Proposed casino neighbors future mall site
Source: Elk Grove Citizen, Lance Armstrong - Citizen Staff Writer
The Wilton Rancheria on July 6 will hold a town hall-style community meeting to present details of its plan to build the county’s first Indian casino in Elk Grove.
Included in that project are a gaming floor with 2,000 slot machines, 84 gaming tables, a 12-story, 302-room hotel, a fitness area and spa, an outdoor pool, a 30,000-square-foot convention space/banquet area and fine dining restaurants.
The July 6 meeting will be held at The Falls Events Center at 8280 Elk Grove Blvd. from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Last month, the tribe announced that it selected a 35-acre site north of the future site of The Collection at Elk Grove mall in Elk Grove as its preferred location for the project.
Also previously considered as possible sites for the project were 282 acres, just north of Galt and within that city’s sphere of influence, and a 75-acre site between Dillard Road and the Cosumnes River in Wilton.
The tribe filed a land-into-trust application for the Galt site before ultimately deciding upon the Elk Grove site.
Howard Hughes, which also owns the property for the future mall, entered into an option agreement with the Wilton Rancheria for the sale of the Elk Grove preferred casino site property.
Tribal Chair Raymond “Chuckie” Hitchcock said that the tribe is “absolutely” eager to make Elk Grove the home of its casino.
“After we’ve been three years into this EIS process – the Environmental Impact Statement – and as we’re coming toward the end, we had to look at all the variables,” he said. “And when you look at Elk Grove, the infrastructure that’s already ready to go for the traffic, the overcrossing is done, water and waste water lines are pulled right directly to the project.
“It’s already slated for commercial development. You’re not changing agricultural (zoning) to commercial (zoning). When you put all those things together, (the Elk Grove site) just makes sense across the board.”
Hitchcock spoke about the purpose of the upcoming community meeting.
“We’re basically presenting an overview of the project, showing some slides, showing what the casino-hotel will look like, the footprint, give them a little history of the tribe, some details of the community, what it will do for the tribe and try to get some feedback and try to take some questions,” he said.
Hitchcock, who will give a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting, said that he plans to talk about certain steps that the tribe must take to establish and maintain a casino in Elk Grove.
“So, it’s kind of a talk about the process that we have to go through, what that entails, what are some of the agreements that we will enter into that will provide services and monetary annual annuities to the city of Elk Grove, the county of Sacramento (the Cosumnes Community Services),” he said.
Also included in Hitchcock’s presentation will be a description of the land-into-trust process and a timeline history of the tribe, and how it became involved in its efforts to establish a casino.
Hitchcock explained that part of the tribe’s desire to hold the upcoming meeting is to clear up certain misconceptions and address concerns about the project.
“I hear kind of the same (comments) that we don’t pay taxes or it’s going to be a huge issue in crime or a problem gambling or this isn’t right for my community,” he said.
Hitchcock added that one misconception that he has heard is that the casino project would replace the mall.
“We’re not (replacing the mall),” he said. “We’re going to be on the Phase 2 portion of the (Howard Hughes) property and connected to the actual outlet mall,” he said.
The casino project is expected to bring local jobs to the community, Hitchcock explained.
“The resort and casino project will bring over 2,000 full-time jobs,” he said. “Our tribe has a high unemployment rate, but if we gave every single unemployed tribal member a job at the casino facility, that’s not even 10 percent of the amount of jobs that are available.”
Another estimated 3,000 jobs would be available for during the project’s 18 to 24-month construction period, he said.
Hitchcock added that in addition to providing annual annuities to the city and others, the casino would also benefit the local economy through its use of outside sources such as advertising, print services, food, beverages, maintenance, and repair.
Furthermore, Hitchcock commented about what he called “the most important thing.”
“We’re not an out-of-state venture coming in and building here and taking the money out of state,” he said. “We’re here in Elk Grove. Our offices are here in downtown Elk Grove. That means the money stays here in Elk Grove and gets invested in our community.”
Although Hitchcock is not yet able to provide a specific time when the community could expect a groundbreaking for the casino, he estimated that it could be held as soon as mid-2019.
“It’s a slow process to get through the land-into-trust process,” he said. “It’s hard to say what kind of lawsuits happen once we get land-into-trust, because that’s usually when the lawsuits happen. I’d say groundbreaking is three to five years away.”