Palm Desert Has 2 Major Mall Projects


Retail centers are blooming in Palm Desert. Developer Madison Marquette is building a $50-million shopping center on the desert region's "Rodeo Drive," and the Palm Desert Town Center will undergo a major renovation.

The 200,000-square-foot Gardens on El Paseo is being built on a 10.6-acre site, taking up a city block between Larkspur Lane and San Pablo Drive.

The Gardens, on the south side of El Paseo, will be an open-air complex of seven buildings in the middle of a mile-long strip of upscale stores.

So far, the center is about 75% leased, and it is projected to be 85% occupied by spring, said Paul Heiss of Madison Marquette in Beverly Hills.

Anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, the center will include such tenants as Brooks Brothers, Williams-Sonoma, Ann Taylor and Sullivan's Steakhouse.

Benetton will be planting its Accessories of Benetton Sportsystem Tricaffe, the first of its kind, in the Gardens center. The 9,377-square-foot space will have sections dedicated to accessories and name-brand sports gear. Plus, its Italian eatery plans to import desserts from Italy daily.

The center, about a quarter-mile from California Pizza Kitchen and other restaurants, will also be home to Sammy's California Woodfired Pizza.

Altoon & Porter designed the shopping center, which will have a covered bi-level parking lot.

The Gardens on El Paseo will have a ribbon-cutting on Oct. 15, with the grand opening scheduled for Nov. 7, in time for the tourist season and the city's Golf Cart Parade down El Paseo. Saks, however, will open Nov. 17.

Meanwhile, less than a mile away on California 111, the Palm Desert Town Center has plans for a major renovation, with net expansion of about 180,000 square feet. The mall interior will be renovated as well, said Phil Drell, Palm Desert's community development director.

Developer and owner Trizec-Hahn Development Corp. would not comment on the project because it is still in negotiations. But it considers the mall a "very high priority" in its portfolio, spokeswoman Janene Kraft said.

The mall, built in 1983, currently has 120 stores, including anchors Robinsons-May, J.C. Penney and Macy's. This will be the first major renovation of the 851,000-square-foot enclosed retail center since TrizecHahn bought it in the early 1990s from Ernie Hahn, who served on the company's board, Drell said.

Robinsons-May has two stores in the mall--the former May Co. at the west end and the former Robinson's at the south. The department store plans a consolidation and 55,000-square-foot expansion into what is now parking at the mall's west end, Drell said.

Sears, already in the Indio Fashion Mall, is expected to fill the void created by the consolidation, although there is some debate about where that new store would go. An existing tenant might want to occupy the mall's center slot.

Macy's and Penney's are slated to add 22,000 square feet and 50,000 square feet.

Developers plan to eliminate the mall's outdoor auditorium and use it for entertainment-oriented retail, including the food court and arcade.

Also on the entertainment front, Metropolitan Theatres Corp. will reconstruct its Cinema 10 to add as many as eight screens, or 2,200 seats. The split-level movie complex will be razed and rebuilt as a two-story theater with stadium seating, Drell said.

The city is funding the $10-million parking lot renovation, building a structure on top of the existing lot. The city expects to add about 960 spaces to the 4,900-space lot.

So far, only one store, BB1, plans to move from the Palm Desert Town Center into the El Paseo center, Heiss said, although the city said it has not yet been notified. The Gardens has an agreement with the city to prevent store pirating.

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