The vibrant Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs has suffered a setback as a major county construction project has forced gallery owners to seek help.
For at least the past six months, the road to the borough has been closed due to a Riverside County flood control project, nearly preventing businesses from operating effectively.
“They made it as difficult as they could for us,” said Tom Ross, a gallery owner in the Art District. Ross’s business, along with about a dozen other galleries, has seen a significant drop in business due to the lack of access to customers due to the ongoing construction.
Ross describes the area around the shop as a “warzone,” highlighting the waste, moving soil and constant noise from the construction site. The project aims to install underground pipes and convey stormwater, but the communication of the project was difficult, says Ross. The businesses themselves said they were forced to put up signs to divert customers.
Artist Juliana Poldi, whose work is on display at the Ross Gallery, shared her concerns about the dire situation. “Now zero customers are coming,” she said. “If you don’t make any sales because you don’t have customers, it’s creating a huge loss in revenue,” Poldi said.
With street traffic blocked, there are growing fears that galleries in the Backstreet Art District will be forced to close their doors permanently.
City officials, including Palm Springs City Manager Scott Stiles and Councilwoman Christy Holstage, recently toured the construction site to assess the situation. A Palm Springs spokeswoman said city supervisors have repeatedly urged Riverside County Flood Control to improve the project’s signage and sanitation.
According to the flood control district agenda from February this year, the project is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2023.
News Channel 3 reached out to the county for comment, but did not receive a response.
The Backstreet Art District hosts the “First Wednesday Artwalk” year-round from 5-7 p.m.