West Elm, a modern-furniture store, will be the first retail tenant in the new Downtown Palm Springs Project.
The announcement comes nearly 14 years after Saks 5th Avenue closed, dooming the old Desert Fashion Plaza.
Mayor Steve Pougnet delivered the news in his State of the City Address Thursday.
It’s an announcement that commits a modern store to the town that hosts Modernism Week thanks to having some of the top architecture of the modernism era.
“This is the type of tenant that I have been anxious to hear. We need that kind of draw in our downtown,” said Palm Springs resident Matt Robinson.
The Downtown Palm Springs Project will include hotels, restaurants, office space, and several retail stores, but the first and most likely anchor will be West Elm.
“West Elm, which is a hip modern brand, I know a lot of people are going to have to go home and probably look it up, but that’s OK,” said Pougnet.
“It’s a furniture store, modern contemporary furniture that fits our market wonderfully,” said Robinson.
It’s a fit that Pougnet says the city has been looking for.
“When you think of an anchor store, you still think of a Saks or a Nordstrom’s. Those huge stores are not coming to this project, nor do we really want those huge stores. You want, an anchor now (that) is a 10,000-12,000 square foot store, so we are excited,” said Pougnet. “That is going to be pretty much the largest store in the whole development.”
“Some of the stuff, it just doesn’t fit. I think this is one of the best fits I have ever seen,” said Palm Springs resident Lonny Whittington.
“I think it’s rather weak and there is better things that Wessman can pull into the mall, like national retailers, an Apple store, a Macy’s. Something grand, grand as Palm Springs is not a furniture store,” said resident John Tymon.
Palm Springs will be the smallest city West Elm, part of the William-Sonoma brand, will call home. The hope is that more retailers will follow suit.
“I think this is setting the tone that we have great businesses coming in to Palm Springs and they are all going to add their own flair to our city,” said Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce CEO Nona Watson.
“This is a very easy project to sell. People want to be in Palm Springs right now,” said Pougnet.
West Elm will go into the A-block next to the Hyatt. The Kimpton Hotel, set to go in the C-block where the Marilyn statue once stood, is already set to move into the next phase of construction in March. It and the retail space around it are expected to be open by October of 2016, with West Elm following close behind.
“We are now to the point where people are going to see real activity downtown in addition to all of the other great stuff that is happening,” said Pougnet.