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From the President

Last December, after a year of fruitless dialogue, the Palm Springs city council finally threatened the owner of the Desert Fashion Plaza (DFP) and the Town & Country Center with the prospect of eminent domain. In January and February of 2011 the city of Palm Springs hosted three visioning sessions to solicit public opinion regarding the DFP and the Town & Country Center. Many PSPF members and other concerned citizens attended the sessions and were outspoken in their support for the restoration of the Town & Country Center. As a result of this community process a “Preferred Concept Plan” was developed that offered innovative solutions to many of the shortcomings of the failed DFP superblock. The Preferred Concept Plan also spared the Town & Country Center. Despite this real progress, at the February 9th visioning session our mayor suddenly announced that the developer had agreed to “work with the city.”

Just a few weeks later, on March 2, 2011 the city council conducted a public hearing ostensibly to “review and discuss the results of the community input and visioning sessions with [the] property owner.” After the presentation of the Preferred Concept Plan, the developer was allowed to present a completely new “Wessman Development Desert Fashion Plaza Concept Plan.” While the latest Wessman plan breaks up the DFP superblock, it recycles the developer’s demand for the gratuitous demolition of the Town & Country Center in exchange for a new retail store frontage “road to nowhere.” Particularly disturbing was public comment by a senior Palm Springs Art Museum official characterizing the proposal as a “terrific plan” and implicitly endorsing the demolition of the Town & Country Center.

On March 20, 2011 PSPF’s board met with the board of the Palm Springs Modern Committee to discuss various advocacy strategies. As a result, throughout the coming spring and summer we will ratchet up the Town & Country Center advocacy on a number of fronts. Our goal is to convince the city leadership, the museum leadership and the developer, that the short-sighted destruction of a valuable historic asset not only runs directly counter to the goals of sustainability, but it negatively impacts our burgeoning cultural tourism industry and ultimately is not in the best interests of our great city.

Ron Marshall

President

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