Continued from Part 1:
The Arizona firm was chosen out of a pool of four — hailing from San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Scottsdale — interviewed by Wessman Development in April.
Some residents said after the announcement on Wednesday that they are disappointed the money that will be spent in the conceptualization process won’t stay local.
Don Ricart of Palm Springs wrote in an email to The Desert Sun: “So sorry to learn the entire state of CA is so bereft of enough architectural talent that we have to send our local dollars to AZ.”
A thread of similar comments were posted on mydesert.com and were the buzz around town.
“With this project being the big thing that is supposed to revive downtown, I can’t believe the first thing they do is choose an architect from a different state. It just seems backwards thinking to me,” said Palm Springs resident Robert Kalin. “They should use local architects or closer-to- home architects because local tax dollars should stay as close to local as possible.”
Mayor Steve Pougnet and Councilman Chris Mills, who are on the council subcommittee for the project and served as advisory members of the selection panel during the April interviews, take issue with the argument that the mall project must be designed by valley architects.
Mills, a local architect himself, said the project called for expertise that no one in the Coachella Valley possesses.
“It was very important for John (Wessman) and very important for the project to use architects that have experience working with — and the reputation to attract — the type of tenants the project needs,” Mills said, “and there aren’t architects locally that have that experience. Not one.”