"What does it take to build a city from scratch?" DesertS 10/1 ("Beverly Springs
- 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
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
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. .."
What does it take to build a city from scratch?
County officials: Former athlete will need more than ads to create
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
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
A lengthy narrative introduces readers to former Arena Football
wide receiver Khevin Pratt and his dream of building a new
environmentally-friendly city at the edge of Joshua Tree National
The advertisement invokes Ben "Bugsy" Seigel's daring plan to build
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
undisclosed "local" Indian tribe.
According to the literature, Beverly Springs would also feature four
championship golf courses, a theme park "borrowing the best from
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
with pricetags ranging from $7 million to $500 million. According to
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
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
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
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
the casino. The Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, who are
approved to negotiate a gaming compact to build their first casino,
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
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
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
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
reached for comment late Thursday.
Pratt's dead-sure optimism may be challenged political realities and
state and federal environmental laws. Conservationists banded
to block a far less ambitious project on the edge of Joshua Tree
proposed by developer Richard Oliphant. Government agencies and
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
"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
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
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
Jim Sams is a reporter for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at
760-778-4620 or via e-mail.