A development with 1,500 new homes is coming to north Indio, as the city council approved plans this week for the 55-and-older community.
The new Del Webb Desert Retreat will neighbor the existing Sun City Shadow Hills golf course community.
The plans call for homes to be built in phases over 10 years. The roughly 378-acre site for the development is located between Madison and Jefferson streets, north of Avenue 40.
The plans, submitted by national homebuilder Pulte Home Company, were unanimously approved by the city council Wednesday, even as some Shadow Hills residents — who said they weren’t opposed to the overall project — maintained concerns about its impact on stormwater channels and traffic along Avenue 40.
The project, which will include a community clubhouse with pickleball and tennis courts at its center, includes 270 homes in its first phase, with a model grand opening in early 2025. The clubhouse and other amenities are slated for completion in 2026, according to project officials.
Del Webb, which is part of Pulte Home Company, already has a significant presence in the Coachella Valley, with similar communities in Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage, as well as Sun City Shadow Hills.
With the addition of Desert Retreat, the developer's desert footprint will include more than 10,000 houses, all for people 55 and older. "Active adult communities" are age-restricted, but typically don't have healthcare or assisted living facilities on site.
City planners found the project consistent with the existing land use designation for the site, so there weren’t any major zoning changes needed.
The community’s main entrance will be located off Avenue 40, just west of the intersection with Madison Street. A stoplight will be added at the intersection, along with left-turn lanes for accessing both the new neighborhood and Sun City Shadow Hills, and a traffic analysis found the streets could accommodate the additional flow of cars.
But some residents of Sun City Shadow Hills, which includes roughly 3,500 homes to the south and east of the project, weren’t fully convinced by the study.
Deborah Gmeiner, who chairs Shadow Hills' city development committee, said the traffic study underestimates the flow of cars during the busiest times of the year. She also worried about how construction along Avenue 40 would impact people living in Shadow Hills and accessing the area on golf carts.
“On the other hand, Pulte (the developer) will benefit from being able to suggest to buyers the benefit of their location in close proximity to our golf and restaurant facilities, while Sun City residents will continue to bear a substantial cost in underwriting those facilities and in disruption to our daily lives,” Gmeiner said.
She also worried about the development’s impact on regional stormwater drainage, saying Sun City didn’t want to become a catch basin for runoff flows. An attorney representing the developer told the council that they expect to finalize their drainage plan with Coachella Valley Water District within a couple months, and city officials agreed to make that deal a condition of approval.
While several other residents spoke at the city’s planning commission meeting in July, the only other person from the public who spoke Wednesday was Brandon Marley, CEO of the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, who offered his support for the development.
The project drew just a few questions from the council before its approval. Indio Mayor Oscar Ortiz asked the developer and city staff to market the homes to the city’s current residents, “just because we know that a lot of our homes right now are not being bought by Indio residents.”
“We just want to improve that connection and make sure that our residents know those are available,” Ortiz said.
Councilmember Elaine Holmes credited the developer for listening to feedback from neighboring residents in recent months, saying the city can continue to monitor the sewer plans and construction traffic as things move forward.
“I have no doubt that future concerns by the residents will continue to be addressed,” Holmes said.
The council approved the plans by a 4-0 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Lupe Ramos Amith absent.
Tom Coulter covers the cities of Palm Desert, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells. Reach him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Indio to get 1,500 new homes from Del Webb next to Shadow Hills