First, a Tennis Club
There may never have been a Canyon View Estates if it hadn’t been for a scandalous Hollywood divorce.
In 1960, developer Roy Fey built a home designed by Donald Wexler for Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh in the Movie Colony neighborhood of Palm Springs. Being avid tennis buffs, Curtis and Leigh applied for membership to the exclusive Palm Springs Tennis Club. However, the club rejected their application. Incensed, Curtis and Leigh, along with a group of their Hollywood friends, approached Fey about building a club of their own. He found a perfect location: a 40-acre plot in south Palm Springs near the soon-to-be-completed Canyon Country Club. They hired Hugh Kaptur to design a 200-room semicircular hotel with seven air-conditioned tennis courts. They tapped Pancho Gonzales as the resort’s tennis pro (Gonzales was the dominant tennis professional of the 1950s; he still holds the men’s all-time record of being ranked world No. 1 for eight years).
Planning progressed until, in 1962, Curtis and Leigh suddenly divorced. Without their participation the project was abandoned.
The land was owned by the local Indian tribe and its members, but as The Desert Sun wrote on Dec. 30, 1966:
“Roy envisioned the whole South Palm Canyon area beautified by park-like developments with homes and apartments located in a country-club-like setting in this wind-free protected area.
“It took years to negotiate a long-term Indian lease, and in the meantime he kept building private homes.
“In his negotiations with the Indian owners and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fey helped to establish many of the standards for Indian land development, profitable both to the Indians and to the builders.”
Enter William Krisel
Fey asked architect William Krisel to devise a plan for condominium homes in a park-like setting, one of Fey’s first major construction projects.
Krisel’s partnership with Dan Palmer, Palmer & Krisel, had established a reputation in Los Angeles for tract housing that combined affordability with an open, modern aesthetic. By the early 1960s the firm was one of the leading architects of contemporary homes in Palm Springs, having designed the Twin Palms and Racquet Club Estates neighborhoods for the Alexander Construction Company, and completing the successful Sandpiper cooperative apartments in Palm Desert.
The design for Canyon View Estates incorporated William Krisel’s signature design elements such as the unique pop-up gable roof designs with clerestory windows, patterned concrete block, open carports and other details that we now recognize as the definition of Palm Springs mid century modern style.
A New Concept in Vacation Housing
Condominiums were still a novelty in much of the country, and Palm Springs became the first city in California (and one of the few resorts in the nation) to legalize condominiums as a new form of vacation housing. Roy Fey was one of the first developers of condominiums in Palm Springs.
The first phase of twenty two-bedroom and eight three-bedroom homes was completed in 1963. The first ads for Canyon View Estates appeared in late 1962, and the development was expanded in 5 more phases through 1966. HOA #4 was the 4th phase built in 1964 and sold through 1965.
In a move unusual for a developer, Fey reduced the total units from 240 to 213, allowing for the wide rolling green space at the center of each complex. Lower density also permitted more flexibility in landscaping the site and positioning the patios for the best mountain views and maximum privacy.
The two-bedroom units were initially priced at $22,500, and the three-bedroom units at $25,000 (within a year it rose to $25,950 and $30,950).
Sales & Marketing Success
Roy Fey’s marketing savvy secured regular publicity in The Desert Sun, and he ran extensive display & classified advertising from 1962-1966 in The Desert Sun, Palm Springs Life, and the Los Angeles Times.
Each phase of Canyon View Estates sold quickly, and as demand increased for the 3-bedrooms, later phases increased the mix of the larger units. Minor design changes were made to the units during each phase.