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"What does it take to build a city from scratch?" DesertS 10/1 ("Beverly Springs

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  • mountainsport500
    Could this city be a candidate for a car free city? A car free plan would take up much less space and be considerably more palatable to envronmentalists. Tim
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2004
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      Could this city be a candidate for a car free city? A car free plan
      would take up much less space and be considerably more palatable to
      envronmentalists.

      Tim Prescott


      Riverside County CA. ".. a "seven-diamond" resort city that would
      bring 20,000 residents .. Beverly Springs would also feature four
      championship golf courses, a theme park "borrowing the best from
      Disney
      and Epcot," a university, a monorail .. Windmills and solar panels
      would produce more than enough electricity to supply the new city and
      all of the water would be recycled. Pratt said in a telephone
      interview from his office in Los Angeles that he already has enough
      money from investors to get the project started. .."

      http://www.thedesertsun.com/news/stories2004/local/20041001003243.sht
      ml

      What does it take to build a city from scratch?

      County officials: Former athlete will need more than ads to create
      `Beverly Springs'

      By Jim Sams, The Desert Sun - October 1, 2004

      A former arena football player has been making a splash in the
      national media with advertisements heralding a "seven-diamond" resort
      city that would bring 20,000 residents, a casino, six hotels, a
      65,000-seat football stadium and a 1,000-foot tower to the desert
      east
      of Coachella.

      But county officials are skeptical if the project will ever get off
      the ground, never mind that its proponents have spent several hundred
      thousand dollars on advertisements in The New York Times and The Wall
      Street Journal to solicit the interest of investors.

      "I'm not sure where they have land on that scale where they could
      actually build something like that," said Riverside County Supervisor
      Roy Wilson. "It's pretty pie-in-the-sky and speculative right now."

      In a four-page advertising supplement that appeared nationally in The
      New York Times on Wednesday, Platinum Development LLC of Los Angeles
      announces plans for a 19,000-acre resort to be called "Beverly
      Springs."

      A lengthy narrative introduces readers to former Arena Football
      League
      wide receiver Khevin Pratt and his dream of building a new
      environmentally-friendly city at the edge of Joshua Tree National
      Park.
      The advertisement invokes Ben "Bugsy" Seigel's daring plan to build
      the
      Flamingo Hotel in the Mojave Desert, which led to the development of
      Las Vegas. Beverly Springs would feature a new casino to be built by
      an
      undisclosed "local" Indian tribe.

      According to the literature, Beverly Springs would also feature four
      championship golf courses, a theme park "borrowing the best from
      Disney
      and Epcot," a university, monorail, a football stadium, a Formula 1
      racetrack and an international airport.

      A 1,000-foot-tall spire "rivaling the Eiffel Tower in architectural
      grandeur" would soar over a town center built on an island in the
      middle of a man-made lake.

      Homes built to the standard of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater
      development would line the shores, on lots of at least three acres
      and
      with pricetags ranging from $7 million to $500 million. According to
      a
      list published by Forbes magazine in 2003, the most expensive home in
      the United States was priced at $75 million -- a 150-acre estate in
      the
      Hamptons on Long Island.

      Windmills and solar panels would produce more than enough electricity
      to supply the new city and all of the water would be recycled.

      Pratt said in a telephone interview from his office in Los Angeles
      that he already has enough money from investors to get the project
      started.

      He promised that Beverly Springs will be so luxurious that it could
      not be measured by the standard five-diamond ratings used by some
      travel guides to rate the best hotels and resorts.

      "We are going to create the most electrifying experience, under the
      seven-diamond window, that the world has ever seen," Pratt said.

      Few details on location

      Pratt would not disclose the exact proposed location of the
      development, other than it is located in a valley in the
      unincorporated
      county off Interstate 10 about 25 miles east of Palm Springs.

      That would put it somewhere between Coachella and Desert Center.

      Pratt also would not disclose which Indian tribe he is working with
      on
      the casino. The Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, who are
      approved to negotiate a gaming compact to build their first casino,
      are
      based nearby.

      Tribal leaders could not be reached for comment.

      According to The New York Times Co. Web site, a four-page
      advertisement costs about $400,000. Pratt acknowledged he spent about
      that much. He said he also advertised in The Wall Street Journal and
      Barron's.

      The New York Times advertising supplement states that Platinum
      Development has "secured land" for Beverly Hills, but Pratt
      acknowledged during the interview the company is still negotiating an
      option to buy property. He said, however, that the land has been
      secured in a "trust." He would not disclose details.

      The Times advertising supplement does not make any financial offer or
      directly solicit investments. Times spokesman Toby Usnik said the
      advertising department does not verify the validity of advertisements
      that invite investors to request information.

      Athlete turned developer

      Pratt, now in his mid-30s, played for several teams in the Arena
      Football League from 1994 to 1999, after playing college ball at
      Chico
      State University. He said he also played briefly for the Philadelphia
      Eagles, but was injured before the regular season.

      Now chairman of Platinum Development, Pratt, a Los Angeles native,
      said he hopes to create the Coachella Valley's 10th city. The
      development would even share its lodging tax revenues with the other
      cities in the valley as a gesture of goodwill. And he said Beverly
      Springs would insist that employers pay living wages to their
      workers,
      possibly through subsidies financed by profits from the resort.

      Raising money, questions

      Pratt said he is in the process of arranging financing with Bank of
      America and Morgan Stanley. Officials for those companies could not
      be
      reached for comment late Thursday.

      Pratt's dead-sure optimism may be challenged political realities and
      state and federal environmental laws. Conservationists banded
      together
      to block a far less ambitious project on the edge of Joshua Tree
      proposed by developer Richard Oliphant. Government agencies and
      private
      conservation groups last week completed a $26 million purchase of the
      proposed Joshua Hills development site.

      The head of one of the agencies involved in the Joshua Hills purchase
      said he doesn't know of any private property large enough in the east
      valley to accommodate the Beverly Springs development. Bill Havert,
      executive director of the Coachella Mountains Conservancy, said the
      only large section of privately held property near I-10 east of
      Coachella is in an area known as Paradise Valley, and that's only
      about
      5,400 acres.

      "You won't find anything close to 11,000 acres unless you go to
      Blythe," Havert said.

      Even if land is available, it may not be developable. County
      Supervisor Wilson said most of the land east of Coachella is habitat
      for endangered desert tortoises.

      "I'm not saying it's not possible. I'm saying it would be a difficult
      process," Wilson said.

      And a long process. Pratt acknowledged that he has not yet submitted
      development plans to Riverside County. He also has not yet drafted an
      environmental impact statement, a lengthy document required by all
      large-scale developments.

      Pratt will also have to wait to fulfill his dream of incorporating
      Beverly Springs as another Coachella Valley city. Such plans must be
      approved by the county's Local Agency Formation Commission. George
      Spiliotis, executive officer of the commission, said state law
      forbids
      creation of new cities and towns unless 500 registered voters live
      within the proposed boundaries.

      "That does seem to be a bit of a hurdle, doesn't it?" said commission
      Chairwoman Terry Henderson, a La Quinta City Council member. She said
      the project may be possible, but faces "tremendous challenges."

      Pratt said the project will be built.

      "In Riverside County and L.A. County -- any jurisdiction -- they have
      thousands of projects that never come to fruition, but this one has
      been in the making for eight years and one that in my opinion and the
      opinion of the people who are involved, it is a project that will
      happen."

      Jim Sams is a reporter for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at
      760-778-4620 or via e-mail.
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