Investigative

Wessman's many development ties to Coachella Valley

Owns properties from Indio to Desert Hot Springs

I-Team investigates Wessman's many d....

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - John Wessman is one of the Coachella Valley's biggest developers.

His name is listed on nearly 30 limited liability companies and incorporated businesses.

The first of those businesses were registered in the 1970's and 1980's, including Coachella Valley Developers, Inc. in 1977, Wessway, Inc. in 1984, and Coachella Valley Equipment Rentals, Inc. in 1984.

He registered another series of new businesses in the early 2000's including Plaza Mercado, now home to Chico's and other stores. Wessman also created Plaza Las Flores which has hosted a number of restaurants at the southwest corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Indian Canyon Drive and Palm Springs Prominade LLC which is now the Desert Fashion Plaza redevelopment project.

There have been so many more companies and incorporations, all corresponding to developments such as the Baristo Group, RM da Vall, Zaphiro Group, Ramon Santoro Group, Crescendo, Ps Kids and Crossley Partners.

Some of his developments haven't happened. The Pedrigal was a proposed 132 unit condominium complex off North Palm Canyon at Tramview Road. The land has been graded, but that's all.

The Dakota Project is currently being built. It includes 39 single-family homes on six acres squeezed against the mountainside off Belardo Road, just south of downtown Palm Springs.

In Indio, the City Manager's office said to News Channel 3 it's public works staff stated there is nothing pending or currently in construction connected to John Wessman or Richard Meaney.

The City of La Quinta said the Orchard neighborhood, built for Goldenvoice, has already been completed.

In Palm Desert, Wessman is an owner of "il Corso" Italian dining, across from the Gardens on El Paseo shopping center.

The city says it has no other pending Wessman or Meaney projects.

In Rancho Mirage, Wessman was listed as owning property where the former Chart House and Gigi's Island burned down in January of 2012.

In Cathedral city, Wessman owns a number of properties, according to the city. One is along East Palm Canyon at Canyon Plaza Drive where the Barracks, a BMX track, and other businesses are located behind the Arco gas station. Another is the Canyon Plaza North and Canyon Plaza North II shopping center, home to a Target and Trader Joe's. Wessman also owns 6.7 acres of vacant land just east of the Mary Pickford Theatre. The city says there are no current development plans there.

In Desert Hot Springs, Wessman owns a shopping center complex at 14027 Palm Drive.

Most of his development efforts have surrounded Palm Springs and it's growing downtown corridor. Several of those projects connected Wessman with Meaney, his former Nexis, LLC partner.

Some of those developments and connections to the former mayor Steve Pougnet were part of the criminal complaint the district attorney's office used to charge Wessman with 10 counts of bribery and conspiracy.

Wessman resigned from his company when the DAs office filed charges against him, Meaney and Pougnet.

Wessman Development is now in the hands of his son-in-law, Michael Braun, who says he doesn't expect any delays in any of his current construction projects including downtown, due to the criminal charges against his boss.

Click here for a complete timeline of the Scandal at City Hall


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