The City of La Quinta's long-delayed TALUS luxury resort development remains in limbo as money troubles continue to plague the Robert Green Company project.
Formerly known as SilverRock, TALUS missed the city’s latest 60-day mid-July deadline to secure its financing and present a plan to move forward with construction. Without a financing breakthrough, the project could be headed toward litigation. It's a topic local residents say city leaders have mentioned to them.
Nobody from the city has officially said TALUS is headed to court. The city’s official statement to News Channel 3's Jeff Stahl is there is no update. But Jeff Stahl spoke to residents who met with the City Manager Jon McMillen and City Council member John Pena this month. Both men say their many questions about the luxury development were left unanswered because McMillen and Pena both cited concerns of possible litigation. McMillen did not deny that in an email statement to Jeff Stahl.
Construction on its core elements has been halted for over a year. In that time, there hasn't been any reportable progress in obtaining the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for the project's construction.
A La Quinta Resident and former mayoral candidate Robert Sylk and fellow resident Richard Gray say their recent meeting with the City Manager and Council member Pena was "non-informative."
Sylk said, said, “It's time to end it and start over. We can't keep continuing down the bad track. A bad road.”
"Because of the possibility of litigation, they couldn't tell us if the project was late," Gray said, "if there was a default letter going out again.”
”But we already could see what was happening," said Sylk. "Nothing was happening. What bothers me is that Mr. Green, who we met and is a very nice guy, and we like him, doesn't have the funds to proceed and never did.”
TALUS, under the most recently modified development agreement between the Green and the city, was supposed to open this fall. It's promoted as a crowned jewel development for the City of La Quinta, the Gem of the Desert. The two branded luxury hotels by the Pendry and Montage, a spa and conference center, and 84 turn-key single-family homes and condominiums are supposed to be a crowned jewel development for the city.
It was originally set to open four years ago in 2019, promoted as the Coachella Valley’s first five-star development, but has faced repeated financing delays that have led to repeated construction stoppages.
"and the main point that I'm making all the time, and they were making, is that the citizens should be given the information about what's going on."Richard Gray, La Quinta resident
"I've spoken at five of the past seven city council meetings," Gray said adding, "and the main point that I'm making all the time, and they were making, is that the citizens should be given the information about what's going on."
In May, Robert Green told News Channel 3 in a statement, “TALUS has successfully navigated the complex financial landscape to secure the essential funding needed to bring the project to completion.” It was a similar message from his prior update last winter.
In an email exchange, McMillen told Jeff Stahl, "The City Attorney and I have been working closely with (the) developer and their lenders as loan documents, a contract amendment, and due diligence near finalization. At this time the Senior lender is working with the S&P on the bond ratings required to close the financing. This is the critical path for full mobilization and getting the project completed."
It was three months ago in May when McMillen said, "The City fully expects Green to have closed the funding for the commercial components of the project within 60 days."
A representative for the Robert Green Company said, “We have been asked to direct any TALUS update inquiries to the La Quinta City manager.”
Not so, says McMillen, who wrote, “We are not speaking for the Robert Green Company.”
At the quiet construction site, the TALUS spa and conference center remain frozen in mid-construction. Some post-storm dust abatement was happening last week and a hammer or two could be heard at some wood-framed homes, which are a portion of the project. The homes are being financed through EB5 federal foreign direct investment financing where immigrants can pay money in exchange for helping regional economic development programs that create American jobs. In this case, the payments are for approximately $800,000 per visa approved.
The project's unfinished wood frames have been weathering under the heat of a blistering summer sun for at least 15 months since early last summer in 2022 and exposed to our historic winter rainfall and Tropical Storm Hilary. Past city council updates from the developer briefly detailed how inspections would be required to assess damage to the property and materials that would have to be rebuilt.
"How many times that somebody has to kick you before you realize what's wrong,” asked Sylk.
La Quinta's weekly e-newsletter mentions a lot of happenings and events but has been silent on the TALUS development for months now. City leaders are set to host La Quinta’s State of the City address on Thursday, Sept. 28. Sylk and Gray hope they’ll share some transparency on Talus– good or bad.
If the mayor and other city leaders address TALUS at the State of the City address, you’ll have to pay up to hear their comments at the Embassy Suites La Quinta Hotel & Spa. Tickets are $110 dollars for the public and $99 dollars for chamber members.
Both McMillen and Green are also listed as featured speakers at an October 25 free public forum hosted by The Concerned Citizens of La Quinta at the La Quinta Resort. People interested in attending are asked to RSVP.
Monday evening statement from the City of La Quinta:
The City of La Quinta and Montage International remain committed to the TALUS project and continue to stand by the project as developer Robert Green secures the financing needed to get the project completed. City Manager, Jon McMillen, and Montage International’s President and COO, Jason Herthel, said in a joint statement.
“Throughout the process, myself and City Attorney, Bill Ihrke, have been working closely with Green and his lenders as loan documents, a contract amendment with the City and due diligence near finalization,” McMillen said.
At this time, the Senior lender is working with Standard and Poor’s (S&P) on the bond ratings required to close the financing. “This is the critical path for full mobilization and getting the project completed,” McMillen said. City council members have also met individually with lenders and stand confidently behind the TALUS project and Green. “Securing and closing financing for a hospitality project of this type and magnitude is extremely complex and difficult. It is a statement to the quality of this project that financing is nearly closed,” McMillen said.
Stay with KESQ News Channel 3 for the latest TALUS updates.