desert.  

Not all of the stores are open yet, some are still under construction, like Whole Foods, Homegoods and Nordstorm Rack.

"I think it's great, I am most excited about whole foods coming and I hear it's supposed to open in January so I am super stoked," said   La Quinta resident Jennifer Queiroz.

"Toys R Us which left and went to Indio is now under construction with the Walmart Neighborhood Market, it will be the first one in the Coachella Valley," said Moore.

The old Mervyns on Highway 111 and Fred Warning will soon be a PGA Tour Superstore.

"I think it's good for the economy, it's good for Palm Desert and the surrounding areas to see something is moving forward," said Palm Desert resident Shirley Kaplan.

"Westfield of course had it's two vacancies, both of those are now under construction with Dick's Sporting Goods coming and World's Gym is going to be moving over into the back Macy's," said Moore.

Not only will these stores help bring in revenue to the city, but they will add jobs. 

"I think it's great, it's welcome business, we need it, like I said before there were less jobs there before and more jobs now and there is more people coming to the desert to visit.  It definitely helps the economy, we need it, it's great," said Indio resident Moncia Salas.

"We've seen a big renovation and renaissance you might say to what is happening here in Palm Desert," said Moore.

Once these stores open, Moore said the added foot traffic will help smaller stores in the area.

"Every time that you can build large department stores or larger stores in it builds synergy and allows a lot of people to come to an area and allows the other smaller stores to thrive too," said Moore. 

"I think it's good, I think it's good for us as consumers, I think it's good for the business, I think it's good for the economy," said Queiroz.

Now with every empty space spoken for, any new big box store will have to build in brand new area, something that Moore says will happen as more new homes are build.

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