(Original Rendering of Orchid Tree Hotel Project)
Palm Springs, CA
Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously on July 10th to amend the agreement with developer Richard Weintraub on the Orchid Tree Hotel Project located at the corner of Baristo and Belardo in the Tennis Club neighborhood which sits adjacent to Downtown Palm Springs. However, several councilmembers made it clear they were not happy with the continued lack of progress and the developer’s assertion that he had the absolute right to build a 7 story 308 unit affordable housing apartment complex under new California law.
City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger dismissed Weintraub’s previous assertion saying, “they absolutely do not have an absolute right to develop that project at least without any sort of city council review,” and went onto say, “the city would still be very much involved in reviewing any project if they were to submit that application.”
Both Councilmembers Jeffrey Bernstein and Ron deHarte confirmed that the July 10th’s discussion and vote was not about considering a potential 7 story apartment complex but instead, the agenda item was specifically about any amendments related the agreement related to the existing Orchid Tree Hotel project. Councilmember deHarte went onto inform the public saying, “We are just trying to make sure the community understands that nothing like this 308 unit development is before council and it is definitely not something under consideration.”
Councilmember Lisa Middleton in her remarks to vote yes on supporting the amendments to the agreement with developer Richard Weintraub didn’t mince words on her stance. She said, “I’m going to support the amendments with reluctance but I think staff has done an outstanding job.” She continued saying, “as to whether this project will ultimately be completed, that’s dependent on the developers’ ability to raise the funds either through their own resources or through the capital markets to complete this project but, the city has bent over backwards in order to make this a successful project and we have withstood one delay after another in moving forward. We’ve on multiple occasions said this is it and then we get another threat of lawsuit.”
She addressed the 7 story 308 unit affordable housing apartment complex reported by the media saying, “I want to make though one comment. The residential complex is absolutely not before us and Mr. Weintraub knows because I have told him. I believe that project was surfaced specifically in order to inflame the public and scare the public in the hopes that we would create more favorable terms in this agreement. We were not scared and we did not create any new more favorable terms, and the good will of this Councilmember has been exhausted as a result of that.”
Richard Weintraub, the developer under the amended agreement, has 90 days to submit new hotel plans to the city which will be reviewed by several commissions.