CATHEDRAL CITY – This community, the second largest in the Coachella Valley, is experiencing a multimillion dollar revitalization that has been years in the making. It is, as Mayor Mark Carnevale said, a city on the rise.

The community, population about 55,000, is teeming with new facilities that total north of $13 million – and that’s lowballing it.

Consider that the revitalization of Downtown Cathedral City includes:

  • A new $8.2 million Fire Department
  • A new $3.7 million amphitheater
  • A new $2.7 million Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre
  • A new multi-million dollar casino (price TBA)

The revitalization is breathtaking.

Revitalization of Cathedral City: City on the Rise

Mayor Mark Carnevale

“This development is a clear message that Cathedral City is moving forward,” Carnevale told Uken Report. “It has taken years for all this to come together. It is an honor to be mayor while this fabulous opportunity is coming to light, but it has taken years of persistence and planning by many individuals’ hard work to make this happen.”

First and foremost, Carnevale said, a debt of gratitude is owed the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for choosing Cathedral City for their third casino location. Moreover, he said, the city is grateful for the tribe’s generosity toward the city’s new fire department, roads and intersection, all of which will improve the city’s infrastructure.

This casino will be a landmark not only for the tribe but also for Cathedral City and the surrounding communities, Carnevale said.

“This should employ over 560 employees” Carnevale said. “The casino will be just what Cathedral City is all about – a neighborhood-style casino. It will have all the amenities of a large casino but with a smaller, comfortable atmosphere. This will (be an) economic boom to our great city.”

The casino will be a significant draw for the downtown. It will complement the restaurants, the movie theatre, festivals, amphitheater, and the repertory theatre.

“Kudos to all the many individuals who have participated in making this happen,” Carnevale said. “Cathedral City is on the rise.”

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians announced the construction for the Cathedral City casino will be underway soon thanks to Federal government approval of the Tribe’s request to transfer the land status from fee to tribal trust for gaming purposes.

Revitalization of Cathedral City: City on the Rise

Groundbreaking for new Fire Station 411

“We are excited to begin construction on this large-scale investment in Cathedral City,” Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said in a news release. “This project will create jobs, revitalize an undeveloped downtown property and support Cathedral City’s economic development efforts.  In addition, we have the honor of working with Cathedral City to relocate and build a new fire station that will allow fire fighters to serve city residents from a brand new state-of-the-art facility and a more desirable location.”

In 2017, the Tribe acquired 12.5 acres at the corner of E. Palm Canyon Drive and Date Palm Drive to complete a 13.6 acre project site for an entertainment development project in the heart of downtown Cathedral City.  As part of that agreement, the Tribe contributed $5.5 million to build a new city fire station at 68950 Buddy Rogers Ave.

Revitalization of Cathedral City: City on the Rise

CVRep Playhouse

“This is a real game changer for Downtown Cathedral City,” Carnevale said.  “For more than a decade, the land where the casino will be built has been an eyesore to the community.  Having a brand new gaming and entertainment center as a major anchor to our Downtown Arts and Entertainment District will spur more interest and development, provide quality entertainment for our residents and visitors, and generate additional revenue for city services.  We have been waiting for this day to happen and we could not be more pleased.  Downtown Cathedral City is now the place for quality theatrical performances, blockbuster films, concerts, outdoor festivals, and soon to be added to our collection, gaming.”

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is expected to announce a groundbreaking celebration date soon.

Revitalization of Cathedral City: City on the Rise

Cathedral City Casino exterior

“The City of Cathedral City and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have been working as partners for more than two years to make this project come to fruition,” Administrative Services Director Tami Scott said in a prepared statement.  “We have been able to formalize agreements that will provide improved streets and infrastructure around the property as well as enhanced public safety measures including the new fire station, public safety personnel, and other amenities that will greatly enrich the aesthetics for our downtown.”

The new downtown Fire Station 411 will be built at the northwest corner of Buddy Rogers Avenue and Date Palm Drive in Cathedral City.

The $8.2 million state-of-the-art fire station will replace the current fire station located across the road, on the southwest corner of Buddy Rogers Avenue and Date Palm Drive. The new Fire Station 411 has been designed to serve the community for the next five decades. It will have space to house a 10-person emergency response crew. It will allow for a ladder truck, fire engine, and ambulance. The new station will include dorm facilities, kitchen, office space, and fitness center for firefighters.

The new fire station expected completion date is October 2020.

In addition, the crumbling Buddy Rogers Avenue will be fully improved due to a collaborative effort with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. This new road will go from Date Palm Drive to Monty Hall Drive near the Mary Pickford Theatre. It will provide sidewalks, bike lanes, street lights and desert landscaping.

At the intersection of Date Palm Drive and Buddy Rogers Avenue, a new four-way traffic signal is being installed, by the Tribe, to allow emergency vehicle response from the fire station and provide an entrance to and exit from the new casino.

Money for the fire station came from land sale receipts in the downtown area with a large portion coming from Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ purchase of nearly 13 acres of land at the northwest corner of Date Palm Drive and East Palm Canyon Drive (HWY 111).

Revitalization of Cathedral City: City on the Rise

Amphitheater rendering

In January, CS Legacy Construction began work on the new $3.7 million downtown amphitheater park. CS Legacy is charged with building all aspects of the park except for the stage portion of the park.

The 2.5 acre downtown amphitheater park adjacent to the parking garage at the corner of Avenida Lalo Guerrero and Cathedral Canyon Drive will feature a permanent outdoor stage, restrooms, concession stand, children’s play area, and walking paths.  With a seating capacity exceeding 2,900 people, this amphitheater park will be an ideal location for our city’s festivals, art shows, food truck events, concerts, local theater productions, and much more.  Completion of the downtown amphitheater park is expected in the fall of this year.


Image Sources

  • Mark Carnevale: Mark Carnevale
  • Groundbreaking for new Cathedral City Fire Station 411: City of Cathedral City
  • CVRep Playhouse: City of Cathedral City
  • Cathedral City Casino Exterior: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
  • Amphitheater Rendering: City of Cathedral City
  • Cathedral City Casino interior: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians