Master Developer: Roy Fey
When Roy Fey moved his family to Palm Springs from Chicago in 1956, he intended to finish construction of the Desert Skies Hotel and then move on to other interests. Today, the name of Roy Fey has become an institution in the desert, and is one of the most recognized developers in its history.
El Rancho Vista Estates was built during 1959-60 by Roy Fey, a former accountant from Chicago who came to PS and began a small real estate development empire. Fey worked with some of the most prominent architects of the Southern California Modernist movement, such as Donald Wexler.
El Rancho Vista Estates remains largely intact, although some of the houses had fallen into decay over time. With the huge resurgent interest in mid-century modernism, most of the El Rancho Vista Estates homes have been purchased by preservation minded folks, and have been significantly rehabilitated.
In 1962 Roy Fey was the first person to introduce the concept of condominium building into the area by converting Desert Skies. At the time, condominiums were such rare beasts that there were no state statutes nor laws governing such a conversion. Fey even had to draw up his own documents and forms.
"When I went to the city to file the forms, the officials said, 'What are you talking about? Condominium? How do you spell it?' There was a big article on the front page of the newspaper shortly after that read 'ROY FEY RAPES LAND' because we altered the density ratio by taking what was normally three to the acre and making it five to the acre."
The names of Roy Fey and his son, Robert, and the south end of town, are almost synonymous in Palm Springs. Developments such as Canyon View Estates (designed by William Krisel); Canyon West Estates and Canyon Vista Estates are all projects that were built by Roy and Robert Fey. The Feys also built many other single family detached homes in the Indian Canyons neighborhood.
Fey was the first to build "executive homes" — a concept that provided all the privacy of a large home with all the facilities normally found in a condominium complex.
Canyon Estates were designed by well-known architect Charles Dubois, AIA, and opened to the public in 1970. The homes are situated on a 79 acre parcel in south Palm Springs, within the Indian Canyons neighborhood. There are 254 homes that comprise the community, of which 36 are executive homes, with private backyards and pools; 68 are free-standing single homes, with access to community pools and spas; and the remaining 150 homes (75 structural units) are duplexes or condos in the middle sections of the community.