|By Carol Park, The Business Press, San
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 12, 2005 - Development in Palm Springs is on the rise as the population grows and tourist season kicks off at the desert getaway.
The expanded Palm Springs Convention Center attracted two hotels to the growing city.
The Palm Springs City Council granted Nexus Cos. in Santa Ana exclusive rights to develop a Hard Rock Hotel on six acres adjacent to the convention center. The hotel will have at least 200 rooms and employ about 200 people.
The convention center Sept. 5 opened 20,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space, 34,000 square feet of exhibit space and 38,000 square feet of pre-function space.
The larger space allows the convention center to book events that left because they outgrew the center. IBM, ESRI in Redlands and Intel left the convention center because it was too small. Now those companies will return, said John Raymond, director of Palm Springs community and economic development. Before the $32 million expansion, the center could accommodate only 58 percent of meetings held in California. That number increased to 73 percent when the center expanded.
Nexus Cos. competed with the Oasi Group in Palm Springs for the six-acre hotel site. The land is owned by the city of Palm Springs.
The Oasi Group still plans to develop a hotel by Starwood Resorts and Hotels. The facility will be located down the street from the Hard Rock, near the convention center.
The group needs approval of a location by the city, Oasi Group partner Lauri Kibby said. Details of the hotel have yet to be decided, including the size and brand name.
Starwood Resorts franchises 728 hotels worldwide including the Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien brands.
"We hope to capture both visitors and convention event-goers," Kibby said. "Palm Springs is growing and it can become a hot weekend spot and the Oasi Group plans to be part of that."
Palm Springs welcomes another hotel near the convention center because there will be enough business for both hotels, Raymond said.
About 40,000 second-home owners and tourists will flock to Palm Springs during the peak season May 1 to July 4.
Hotel occupancy in Palm Springs is expected to grow 4.2 percent in 2006, according to a report from Los Angeles-based PKF Consulting.
"Tourism is a big part of Palm Springs, but we need to diversify," Raymond said. About 4 million visitors travel to the Coachella Valley each year for leisure and conventions.
About 1,000 people have moved to the city since 2000. Homes and hotels are being built for second-home owners and tourists.
Hotel Zoso opened in Palm Springs Village Dec. 1. The 163-room hotel employs 150 people and targets tourists.
Restaurants and other businesses that cater to the tourist trade are gearing up for the winter season.
Enzo's Ristorante will relocate from downtown Palm Springs to a larger space three blocks away because of a 30 percent increase in business from visitors.
"Business has been excellent and we needed more seats because of the increase," manager Patrice Romeo said. "We needed a bigger kitchen so we could serve all the customers."
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