Palm Springs Mayor prepared for State of City

Mayor to deliver speech at Palm Springs Art Museum

Future of Downtown State of the City Preview

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The downtown redevelopment project will be a major focus of Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon's State of the City address Tuesday evening.

The mayor is already planning a celebration for when the project opens for business in November.  "We're going to have a huge block party down here," he said.

The mayor can't hide his excitement.

The new Kimpton hotel, The Rowan, is almost ready along with a number of shops and restaurants.

The project also includes a new street, connecting the Palm Springs Art Museum with North Palm Canyon Drive via Museum Way.

That's why Moon's delivering this year's State of the City at the museum, calling it the "jewel of the downtown."

There are 1,300 parking spaces that were part of the old Palm Springs Fashion Mall, which was torn down to make way for the new project.

Eventually, it'll also include a public park, for which  the city's budgeted $8.3 million.  

There may be a sense of relief that this phase of the project is close to completion.

The development ended up being at the center of the scandal at city hall that included a law enforcement raid in 2015 looking for evidence of corruption.

This year, former Mayor Steve Pougnet and the former developer of the downtown project, John Wessman were charged with bribery with authorities saying Wessman paid Pougnet at least $375,000 through businessman Richard Meaney.
Moon and the current council decided to stay the course, with Wessman's son-in-law Micheal Braun taking over the project.

"That really is not a city issue right now, that's in the courts," Moon said.    
The state of the city will also include updates on other projects that aren't coming to fruition, like the stalled Hyatt Andaz hotel at N. Palm Canyon and Alejo.

"People are really concerned about having that eyesore at the entrance of Palm Springs," Moon said.

Some have argued the new hotels are too much too soon.

The Mayor acknowledges the city will see a number of challenges in the coming year.

Voters will decide on a half-cent sale tax in November to help pay for public safety and rising pension costs that will double to $26 million a year in the next six years.

The mayor also says that not all parts of the city have benefited from the renaissance the mayor likes to talk about.

That includes a stretch of East Palm Canyon on the south end of town, where a number of restaurants have closed.

There will be politics in the year ahead, as well, with two council members, Ginny Foat and Chris Mills, deciding not to run for re-election.

Moon says he'll miss them both and he won't endorse any of the candidates running to replace them.

Overall, the mayor remains excited saying this about the state of the city: "This is going to be a blast."

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