By Mike West, Inland-West
Mentors and Protégés participating in the 2016 ULI Mentorship Program are organizing various ways to meet and learn from each other about best practices and lessons learned in planning and development occurring in Southern California.
John Brown, an attorney with Best, Best & Krieger LLP, arranged a tour to provide an “inside look” at what a large scale redevelopment entails. John Wessman and Michael Braun of Wessman Development in Downtown Palm Springs met with Brown and the protégés in his group.
The Downtown Palm Springs development has been a political hot button for city leaders and the community. A Desert Sun op-ed on the necessity for the project in the community, that was published the morning of our meeting, framed the group’s discussion. The meeting began with a review of various site plans and elevations used throughout the project’s development cycle. The team from Wessman Development exceeded any initial expectations we may have had by going into depth on what it took to get the development approved. The discussion was open, informative and educational. We all left with an understanding of how essential a development agreement can be when pursuing large scale development projects.
After meeting with us, we were taken for a site walk by Braun. During our tour, we visited the first mixed-use building to be developed. The property had been framed and most of the structural elements had been completed. The building will consist of retail on the bottom floor, office on the second, and loft-style apartments that open up onto Palm Canyon above. We were also able to look at the initial construction phases of the Kimpton Hotel that will be going into the development. The project will be adding roughly 300 subterranean parking stalls, that at the time of our site walk, were nearly complete. During our tour, Braun answered our questions pertaining to highest and best use, entitlement procedures, and how to find development deals to begin our own development careers.
After our site walk, the Group went to Spencer’s restaurant for lunch and to discuss everything we had learned during the morning’s meeting and tour.
(If you are interested in participating in the 2017 ULI Mentorship Program, task yourself to contact the ULI OC/IE office in November 2016. Thank you.)