Dear Indio Neighbors,
First, I want to thank those of you who take the time to read our City newsletter. It is assembled by my very caring City Hall co-workers with whom I am blessed to work.
I know that our residents like to hear about our City’s progress and about new businesses that trust in our future by investing here. And recent months have not disappointed! El Super grocery store opened to rave reviews this month at the former KMart site on Highway 111. I am sure they must be enjoying the recently completed Highway 111 roadway improvements made possible by State, Federal and local funds.
The new Fairfield Inn & Suites opened north of the I-10, a new Hampton Inn broke ground near the I-10 WalMart, and the 12-screen Maya Cinemas has submitted construction plans for the City’s final review. Closer to Jackson, in the Indio Town Center, construction is well underway for the new Marshall’s and Burlington, a Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill Restaurant has opened, and other new tenants are on the way. Across the street in the former Target building - Tractor Supply Company is beginning construction of tenant improvements, and we are excited that Buzz Box is working on moving their corporate offices and packaging operations to Indio. Buzz Box is a very highly regarded new company that packages small boxed cocktails for consumption at home or at entertainment events all over the country and now into Europe.
Changing sectors for a moment, our “new housing” market has also picked up noticeably. At least a half dozen home builders are moving forward with previously approved plans that had been on hold. And, we recently approved one of the first market-rate multi-family projects largely motivated by anticipated new jobs in and around the County Justice Center projects on Highway 111 that are nearing completion. And right down the block, the Haagen Company continues to make progress on their Indio Grand Marketplace project — to replace the Fashion Mall. In the meantime, while they pursue larger plans, please notice how nicely they have cleaned up the old mall property and even added some new tenants.
Meanwhile COD continues to bring thousands of students Downtown and to work on new plans to more than double their campus capacity! We continue to have interest from other developers to do Downtown development. This is a tougher economic nut to crack, but interest right now is very serious. Not only does COD inspire new confidence, but the City is experiencing a strong interest from arts & culture groups, like the Coachella Valley History Museum, the Desert TheaterWorks at IPAC, the AMP music program, and the Coachella Valley Arts Center. Starting shortly, Indio will be a host city for exhibits associated with the great Desert X program, showing off the best of Southwest creativity. Helping us to shepherd our City arts programs, we recently welcomed new Management Analyst for Public Arts Debra Alleyne. Debra hails from Trinidad & Tobago, but moved here most recently from Dubuque, Iowa.
We are very excited about our growing reputation as a place to do business. And also events! My wife and I attended our first Southwest Art Festival last week at Empire Polo. We are already working on next year’s Tamale Festival and looking forward to the upcoming International Date Festival and the Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals.
Local government, of course, is much more than new businesses and events. I am proud to say our excellent Police Department continues to get even better. Chief Mike Washburn leads an A+ department and their efforts to recruit the next generation of community-based Police Officers is progressing well. Meanwhile we are starting our effort to replace their dramatically inadequate Police Station with new facilities — to be paid for with Measure X funding.
I am also happy to report that we have been informed that our Fire Department will be led by new Division Chief Robert Fish. He joins a team that has served Indio loyally and effectively for years. We are also beginning analysis of their headquarters Station 86 on Jackson with intent to either replace or rehab that aging facility.
I am proud of all of our staff departments. And we have announced that the City’s new Community Development Director Kevin Snyder will join us on February 19. Kevin comes to us with years of experience, mostly in Washington. The small staff in our Community Development Department has been extraordinary while we worked short-staffed the last 4 months. I can’t thank them enough for their commitment.
We are also currently in the process of hiring a new Indio Water Authority General Manager to join our very solid team of water utility professionals. And we just recently announced the promotions of Scott Trujillo to the new position of Deputy City Manager and Ian Cozens as our Information Technology Director. Both men have worked for the City for several years and through hard work, earned these noteworthy promotions.
I did not mean for this column to get so long – but things are happening in Indio. We hope you like them. Please share with us your ideas.