Source: ABC10, Ericka So, KXTV
The Wilton Rancheria tribe recently announced it wants to build a $400 to $500 million casino, hotel, and convention center at an Elk Grove shopping center complex located off of Highway 99.
On Thursday, the tribe announced it signed an option to buy 35.9 acres in The Outlet Collection, a partially-completed mall owned by the Howard Hughes Corp. The site is currently being transformed into a retail outlet mall, and the plan is for Wilton Rancheria to build the resort facility next door.
Tauni Churchill has lived in Elk Grove for 26 years, and she’s excited to see something, anything happen to the abandoned plot of land.
“I’ve been looking at that eyesore for years, so if they’re gonna finally do something with it put some shopping and put a casino then great,” Churchill said.
Elk Grove resident Shane Bharat also shares Churchill’s sentiment.
“I think it’s a great idea because it’s kind of been a ghost mall is what we call it lately,” Bahrat said. “So it would be nice for them to do something with it.”
The Elk Grove mall site has been sitting, unused since 2008 after the recession. Now many in the community are hopeful the casino could bring life to the area.
Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond C. Hitchcock believes the casino will truly revitalize Elk Grove.
“Realistically, it’s great for the community, the county of Sacramento, the city of Elk Grove and the tribe for sure,” Hitchcock said.
He explained the casino would not only draw people to the city, but it will help create thousands of jobs.
“All that together is a real huge generator,” Hitchcock said. “It’s gonna bring 2,000 full time jobs just to that facility alone, they’ll be a couple thousand construction jobs.”
According to Hitchcock the resort will include a 12-story, 302-room luxury hotel, spa and fitness center, outdoor poor and BBQ area. There will also be a 30,000 square foot event center that can be used for conferences, concerts, or MMA. In addition, the casino will have 2,000 slot machines and 84 gaming tables.
“It’s more than just a casino. It’s an entertainment resort facility,” Hitchcock said.
The tribe previously worked to develop a casino outside of Galt, Ca., on 282-acres of property next to Highway 99. The Galt site, however, would have required the tribe to build a $30 million highway overpass. The Elk Grove mall location already has all the necessary infrastructure.
“Elk Grove obviously raced to the top because of the infrastructure that’s already there,” Hitchcock stated.
However, there are some concerns about bringing in a 24-hour resort, traffic and crime.
“When you bring a lot of people to specific area say an outlet mall or something like that, you know more people means more crime more petty crime. But we’re gonna have the highest of surveillance ,” Hitchcock said.
Meanwhile, for some in the community, those concerns are manageable.
“I’m hoping they can deal with the traffic that’s my only biggest concern is the amount of traffic it’s gonna cause, but other than that, bring it on!,” Churchill said.
“There will probably be a little bit of bad at first just cuz it’s something new. But once they get the kinks out of it, I think it’ll definitely be good for this are,” Bahrat added.
Still, it’s a long road ahead for a brand new casino. Hitchcock is confident he’ll see the project come to life, but it could still be another 3 to 5 years before any construction starts.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs still gets final approval. If everything goes according to plan, doors are projected to open in 2021.
The Wilton Rancheria plans to hold a town-hall style meeting to unveil the renderings of what the potential casino will look like something in the next few weeks.