ABOUT US

Founded in 2013, Meriwether Companies is a private real estate investment and development firm focused on resort master plan, hospitality, and commercial development.

Over the previous 4 years, Meriwether has taken a methodical approach to both selecting a location and designing Coral Mountain resort. While the initial direction for approvals was to update previous Environmental documents, the City of La Quinta recently determined a full Environmental Impact Report was necessary. This decision, along with the impacts of the pandemic, has caused a delay since our initial schedule shared during community meetings in the Spring of 2020. Meriwether continues to embrace its commitment to transparency while being a great neighbor with long-term ownership plans and is excited for the public process that will occur throughout 2021. To join us at an upcoming community meeting, please visit here.

OVERVIEW

Up to 600 homes, starting at $2.5 million

Luxury wellness and spa amenities

Kelly Slater Wave Co. surf basin

One and two story boutique hotel with up to 150 rooms

Restaurant and retail at Madison Street/ Avenue 58

A robust green energy program is planned

Landscaping and public improvements along Avenues 58 and 60 and Madison Street will be completed within the early phases of the project

Meriwether Companies’ experience includes development of private club offerings, real estate communities, signature food and beverage establishments and groundbreaking sports and wellness resorts with a focus in the western United States. Along with Coral Mountain, the company is actively planning the Aspen Club in Aspen, Colorado and has recently completed Transfer Telluride in Telluride, Colorado and The Shores in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Meriwether’s hospitality assets include Griffin Club (Private Club: Los Angeles), The Hideaway and The Getaway (Boutique Hotels: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California), Melvyn’s & Ingleside Inn (Boutique Hotel / Restaurant: Palm Springs, California), and Parlor (Food Halls: Kansas City, Oklahoma City). Previous work completed by Meriwether Companies include projects in Park City, Utah; Big Sky, Montana; and Eagle, Colorado. The managing partners of Meriwether include Graham Culp, Noah Hahn, Garrett Simon and Mike Burkart. For more information on Meriwether and its principals, please visit www.meriwetherco.com.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Everyone should be concerned about the drought and responsible water use. We are fortunate that the water provider, Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), which has been managing water resources in the Coachella Valley for a hundred years, has significant planning in place that includes groundwater sustainability. CVWD has also adopted drought contingency measures that ensure water will be prioritized for domestic water users in the event of prolonged drought and addresses how surf facilities like Coral Mountain are treated.

Yes. CVWD has a State-approved Groundwater Management Plan under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires water agencies to show that groundwater aquifers are sustainable over a 20 year-plus “planning horizon.” CVWD presented this information to the City Council in October 2021. CVWD recently updated its SGMA compliance for the Indio Subbasin in which Coral Mountain is located. In addition, Coral Mountain has a 20-year Water Supply Assessment and Water Supply Verification approved by CVWD and included in the sustainability analysis submitted to the State.

The Wave Basin, which comprises only 13% of the total project water use, is directly connected to public/economic benefit. Compare this to uses of water in the Coachella Valley that could be considered “gratuitous,” where turf is strictly ornamental in nature, with no public benefit or economic activity that generates General Fund revenue for the city.  Examples of “public benefit” are parks and playing fields, while “economic activity” correlates to the generation of TOT or local sales taxes from hotels, short-term vacation rentals, and/or special events such as art festivals, car shows, concerts. etc.

The Wave Basin will use about 120 acre-feet of water per year, compared to golf course use of about 1,000 acre-feet per year. (One acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons, or enough water to cover an acre of land, about the size of a football field, one foot deep.) Therefore, the Wave Basin will use approximately 12% of the water used by a golf course.

Unlike a golf course, the Wave Basin holds water and is primarily affected by evaporation.

The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) used its established evaporation factors to calculate the evaporation rate for the Wave Basin, as explained in detail in the Final Environmental Impact Report. As it turns out, the evaporation calculation is conservative and overstates the amount of evaporation by about 50%. This is because at the time the Water Supply Assessment was prepared, there was uncertainty over the final water surface area of the Wave Basin. The total water surface area came in at 12.5 acres, rather than the 18.72 acres modeled.

At the test facility in Lemoore, California, non-potable water sources are used, not municipal drinking water. The Wave Basin is designed for this, using sophisticated onsite filtration technology to treat water so that it is suitable for human contact. After treatment, the water quality is comparable to that of a swimming pool.

The current intent is to utilize the same “non-potable” water sources used predominantly by golf courses, consisting of shallow well water and imported water from the Colorado River.

Coachella Valley Water District has no current plans to distribute recycled water to the area of the Valley in which the project is located. Regardless, Coral Mountain has committed to using recycled water should it become available. This contingency is being planned as part of the infrastructure program.

Yes. The light fixture manufacturer has received certification of the lights as dark skies compliant. The lights will not spill light into the sky like parks that use technology from the 1970s to the 1990s. In fact, the progressive Desert Recreation District is currently updating the lighting in its parks and plans to use fixtures like the ones at Coral Mountain.

No. The proposed lighting specifications were computer modeled for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). In late September 2021, the City requested that two of the actual light fixtures be set up on site to assess the results of the modeling in the EIR. This test was completed in November. Light measurements taken during the test confirmed that the lighting “cut-offs” are very precise, and there is no light overspill. This data is presented in the Final Environmental Impact Report, both in the Topical Issues and the Appendix.

Noise is one of the “topical issues” studied in the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Technical Appendices. The City imposes requirements for the conduct of noise studies based on its General Plan Noise Element and applicable Municipal Code ordinances. Noise studies are performed according to established industry protocols with specifications for measurement and interpretation.

A noise study was prepared using “real world” measurement data collected specifically for the EIR from operations at the Kelly Slater Wave Company Surf Ranch facility in Lemoore, California, which has been operating for eight years. The technology there is similar to what will be used at Coral Mountain.

The collected Lemoore data was entered into an accredited computer model that considers local site conditions, including landform composition (rock, earth, landscaped, etc.) and topography.

During preparation of the Final EIR, updated noise measurements were taken at Lemoore to gauge the results of upgrades and improvements in the equipment used to generate the Wave. Noise levels were reduced as a result of these improvements, although operational noise levels were already within acceptable levels under the City’s noise criteria.

Noise is mitigated below thresholds of significance per the noise criteria. And notably, there is no appreciable reverberation or reflection of noise from the Wave Basin off the Coral Mountain topographic features.

The existing Wave Basin operation in Lemoore, California, utilizes a speaker system to make periodic safety announcements and this function was included in the noise analysis for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Noise was below thresholds of significance with all operating considerations. Regardless, Coral Mountain continues to explore means of improving the operating characteristics, which could include limiting or avoiding use of public safety announcements. This is to the benefit of all parties, including our residents and guests. Speakers will NOT be used to project music across the Wave Basin.

We anticipate that one jet ski will be operated by staff in the basin to reposition surfers and for safety purposes, as is the case at the existing facility in Lemoore, California. Other recreational uses of personal watercraft will not be allowed. This was an operational consideration that was included in the City noise study. As promising electric technologies emerge for personal watercraft, Coral Mountain is committed to evaluating its suitability as part of its ongoing quest to refine and improve the Wave Basin’s operating characteristics.

No. The Circulation Element of the City’s General Plan requires new projects to conduct traffic studies according to established standards. As part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a thorough traffic study was performed.

The traffic study examines street and intersection capacities, starting with existing background conditions. It adds the proposed project, other approved projects, and buildout of vacant land within City limits per General Plan and zoning land use densities. This permits a comprehensive, data-based view of existing and future traffic volumes to be attained and analyzed.

This data informs where traffic improvements such as widening, additional turn lanes, and traffic signals are needed to ensure traffic flow stays above acceptable thresholds.

All operational aspects of Coral Mountain were considered in the traffic analyses performed, including daily community traffic and the limited number of proposed special events.

The recommendations of the traffic studies are incorporated into the mitigation measures of the Final EIR and project conditions of approval. The timing of any required improvements become precursors to permits.

No. The project is conditioned to pay its fair share of any improvement costs, for all infrastructure, not just traffic-related items. This will be accomplished by either the developer physically making the improvements or through existing fees that the developer pays as part of the permit process. Examples are the City’s Development Impact Fees or Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees (TUMF), which are collected by the City. The TUMF is managed by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, which provides oversight to inter-city and county transportation planning matters.

Yes, special events were included, and each event will require approval of a temporary use permit by the City. A discussion of the mitigation measures and conditions applied to special events is contained in the Environmental Impact Report. Special events require a Traffic Management Plan. The decision, on a case-by case basis, to approve or deny a temporary use permit is at the sole discretion of the City and is not an automatic entitlement.

Just as the development of the Trilogy and Andalusia communities altered aesthetics in the area, development of the last parcel within the historic Specific Plan area (Coral Mountain) will similarly result in an alteration of the local aesthetic context. This is unavoidable with the conversion of vacant land to development.

Coral Mountain has introduced several mitigation measures into the Final Environmental Impact Report to mitigate these impacts. These measures include a height restriction of 22 feet within 150 feet from the edge of Madison Street and Avenue 58, as well as enhanced setbacks to the perimeter walls and homes.

Perimeter landscaping on our property along Madison Street and Avenue 58 will be installed in the early phases of project development. This area is the “front door” to our community, making early completion of these improvements in our best interest to ensure the project’s attractiveness to guests and home buyers. This is ensured in the City’s project conditions.

The Specific Plan contains development standards that limit structure heights appropriately to the scale of the property. Current plans are for the hotel to be two stories, while most of the casitas are single story. The Specific Plan allows for up to a four-story hotel (though this is not currently planned), and the line-of-sight analysis and visual simulations included in the Environmental Impact Report demonstrate that a structure of that height in the tourist-commercial area will not be readily visible from the perimeter roadways or adjacent properties. A three-story viewing structure, approximately 100-by-100 feet, is planned on the edge of the Wave Basin for viewing and operations. The Wave Basin itself is pushed down into the site and occurs below the existing native grade. The distance of any taller structures from the perimeter roadways, as well as intervening walls, landscaping, and low-density residential neighborhoods, will ensure that the Coral Mountain project remains consistent with the neighboring developments.

Yes. Coral Mountain will provide homeowners the option, but not the obligation, to put their homes in a rental pool when not in use. We do not expect that all homeowners will opt to participate. However, homes placed in the rental system when not in use by the owner will generate Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) for the City. This is especially meaningful because the City does not currently receive any property tax revenue to pay for basic safety and governmental services because all proceeds are retained by the County of Riverside.

The rapid proliferation of rentals in neighborhoods not well-designed for this type of activity created challenges. The strength of Coral Mountain as a venue for short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) is that it can be designed for this use from the beginning. All STVRs will be regulated through the Development Agreement and City’s Municipal Code, as applicable.

Proper administration of a short-term vacation rental program begins early in the planning process. The pillars of a successful program are:

  • City regulatory structure. Determining the terms and conditions of allowing short-term vacation rentals before development occurs. The units will be subject to a Development Agreement and City ordinances as stipulated in the Municipal Code.
  • Suitable residential architectural design. Homes that encourage rental by physical design suited to short-term use.
  • DRE registration documents. Addressing short-term rentals in the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions for the community that are reviewed and approved by the State of California Department of Real Estate and the City of La Quinta.
  • Sales disclosures. Providing disclosures that must be agreed to by all homebuyers, acknowledging that the community allows short-term rentals.
  • Management. Intensive onsite management of the STVR program, streamlining the reservation system, transient occupancy tax (TOT) collection, and enforcement of rules.

Yes. Upon receipt of the comment letter, Coral Mountain took immediate steps to initiate an agency consultation. A qualified Peninsular bighorn sheep biologist was retained to engage with the agency about its concerns and make appropriate modifications to design features in the Specific Plan and mitigation measures in the Environmental Impact Report. As a result, any potential project impacts have been addressed. The developer looks forward to working with the City and the agency to implement these measures.

The federally recognized Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians was consulted on this matter. The recommendations of the Tribe’s cultural resource team have been incorporated into the Specific Plan and Final Environmental Impact Report. Worthy of note, the developer agreed to address concerns raised by the Tribe concerning the remnants of an old adobe structure on site, even though the Tribe acknowledged that the adobe has no apparent tribal significance.

Some of the most notable resources are the ancient rock art panels located along the base of the Coral Mountain. Unfortunately, because of unrestricted public access to the site over the past few decades, some of these 2000-year-old features have sadly been vandalized.

The Coral Mountain plan proposes to stabilize and preserve these sensitive resources. The developer has been working with the Desert Recreation District on a trail connection through the project site, near the base of the Coral Mountain, which would allow the public to continue to enjoy limited access to the site and better protect the resources.

Additionally, tribal monitors and archaeologists will observe all earth moving activity to ensure any resources that are encountered are properly recovered, catalogued, and curated.

The project has exceeded requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act in its commitment to preserve and curate the authentic pre-historic and historic resources onsite and they will be interpreted as part of the site experience for future visitors and residents.

The Coral Mountain community is private but will have some limited public accessibility.

  • The surf Wave will be accessible to guests at the on-site hotel or through the rental of a home owned by a member, should the owner elect to allocate some of their monthly Wave access.
  • The Village will feature a restaurant that can be accessed by making reservations to dine.
  • A neighborhood commercial market will be built at Avenue 58 and Madison Street. This “farm-based” market concept will include locally grown produce, including some grown on site.
  • The developer is working with the Desert Recreation District to establish a public trail connection through Coral Mountain that connects to other trails and recreational amenities planned by the District off site.

The Coral Mountain community is private but will have some limited public accessibility.

  • The surf Wave will be accessible to guests at the on-site hotel or through the rental of a home owned by a member, should the owner elect to allocate some of their monthly Wave access.
  • The Village will feature a restaurant that can be accessed by making reservations to dine.
  • A neighborhood commercial market will be built at Avenue 58 and Madison Street. This “farm-based” market concept will include locally grown produce, including some grown on site.
  • The developer is working with the Desert Recreation District to establish a public trail connection through Coral Mountain that connects to other trails and recreational amenities planned by the District off site.

How will the project provide economic benefits to the City of La Quinta?

Coral Mountain will have significant local economic benefits for the City of La Quinta in the areas of job creation and General Fund revenue through tax sources.

  • The project will create both temporary and permanent jobs.
  • The value of construction is estimated to be $1.2 billion, which will create good-paying jobs for vendors and tradesmen over five to seven years for the first phase alone.
  • Operations of the amenities, hotel, and community maintenance and management will create more than 200 permanent jobs.

General Fund revenue for the City will be created from several sources:

  • Millions of dollars in development impact and building permit fees for construction will be generated.
  • Sales tax from commercial development on the site, including The Corner neighborhood commercial site at Avenue 58 and Madison Street, as well as onsite Wave Basin operations, food and beverage, and hotel retail and services.
  • Transient Occupancy Taxes. The hotel rooms and carefully programmed and managed short-term vacation rentals will create significant TOT income for the City.

The Coral Mountain Specific Plan area (including the proposed Wave property, Andalusia, and Trilogy) is within the boundary of the former County Thermal Airport Redevelopment Area (RDA). As such, the County of Riverside retains all property taxes paid for the retirement of outstanding bond debt until at least the mid-2030s.

This means that none of the existing development in the former RDA boundary are paying for City emergency and general services. The cost of these services, estimated at $2,125 per home annually, generates an estimated city budget deficit of approximately $3.7 million. The City currently must make up this deficit from other General Fund revenue sources.

When the Specific Plan area was annexed in the early 2000s, the City studied the fiscal impacts and considered imposing a supplemental tax assessment on all homes. However, it deferred and opted not to take this step.

Now, with Coral Mountain coming forward, it is important that it not exacerbate any existing undesirable conditions and build in land uses that ensure it pays its own way for the cost of City services. The current plan achieves this objective, as studied by the City in a Fiscal Impact Analysis. The study indicates that Coral Mountain’s tax generation exceeds the cost of services and excess proceeds can be applied to budget shortfalls associated with the other Specific Plan area neighborhoods.

Yes. The Coachella Valley’s economy as a travel destination and magnet for discretionary real estate purchases (second homes), is due to the successful integration of mixed-use development. The Valley is a patchwork of land use patterns characterized by a mix of recreational amenities, commercial, and residential uses, which co-exist nicely by design. In the past, the traditional approach to tourism and discretionary real estate development was typified by constructing golf courses as a core amenity and creator of value.

Times have changed with shifting travel preferences and population demographics. To remain relevant as an economy, the Coachella Valley – including La Quinta – must adapt.

The Wave Basin is simply a substitution of the traditional golf course core amenity platform with a generationally relevant, non-traditional recreational platform, and other amenities and activities. The community’s focus is on active and healthy living.

Coral Mountain is situated on almost 400 acres. The project is a private community with 600 homes. Residents and guests of the two-story hotel and casitas (maximum 150 units) would have access to the signature Wave Basin, water amenities and other recreational features. The public will enjoy access to the restaurant and bar on a reservation basis along with the commercial development at the southwest corner of Avenue 58 and Madison Street. By committing to a private community, we have reduced traffic impacts of the project in the local area, as studied in the Environmental Impact Report.

Like other exclusive communities in La Quinta, our homesites are large, with most ranging in size from 12,000 to 40,000 square feet. Prices for large estate lots will begin at more than $2 million and finished homes in the village core will range from $2 million to more than $5 million.