The City of Palm Springs and the Board of Trustees of the College of the Desert have announced plans to move the new West Valley Campus from its current location to a new site in the heart of the city at the Palm Springs Mall.
The City asked the College to reconsider the idea of using the mall location after Southern California Edison pulled the plug on a solar park planned for half of the 119-acre campus site proposed off of Tramview Road.
From the start, the College envisioned the 119-acre site and campus as a self- sustaining campus that would be a development. A critical element in the development of the site was bringing on a solar power partner who would develop half the site as a Green Park, feature photovoltaic solar energy generating systems developed, constructed and operated by Southern California Edison (SCE), and facilities for R&D and teaching and learning. Green Park was expected to generate an estimated 10 MW of green’ power. Lease of the land was expected to generate a revenue stream for the College to support the ultimate build out of future programs and campus operations.
The College is exploring the purchase of the mall property, has made an offer to the current owners and is awaiting a response. The College is committed to explore all options regarding acquisition of the property. Currently, the mall is partially leased with no firm redevelopment plans in place.
“The COD Board of Trustees remains firmly committed to the development of the West Valley Campus,” said COD Superintendent/President Joel L. Kinnamon. ”The solar park project was a crucial component of the college’s plans. With that partnership and source of revenue no longer available there is no doubt that relocating the campus to the Palm Springs Mall is the right solution at the right time for the benefit of our students.”
The mall site is adjacent to Palm Springs High School, multiple athletic fields and public recreational facilities and opportunities for shared uses. It is also located on an existing bus route and near the business.
The mall site had been one of the preferred sites originally considered by the City early on in location discussions for the new campus. The site offered significant advantages due to proximity to existing infrastructure, access to public transportation, and adjacency to Palm Springs High School, the Palm Springs Public Library and the Camelot Theater. The location was ultimately not proposed due to the high cost of acquiring the mall and relocating major tenants like Gottschalks, True Value, Ross, Vons, Office Max and many more.
“This new site, located in the heart of the city, is truly the best location for the West Valley Campus,” said Mayor Steve Pougnet.“The city is experiencing a tremendous renaissance and it makes perfect sense that students have access to all of the wonderful things our city has to offer right in the heart of Palm Springs.”
The bond money left to spend on the West Valley Campus project is approximately $40 million. The College is confident it will recover funds invested to date with the eventual sale of the 119-acre site.