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Jewel Crest Is a Safe Space for the Black Community in Joshua Tree

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When Jessica Jones first visited Joshua Tree five years ago for her best friend’s bachelorette party, she never wanted to leave. As she recalls, “I remember just staring out the window and thinking, Wow, this is such a magical place. Now, I get all the hype.” Jessica later decided to return to the California locale for a getaway on her own, but was met with a troubling realization while searching for accommodations. “I would look through the photos of who was represented in the different short-term rental listings, because they’ll usually have lifestyle photos that show people enjoying their rental space,” she adds. “I didn’t see one Black person.”

Increasingly disappointed by the lack of representation, Jessica realized that she had combed through about a thousand listings without seeing anyone who looked like her. “I was just looking for a photo that made me feel like, They want me to come here and stay at their place,” she says. “But they were all marketing to someone who is completely the opposite of who I am. Finally, I found one Black woman who owned a space and that was the person I booked with.”

BEFORE: A glimpse of Jewel Crest as construction is underway. 

Photo: Jessica Jones

BEFORE: The living room area during construction. 

Photo: Jessica Jones

The experience got her thinking, and it wasn’t long before Jessica decided to purchase a property in Joshua Tree. Nearly four months later, she closed on the five acres that would house her new business venture: Jewel Crest, a rental home built from the ground up. Jewel Crest is a 1,000-square-foot Scandinavian boho lofted cottage featuring a statement spiral staircase, a 400-square-foot patio, and sleek, bright bedrooms fitted with luxe mattresses. The website and Airbnb listing both promote the rental home as inclusive and welcoming to people of all backgrounds.

Jessica, a registered dietician and cofounder of the health and wellness company Food Heaven, has long been a real estate and design aficionado. However, this was her first experience constructing a home from start to finish. The most challenging part, she says, was securing a new construction loan. “I actually got denied five times before finally getting the loan. I do wonder whether I was denied because I don’t fit the profile of those who typically come in to do a new construction investment project. People in real estate were saying to me, ‘You don’t really have any business doing that by yourself, you need a partner, you’re not going to get approved.’ But I did.”

AFTER: Jewel Crest boasts 20-foot vaulted ceilings and a 10-foot spiral staircase. Situated on five acres of breathtaking desert landscape and vista views, Jewel Crest is a 10-minute drive from downtown Joshua Tree

Photo: Charlotte Lea

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