Can furniture and design stores save The River at Rancho Mirage?

Forever 21 is closing at The River in Rancho Mirage on Saturday. The closure, part of 100 stores nationwide being closed by the company, follows a string of shutdowns at the dining and entertainment property, including restaurants, Starbucks, and retail stores. But, a new plan has been hatched to fill the vacant storefronts at the River: adding something along the lines of a West Elm and other similar shops.

Via the Desert Sun (emphasis by me):

Steve Lyle, a longtime commercial leasing agent in the desert with Coldwell Banker Commercial Lyle & Associates, said closures can create new opportunities to put in better-tailored stores — thought it can take time. The former Sam’s Club in La Quinta, for example, sat vacant for about nine years but is now slated to house a Floor & Decor.


“It allows shopping centers and districts to be recreated,” Lyle said. “It’s not the end of the world; something better could emerge out of it.”


In the case of The River, Lyle recently signed on to help develop a new interior design-focused corridor along the eight vacancies at the front of the property on Highway 111. Fashion, he said, was not the right fit for The River, which has more of a food and entertainment focus — and past agents, he said, were from out of town.


He hopes to secure a chain like West Elm or Crate & Barrel in the former Forever 21 space, and dub the new zone the 111 Design District at The River.

Whether or not people want to shop for very expensive furnishings prior to seeing a movie or after loading up on the calories at the Cheesecake Factory remains to be seen – and no one is really sure if a West Elm or Crate & Barrel would even want to open up at a property that has zero retail successes in its history, but perhaps we will find out sometime in the next nine years.

Now, to be fair, the problems with keeping businesses open is not just relegated to the River, as the surrounding properties have also seen the closings of Johnny Rockets, Applebee’s, and Mimi’s Cafe in recent years.

We tried our best to suggest how to fix the area some years ago, but it appears those who reside in the city were more interested in protesting In-N-Out Burger.