Wexler Retail Ready for Wrecking Ball?

A fence has gone up around the recently vacated Donald Wexler-designed retail building. My immediate thought? It’s getting readied for the wrecking ball. However, according to the Desert Sun, the fencing was put in place to protect against trespassing and vandalism. No demolition permit has yet been filed. But the urgent manner in which the tenants were required to leave the property (basically 1 month notice) gives me pause. Plus there is a construction dust control sign next to the structure.


The recently deceased Wexler is mid-century royalty here in Palm Springs. His homes are carefully restored. But commercial spaces seem more divisive. Many in the community would be happy for this structure to come down. And perhaps it’s not his most beautiful building, but I think it has several things going for it.


The arched, stone walls are unique and appear to be in good shape. (That sign could and should be painted over, sorry Tritone.)


The concrete arches and the overhang — at least from this side — are intact. The windows meeting the overhang scream Palm Springs Modern. The roof extending over the sidewalk shelters shoppers and almost guides that mountain landscape to reflect in the windows and reward patrons with a double view.


I suspect this signage is not of Wexler’s design and was added on, but the individual little metal boxes that held 1 letter each, printed on translucent plastic and backlit? Stay tuned: we’ll see this kind of sign treatment on a hipster bar or hotel in the near future. I think it’s fabulous.


I’m not sure what’s in the cards for this building. I hope the fence IS for the protection of the building. I would love to see this place rehabbed and kept true to Wexler’s design. It was being used for its purpose — retail — until the tenants were evicted in May, so structurally, it can’t be all that decrepit. Maybe it could be the lobby of a new hotel, a club, a restaurant? The Ace did it. It could be killer.

Ultimately why does it matter if one more building gets torn down? Well, once it’s gone, it’s gone. And because each modernist building that is visited by the wrecking ball and replaced with a cookie-cutter brown desert stucco structure, helps demolish more character from Palm Springs.

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