Source: Sacramento Business Journal
The Wilton Rancheria tribe announced Thursday that it wants to build a $400 million to $500 million casino, hotel and convention center project at an Elk Grove shopping center complex.
The tribe has signed an option to buy 35.9 acres in The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove, a partially-completed mall on Highway 99 owned by Howard Hughes Corp.
Hughes plans to finish building the retail center, which will include shopping and movie theaters, on the remaining portion of the parcel.
The tribe previously had been working to develop its casino outside of Galt on a 282-acre swath of farmland next to Highway 99. The Galt site would have required the tribe to build a $30 million highway overpass, whereas the Elk Grove mall location is already developed with all the necessary infrastructure, roads, power and sewer service for a major traffic attraction, said tribal chairman Raymond Hitchcock.
The cost of development would likely be about the same at either location, he said, but in Elk Grove the project could be completed sooner, making it a better choice.
The tribe is not disclosing the cost of the land at the mall.
The complex will have to fit on 36 acres at the Elk Grove retail center, requiring the construction of a four-story parking garage. The higher price of mall land and to build the garage makes the cost of both projects similar, about $400 million to $500 million.
The casino will include 110,260 square feet of slot machines and table games and a 12-story hotel with 302 rooms. It also would include a spa, fitness center, and one of the region’s largest convention centers. It would have 2,000 slot machines and table games, along with multiple restaurants.
The tribe's decision to build a casino at the Elk Grove location could be a catalyst for new economic activity on property that's long been a stark reminder of the last recession.
The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove, visible from Highway 99 on the southeastern edge of the city near Kammerer Road, was partially built by a previous developer before the financial crisis of 2008 halted progress. Since then, the complex has remained vacant and unfinished.
Howard Hughes Corp. has said it will not complete development of the mall until tenants commit to leasing at least 50 percent of the property. The casino does not count toward that percentage.
“The fact that the casino is going there will give it some buzz,” Hitchcock said. “That site has sat dormant for 10 years.”
The tribe will hold a town hall meeting in the future in Elk Grove to present its plans and to collect feedback and answer questions, he said.
“We look forward to working with Wilton Rancheria and engaging the community around this project,” said Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, in a news release. “If the proposed hotel, dining, shopping and entertainment resort comes to our city, it will be adjacent to the planned Outlet Collection at Elk Grove and, together, they could create a powerful engine for economic growth.”
Wilton Rancheria’s casino plan is in the federal environmental review process, with a final environmental impact report expected to be released in July.
With timely approvals, the tribe would like to begin construction in January, Hitchcock said.
After the tribe exercises its option to buy the 35.9 acres in Elk Grove, the federal government would put it into trust, in essence making it tribal sovereign land and eligible to host gaming.
The tribe’s rancheria is located on 39 acres in the unincorporated community of Wilton in southeastern Sacramento County. Federal authorities first acquired the land for the Wilton Miwok tribe in 1928, but then terminated the rancheria’s tribal status in 1959.
Miwok leaders fought for years to regain federal tribal status before succeeding in 2009. The rancheria land is in the floodplain of the Cosumnes River and outside of Sacramento County’s urban services area, where there's little infrastructure. That land was decided not to be a good match for high-traffic casino operations.