Wilton Rancheria eyes Elk Grove for casino

35-acre project could be built near mall site

Source: Elk Grove Citizen, Lance Armstrong, Citizen Staff Writer

The Wilton Rancheria on June 9 announced that they chose a 35-acre site in Elk Grove as their preferred location for Sacramento County’s first Indian casino.

This site neighbors the future Outlet Collection at Elk Grove location near Grant Line Road, west of Highway 99. 

Included in the casino plan is 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 tribe intends to recommend that the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, in its (required) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), designate a 35.9-acre parcel along Highway 99 as the preferred alternative for the project.

The proposed casino property, which is owned by The Howard Hughes Corp., is located north of the future site of the mall site. 

Other sites that were considered by the tribe 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.

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 property. The tribe previously filed a land-into-trust application for the Galt site.

Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond C. Hitchcock said that the more than $30 million cost of building a freeway overpass at Mingo Road “presented an insurmountable challenge.”

Hitchcock explained the decision to favor Elk Grove was also based on action taken by Sacramento County officials. 

“(On June 8), Sacramento County agreed to two (memorandum of understanding) service agreements – one for Galt and one for Elk Grove,” he said. “And if we were to build in Galt, we would have to invest another $10 million in one-time costs to help revitalize Mingo Road and McKenzie Road and some of the county roads on the east side of the highway, on top of the $30 million crossing.”

In regard to the Wilton alternative, Hitchcock said that site was not selected because the tribe was seeking a place that was “more commercially viable and more conducive to traffic.”

“(Elk Grove) was going to be a better alternative, instead of (a site) out in the country,” he said.

Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis responded to the tribe’s announcement that Elk Grove was named as the preferred site for the casino project.

“We look forward to working with Wilton Rancheria and engaging the community around this project,” he said. “If the proposed hotel, dining, shopping and entertainment resort comes to our city, it would be adjacent to the planned Outlet Collection at Elk Grove and, together, they could create a powerful engine for economic growth.”

Hitchcock also spoke of  the benefits that a casino could bring to Elk Grove.

“This is one of the largest privately funded projects in south Sacramento County,” he said. “It will bring over 2,000 full-time jobs to the actual facility. There are a couple thousand construction jobs over the 18- to 24-month life of the build.

“The tribe is from south Sacramento (County). Our office is in Old Town Elk Grove. That means we’re not going anywhere anytime soon and that money is going to stay here in our community to where we can benefit the community with philanthropic endeavors.”

Hitchcock also said that with a casino, the tribe would provide “annual monetary lump sums” to the city of Elk Grove’s police department, the Cosumnes Community Services District Fire Department, hotel-transient occupancy tax laws and other “things of that nature.”

Following an arrangement for the land to be held in trust for the Wilton Rancheria by the federal government, the sovereign government of the tribe would then need to establish a compact with the state before gaming operations could commence.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the project’s environmental firm are currently reviewing comments that were collected prior to a Feb. 29 deadline in preparation for beginning work on the administrative draft of the final environmental impact statement.

Hitchcock said that it is anticipated that the final statement will be released to cooperating agencies later this summer. Those agencies are the city of Elk Grove, the city of Galt, the county of Sacramento, the tribe and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Following those agencies review of the statement, a final EIS will be sent to Washington, D.C.

Hitchcock commented about when a groundbreaking could occur for the project.

“If we could break ground within three to five years, (that project pace) would be optimum,” he said.

Although a time and location is yet to be determined, the tribe plans to hold a town hall meeting in Elk Grove to present its plans to the community as well as respond to questions and gather feedback.
Posted: Jun 10, 2016,
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Author: Editor