Desert Fashion Plaza moves forward, mall waits

Greg Lee, KESQ News Channel 3 Reporter & Sports Anchor, glee@kesq.com
POSTED: 04:50 PM PDT May 06, 2013    UPDATED: 07:59 PM PDT May 06, 2013 
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

People in Palm Springs continue to wait for a shopping center in their city. Construction crews continue to work around the clock to finish demolishing the vacant stores at the  Desert Fashion Plaza.  It's a major step in the Palm Springs Downtown Revitalization plan and it's almost done.  "They look at the back and they see the building coming down," said John Raymond, the director of community and economic development for the city of Palm Springs.  "And for the first time, in really forever, they realize that it's actually happening."

Raymond's excited for things to finally start moving forward after a long process.  "Just kind of finish a blighted part of downtown that's really been you know troublesome for all these years."

While the old Desert Fashion Plaza moves towards opening again, the Palm Springs mall remains quiet and nearly vacant.  YTC Investments from Rancho Cucamonga bought the property a year ago and one by one stores left the mall.   Outside, only an empty parking lot and a Kaplan College remain.  Inside, the only sounds come from a cleaning cart rattling down the empty walkway.  A long list of stores which once filled the store including the cornerstone of the mall Gottshcalks, now stand with the gates closed and notices of relocation.  "Very frustrating, because I saw some of the names outside and I thought maybe the nail place was still open," said Lisa Kaplan who lives in Desert Hot Springs. "It looks like it's open, and when is it going to open?"

Mall property and marketing manager Gale Stuart hopes the answer is 2014.  Similar to the only store left standing, GNC, the major remodel will focus on filling empty stores with a health and wellness theme.  She's confident the brand will attract shoppers.  "I'm thrilled, I think the plans are going to be huge for the city, it's going to be huge for the residents of Palm Springs," said Stuart.  "It will revitalize the shopping center, and once again bring a lot of people to shop here."

The mall must take several steps including gaining approval from the city before moving forward, but once complete, Stuart believes it will draw a different crowd then the Fashion Plaza.