A plot of land once destined to be an 18-hole golf course in the California desert is slowly turning into a neighborhood of 1,150 homes. The neighborhood – or “agrihood,” as it’s marketed – is set on the edge of Palm Springs. Its communal amenities include a coffee shop, full-service bar, gym, yoga studios, bocce courts and spa.
If that isn’t enough, 70 acres of the old golf greens are being transformed into a working olive grove, which will be harvested and turned into olive oil. (That’s where the “agrihood” designation comes from.)
The old golf cart paths have been converted into hiking trails that meander through the olive groves and desert landscape.
“Not everything survives 120-degree heat in the summer,” said Brad Shuckhart, who headed the development and construction of the Miralon project. “Olives are a pretty hardy plant. They grow well in the Middle East, they also grow well in in the desert in California, and they’re not big water users.”
The price of entry is the purchase of one of the new construction homes, which range from around $700,000 to $1.2 million, said Shuckhart. The units are a mix of single-family homes and condos.
The community has been a long time in the making. It was originally planned to be a golf course with surrounding homes back in 2003, said Shuckhart. But just after the golf course portion was finished, the financial crash hit in 2008.
“It was go-go times and then 2007, 2008 just basically stopped everything, including this development,” said Shuckhart. “When we bought the site, all of the landscaping had fallen into a state of disrepair. The infrastructure that had been previously installed needed to be significantly reworked or repaired, just because the passage of time and vandalism and things like that.”
More than a decade later, the work resumed, but with a different vision, more fit for today’s buyers. Instead of a hodgepodge of Italian and Spanish-inspired homes, all the new buildings are inspired by midcentury modern design.
The golf course was ditched – “The desert is chock-full of golf courses, we didn’t see a need for another,” said Shuckhart – in favor of something that would put all that hypothetical water use to “literally bear fruit” for residents.
Mindful water use is key to life in the desert, as is using the location’s most abundant natural resource: sunlight. All homes have solar panels on the roof, and there’s a large solar array in the community that helps offset the massive community center’s energy use, Shuckhart said.
The whole package has been an attractive offer so far for the more classic Palm Springs demographic – i.e. retirees – but also people inspired to leave the city since the pandemic, like growing families, Shuckhart said.
The community itself is still growing, too. About 100 homes have been built so far; about 70 or 80 of them are occupied. Shuckhart said it’ll be another six or seven years before the final home at Miralon is sold.
“We were just given a sizable blank canvas, and I think we’ve come up with something that has been appealing thus far to our residents and people are excited about it.”