The Wilton Rancheria is eyeing Elk Grove, California, as the new site for its casino resort costing upwards of $400 million.
The tribe announced the preferred new location in the Sacramento Valley on Thursday. The news came after the tribe's initial application to take into trust a parcel of land west of Highway 99, north of Galt, for the property. But the "insurmountable economic challenge" of constructing a more than $30 million overpass at a nearby road prompted the tribe to look elsewhere, a news release states.
The tribe has entered into an option agreement with Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the Elk Grove property, to purchase the 35.9-acre parcel. There the tribe intends to open its 12-story resort that will feature 302 rooms, as well as 2,000 gaming machines and a 30,000-square-foot space for events.
"When you have a project of this size, it’s a huge economic generator,” Chairman Raymond Hitchcock told KCRA.com. “And, that money travels around six or seven times. It’s a multiplier effect. It will be huge.”
The Howard Hughes Corp. has a neighboring retail mall in the works, anticipated to be completed with dining and entertainment: the Outlet Collection at Elk Grove. The currently unfinished mall at Highway 99 and Kammerer Road has been idle since 2008, reported the Sacramento Bee.
The roughly 700-member tribe anticipates the new casino resort will create about 2,000 full-time jobs, plus 2,000 more during the 12 to 18 months of construction, while also providing annual revenue for vital services such as police, fire, roads and schools, and support other community needs. "The city of Elk Grove will benefit, the county of Sacramento will benefit, and the tribe will benefit as well," Hitchcock said. "We’ll be able to help serve and support our community on top of that."
Due to a Memorandum of Understanding, the tribe can proceed with its resort plans without a community vote, but Hitchcock emphasized they want the city of Elk Grove's support and intends to schedule a town-hall-like meeting in Elk Grove to share its plans with the community and respond to questions and concerns.
The Wilton Rancheria, descendants of the Plains Miwok who lived and prospered in the Sacramento Valley since time immemorial, was re-recognized as a federal tribe in June 2009, after being terminated in 1958 under the California Rancheria Act, an Indian termination policy.