Great Article From The Desert Sun
Developers of Indian Wells Crossing have added a new partner to help speed along progress on their long-anticipated restaurants and shops - now slated for 2009.
The deal with real estate firm Weingarten Realty was completed after receiving approval from the city of Indian Wells during the last few weeks, said Michael Kiner, a co-developer of the project.
Indian Wells Crossing, formerly called Miles Crossing, is a mixed-use commercial and residential project slated for Miles Avenue and Highway 111. It is also expected to feature a hotel and 22-unit housing track.
As part of the deal, Weingarten Realty, which owns more than 400 properties in 29 states, will finance Indian Wells Crossing's retail wing at an estimated cost of $40 million, said regional director Robert McSparran.
The company also plans to use its own funds instead of borrowing, McSparran added.
The deal would not only provide financing, but also a national network of contractors and retail tenants, Kiner said.
Weingarten, McSparren said, could draw from its pool of 5,300 tenants to find the right restaurant and retailers for Indian Wells.
"We needed a fit of someone who could come in and take over the actual construction and leasing arm," Kiner said.
He partnered with Chicago-based developer Gerald Fogelson to form Miles Crossing Retail, LLC. The pair worked on the design and entitlements, and Kiner said they likely would have borrowed to finance the project.
Weingarten will now steer the project through construction and leasing. The financing is an added bonus, Kiner said.
The company opened a new L.A.-based office last year and was looking for area investments.
Indian Wells Crossing was originally scheduled to open shops and restaurants by fall 2007, but technical issues have bumped that back to fall 2009, officials said.
The project will be built into the Whitewater River Wash slope, and the developers were mired in engineering studies and approvals from both the Coachella Valley Water District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which have jurisdiction on parts of the wash.
McSparran said he doesn't expect more delays, and construction should begin this summer.
Indian Wells Crossing "has been on the books for four or five years now," he said. "It really needs someone to take the bull by the horns and drive it across the finish line."
So far, the project has six confirmed eateries, including the Chop House and LePaon. McSparran said he's negotiating with two more "high-end" restaurants, plus a day spa, an eyewear shop and several banks.
But even as Indian Wells Crossing's retail segment sees progress, there haven't been any new developments on its proposed hotel across the street and the market slowdown has put the houses "on the back burner," Kiner said.
The hotel was originally supposed to be managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, but talks fell through in summer 2007.
Indian Wells Crossing developers then approached Marriott, which operates nearby Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, but a change of ownership has complicated the talks.
Now they're negotiating with several hotel companies. The goal is a hotel, but there's a chance it could turn into something else, Kiner said.
Indian Wells Crossing will be Weingarten's first Coachella Valley property. The company also has an Indio commercial project early in the works.