Desert Fashion Plaza plans head to court

Greg Lee, KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2 Reporter, glee@kesq.com
POSTED: 05:12 PM PDT Jul 02, 2013 
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

Construction workers are almost ready to begin building where part of the old Desert Fashion Plaza used to stand in downtown Palm Springs.  Large piles of rubble and rock are nearly all that's left of the first demolition phase.  Now, Wessman Development hopes to move forward with plans to revitalize the area.  Wessman's senior vice president Michael Braun gave an update at the monthly Main Street Palm Springs meeting.  He told local merchants, in the next four weeks, crews will tear down the walls, followed by road construction for the rest of the year.  It comes as welcomes news for the new Palm Springs planning director Margo Wheeler.  "This isn't going to be a project isolated by itself," said Braun.  "It's going to be one where the streets extend into it, making it a natural addition to the downtown." 

Braun also took questions from downtown merchants concerned about the latest opposition to the project.  Three different groups have filed lawsuits against Wessman and the city in regards to the project.  Frank Tysen is part of the Citizens for a Sustainable Palm Springs.   Tysen and his group are suing because it believes the city did not follow the proper protocol when it came to a petition that was submitted.  The petition asked for the city to place a portion of the plan on a ballot for a special vote.  The city council opted not to, calling the action an administrative action, not legislative.  "The city cut all kinds of corners, violated all kinds of rules and laws," said Tysen.  "The process was not properly done, and we're challenging that."

Braun understands any ruling in the opposition's favor could delay the project, but he's not thinking about that right now.  "For now, we've moving full steam ahead and ignoring those lawsuit as they work themselves through the court," said Tysen.

The lawsuits cite several issues.  Tysen says there's one way to reach a clear resolution. "A totally new plan that continues the character of Palm Springs, that makes economic sense," said Tysen. 

A judge will hear Tysen's group's case next week.