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New Downtown Park: Coming Soon!

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Click here for the Latest Downtown Park Project Agenda

Click here for the Latest Downtown Related Materials

Following extensive public outreach and an online survey, the construction contract for the new park has been awarded and is expected to be completed by FALL 2020!

The goal of the new park is to help connect residents and visitors to a natural urban oasis in the heart of downtown while at the same time highlighting Palm Springs' unique culture ad magical beauty. The park will feature two grassy lawns, palm groves, a water feature that replicates the City's famed Tahquitz Canyon waterfall, public restrooms and a new downtown police substation.

Stay tuned for more details about the Grand Opening Celebration in 2020! 

Downtown Palm Springs Park Project

Committee Members


Councilmember, Christy Holstege

John McCoy - Architectural Advisory Committee

Sean Lockyer - Architectural Advisor Committee

Jim Gazan - Measure J Commission

Sid Craig - Measure J Commission

Russell Pritchard – Public Arts Commission

Mayor Pro Tem, JR Roberts

Alan Bowley - Parks & Recreation Commission

Les Young - Parks & Recreation Commission

Kathy Weremiuk - Planning Commission

Michael Hirschbein - Planning Commission

Ann Sheffer - Public Arts Commission


Project History

March 5, 2015, with the City Council Subcommittee, City staff, and MSA Consulting, to review the first initial conceptual plan identifying a location for the Aluminaire House adjacent at the southwest corner of the Downtown Park adjacent to the Palm Springs Art Museum, (hereafter the “Museum”), and a location for the Forever Marilyn statue at the southeast corner of the Downtown Park adjacent to Belardo Road. Other concepts proposed generally include:

  • Elimination of on-street parallel parking along the Main Street frontage in an effort to expand the size of the public space;
  • Location of a main performance stage at the west end of the Downtown Park allowing for views to the stage with a perspective framed with Mt. San Jacinto as a background;
  • Location of back-of-house facilities to support the main performance stage, buffered by a proposed sculpture garden and palm tree grotto on Museum Drive to block views of the back-of-house facilities from the Museum;
  • Location of a second performance stage at the north end of the Downtown Park allowing for viewing of films and small performances;
  • New public restroom facilities, concession space, and police substation within a new one-story building with roof-top observation deck for additional seating/standing capacity;
  • Development of two circular outdoor spaces providing a total capacity of approximately 3,000 attendees with additional viewing platforms on the existing parking garage along the north side of the Downtown Park, and a potential observation deck above the new one-story building; and
  • Three points of main access along the south, east, and north sides of the Downtown Park, with final design to incorporate landscaping, berming, or fencing to allow for securing access into the Event Center for ticketed performances.


 City’s initial conceptual plan for the Downtown Park is shown below. The initial conceptual plan was presented to the City Council for review at the June 17, 2015, meeting. At that time, the City Council deferred approval of the conceptual plan for the Downtown Park, created a new “Downtown Event Center Committee”, consisting of representatives of the Architectural Advisory Committee, Parks & Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, a City Council Sub-Committee, and the Museum, (the “Committee”), and referred public review and refinement of the conceptual plan to the new Committee. Concept Plan 


   The Committee reviewed an initial design study report for the Downtown Park prepared by Rios-Clementi-Hale Studios on behalf of the Museum, (hereafter the “Museum’s design team”), that identified stakeholder goals, precedent scale comparisons, examples of other public plazas and performance spaces, and a preliminary concept plan shown on the left. The Committee recommended that the City’s design team continue a collaborative dialogue with the Museum’s design team on design elements associated with the Downtown Park.



Downtown Palm Springs Park Study Session

On January 25, 2017, the City Council held a special Study Session to discuss the Downtown Park. At that time, the City Council reviewed the final conceptual design prepared as a collaborated effort by the City’s design team and Museum’s design team.

The City Council reviewed the preliminary programming objectives of the Downtown Park, and agreed the programming should include:

  • Permanent public restrooms
  • Event stage areas (2) with infrastructure (power / water)
  • Area assigned for the Forever Marilyn (or alternative sculpture)
  • Area for Aluminaire House
  • Police substation building (or alternative plan for security)
  • Flexible, multi-functional space to accommodate a range of special events
  • Permanent and temporary shading, cooling system
  • Provisions for temporary fencing
  • Inclusion of historical element honoring the Desert Inn



On May 11, 2017, City Council held a public workshop to review three initial conceptual plans for the Downtown Park prepared by RCHS. The three initial conceptual plans related to various themes described as:

  • “Common Ground” – a destination for gathering;
  • “Healing Oasis” – a destination for health; or
  • “Sculpture Park” – a destination for art




Following the initial Public Workshop the City and RCHS provided a formal public review process on the Downtown Park, soliciting comments both at the workshop, but also via on-line surveys. Comments were solicited from May 23 through June 9, 2017. During the review period a total of 1,381 people responded with 709 comments which were collated by RCHS to determine the prevailing consensus of which of the three initial conceptual themes was favored. Specifically, the public was asked these questions:



The third public meeting of the Committee was held September 17, 2015. The Committee reviewed a revised design study for the Downtown Park prepared by the Museum’s design team that identified “Park Goals”, concept diagrams, site plans, proposed diagrams, examples of shade structures, and various site renderings. The site plan is shown in Figure 3 on the following pages, and identifies performance lawn spaces, an “Events Plaza” and a Sculpture Plaza with location for the Aluminaire House, and a location for the “Forever Marilyn” statute.


The fourth and final public meeting of the Committee was held November 5, 2015. The Committee reviewed the final conceptual plan collaborated by the City’s design team and Museum’s design team, as shown in Figure 4 on the following pages.

At the final meeting, the Committee also reviewed the preliminary construction estimate for the Downtown Park, with costs identified for four separate areas:

Area “A” – City Park: $6,300,090

Area “B” – Museum Event Plaza: $607,986

Area “C” – Museum Sculpture Plaza: $1,036,458

Area “D” – Museum Drive Intersection Improvements: $346,962


The City Council directed staff to coordinate with Mark Rios, of Rios Clementi Hale Studios (“RCHS”), on developing a revised conceptual design for the Downtown Park.

City staff coordinated with Mark Rios and obtained a proposal for development of conceptual designs for the Downtown Park, including community outreach efforts. Mark Rios proposes to develop three initial conceptual designs based on the Council’s stated programming goals identified above, and suggests two community outreach meetings and presentations on the conceptual designs and programming, with a final presentation to City Council.

Based on the public’s participation, RCHS developed a revised story for the conceptual plan, based on these themes:


* Sited on the grounds of the historic Desert Inn, the park will be an oasis that draws on Palm Springs’ legacy as a destination for health, nature, and pleasure seekers.

* Nellie Coffman, the Desert Inn’s founder, famously espoused the “space, stillness, solitude, and simplicity” of Palm Springs and the park is imbued with her spirit.

For the second public workshop held by the City Council on July 20, 2017, RCHS developed a revised conceptual plans (See plans on the following page, label Conceptual Plans).

At the October 18, 2017, City Council meeting, the third public meeting and opportunity to review and comment on the Downtown Park, RCHS presented the final conceptual plan to the Council, (Link to Presentation). At that time, Council approved the conceptual plan.

Subsequently, staff has negotiated with RCHS on the scope and fee of a Professional Services Agreement to incorporate all of the next phases required to complete the Downtown Park: Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents/Permitting, Bidding, Construction Observation, and Warranty Period

 Draft 1


Draft 2

Draft 3


Draft 4


 Draft 5


Draft 6



Draft 7



Draft 8


Project Timeline

Schedule / Timing of Design & Architectural Review Processing

Completing the design development and final design of the Downtown Park, which is one of the most important public spaces to be developed in the City of Palm Springs, will require extensive collaboration by multiple parties, outside stakeholders, including formal review through the City’s Major Architectural Review process as required by Section 94.04.00 of the Palm Springs Zoning Code (PSZC). 

RCHS has identified a scope of work and preliminary schedule for completion of the remaining phases of work, as follows:

  • Schematic Design:                                                        3 months     (March 30, 2018)
  • Design Development (50%/100%):                             4 months     (July 31, 2018)
  • City Approval of 100% Design Development:            1 month      (August 31, 2018)
  • Construction Documents (50%):                                 3 months     (November 30, 2018)
  • City Department / Outside Agency Review:               1 month      (December 31, 2018)
  • Construction Documents (100%):                              2 months    (February 28, 2019)
  • City Department / Outside Agency Review:               1 month      (March 31, 2019)
  • Bidding:                                                                         2 months    (May 31, 2019)
  • Construction:                                                                9 months    (February 29, 2020)

The Design development process may be shortened, through the City Council’s authorization to expand the City Council Ad-Hoc Downtown Park Subcommittee (Roberts/Holstege) to include:

  • Architectural Advisory Committee (2)
  • Measure J Commission (2)
  • Parks & Recreation Commission (2)
  • Planning Commission (2)
  • Public Art Commission (2)

 The expanded City Council Ad-Hoc Downtown Park Subcommittee acts as the authorized public body to review the Schematic Design and Design Development Drawings during the Major Architectural Review process required by Section 94.04.00 of the PSZC, in lieu of separate and sequential review by the Architectural Advisory Committee and Planning Commission. This process is intended to  streamline the Design Development Phase by several months.


As the City Council is the “applicant” of the Downtown Park, the full Council review the 100% Design Development Drawings for the Downtown Park following review and approval of it by the expanded City Council Ad-Hoc Downtown Park Subcommittee. Upon Council’s approval of the 100% Design Development Drawing, RCHS will commence with preparation of the Construction Documents and required permitting with City Departments and outside agencies.

The final step of the Council’s review for the Downtown Park will occur when staff submits the completed Construction Documents to the City Council for review and approval, and an authorization to solicit bids.


Environmental Impact:

Pursuant to Section 15063 of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was prepared and circulated for this project.  The DEIR was released for review on October 22, 2008.  Notices of the reports were sent to all applicable agencies and published in accordance with CEQA.  Comments were received by the City and responses to comments were provided in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).  The FEIR determined that the project would result in post-mitigation significant effects on aesthetics/visual resources, regional air quality, and cultural resources.  However, the City Council concluded that the benefits of the Specific Plan implementation would outweigh the potential adverse effects.  Findings and a Statement of Overriding Considerations were adopted as part of the EIR certification and Specific Plan approval.

In 2012, the City prepared Addendum #1 to the FEIR for the Specific Plan.  Addendum #1 was prepared to evaluate the revised Downtown Revitalization Plan (“Downtown Palm Springs”), as well as the approval of a parcel map to realign property boundaries, the dedication of public streets and abandonment of certain rights-of-way, and acceptance of public easements. Addendum #1 evaluated the potential visual and aesthetic impacts that could result from the proposed changes and found that the overall effects would be no more significant than those associated with the implementation of the adopted Specific Plan.  No other environmental impacts were expected to result that were not analyzed and mitigated in the previously certified FEIR, Statement of Overriding Considerations, and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program.  Addendum #1 was adopted by City Council on October 17, 2012.

In 2015, the City prepared Addendum #2 to the FEIR to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the changes to the Specific Plan identified in the Amendment, which included various revisions and updates to the Specific Plan, the development of Block E as the Downtown Palm Springs Park, and a Major Architectural Review for the development of a hotel use of up to 75 feet located on Block B-1 (Case No. 3.3908 MAJ). The environmental analysis concluded that the potential environmental impacts associated with the revised Specific Plan identified in the Amendment were substantially consistent with the impacts previously analyzed in the certified FEIR and in Addendum #1 approved in 2012.  No changes were proposed that would require major revisions to the previously certified FEIR, and it was determined that the revised Specific Plan identified in the Amendment will ultimately reduce the overall intensity and density previously allowed within the originally adopted Specific Plan. It was also determined that the potential environmental impacts associated with the revised Specific Plan identified in the Amendment will result in the same or reduced environmental impacts when compared to those analyzed in either the previously certified FEIR or Addendum #1 approved in 2012.  The City determined that none of the components of the revised Specific Plan identified in the Amendment will result in a significant effect not previously identified in the certified FEIR or Addendum #1 approved in 2012.  The Findings and Statement of Overriding Considerations adopted by the City in 2009 are consistent with the environmental analysis provided in Addendum #2.

On March 2, 2016, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 23977 confirming, ratifying, and adopting the findings and conclusions of Addendum #2 to the FEIR.

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