The president of College of the Desert made a significant announcement Tuesday afternoon; he said they will begin construction of the new Palm Springs campus.
The Palm Springs Mall is a current eye-sore, but it will be the new site of a state of the art campus for film and other programs that focus on the talents of the Coachella Valley.
The president of College of the Desert President, Dr. Joel Kinnamon shared the news to a crowd that included Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon and City Council Members Lisa Middleton and J.R. Roberts, he said, “Now College of the Desert Owns this site.”
Kinnamon joked that they had the idea to purchase the property a few days back, when in reality it has been years of back and forth with the former owner who was reluctant to sell.
He said, “I think everyone in this community knows that we’ve been on this journey together to come to this point in time.”
A journey that ended once College of the Desert purchased the 29-acre property for $22 million.
Mayor Moon said the city will support the college through the construction phases, he said, “We will be working with them of course to make sure that this is successful and that it happens quickly and that it benefits the students, the community, everyone involved.”
The Palm Springs Mall building is the current home for Brightwood College, a technical school with programs related to the medical field, but C.O.D. officials said they are working with the school to find a new location. But the rest of the mall property sits empty with broken boarded windows.
Kinnamon said the new campus will focus on programs that can add value to the Coachella Valley, he said, “We’re going to be looking at a culinary and hospitality, film, digital design, sustainability,”
Carlos Martinez is a current music and technology student at the college, and he said a new facility with updated equipment will benefit him in his future career as a musician.
Martinez said, “I would like a new studio out there because there have been talks about it for years, but it hasn’t been done yet, and the one out here it is nice but it is small and cramped.”
And a new location in Palm Springs will be more convenient for students like Karen Puente who commutes from Cathedral City to Palm Desert.
“I take the bus here,” Puente said. “So it takes like an hour, which is fine I still get here early, but it just takes time and I would like it to be less, maybe like 20 minutes.”
The new owners are all for less time, they said they will be aggressive with the construction time-line, Kinnamon left the podium with this, “I know like you, I really can’t wait to get started.”
They estimate a construction budget of $240 million, with a plan to begin phase one of the project next fall, and complete the entire new campus by the spring 2023.