The Kalispel Tribe of Indians says it is considering revising the construction phases for a big planned resort and casino on the West Plains so it can open at least a portion of the projectnow expected to have a total cost of more than $500 millionabout a year from now.
Thats what were studying now with architects and engineering guys, says Kent Caputo, chief operating officer for the Kalispel Tribal Economic Authority, which is overseeing the project. Were hoping over the next couple of weeks to see how feasible it is to do that.
He adds, If it works, we really want to take advantage of it, get some of it open sooner, and let more people enjoy it.
The tribe earlier had said it expected to open the resort by 2010, or roughly two years from now. The discussions of changing the sequencing of construction have spawned rumors that the tribe might be scaling back the scope of the project, which it estimated last summer would cost about $275 million to develop. Caputo says, though, that such rumors are untrue, and he predicts, to the contrary, that the ultimate cost of the project will be far higher than the tribe originally estimated.
The publicly disseminated $275 million figure was largely a placeholder that doesnt include a planned 2,300-seat event center and some other portions of the complex, he says, adding that, The full project build-out is going to exceed half a billion (dollars).
Preliminary plans call for the resort to be a 660,000-square-foot world-class gaming and entertainment center that includes a large casino, 350-room twin-tower hotel, luxury spa, landscaped glass atrium, a large food court, and numerous other dining venues. Also planned are the 2,300-seat event center and a six-story parking structure. The tribe has estimated the project will create up to 500 construction jobs and eventually employ more than 1,500 people, several hundred more than it does now at its seven-year-old and twice-expanded Northern Quest Casino.
Work on the parking structure began last summer next to that casino. Kansas City, Mo.-based J.E. Dunn Construction Group Inc. is the general contractor for the project, and Meridian Construction Management Inc., of Spokane, is coordinating the work. National architectural firm Hnedak Bobo Group Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., is designing the project.
The casino is located at 100 N. Hayford Road, and sits on a small portion of nearly 300 acres of land the tribe has amassed over the last 11 years and that includes land fronting on both Hayford and U.S. 2.
Caputo says the tribe originally envisioned a construction plan under which work would be phased, but occur more simultaneously across the entire development.
The different approach now being mulled, he says, would focus construction first on the casino and dining spaces so those portions of the complex could open in about a year, followed quickly thereafter by construction of the hotel and spa.
One thing we heard initially is, Do we really have to wait two years to get into this, or can we do this in steps that make more sense? Thats what weve been looking at, Caputo says.
Potential revisions to the sequencing of the project also could affect phases of it that would be expected to open later, he says. In announcing the project, for example, the tribe said the hotel would have two 175-room towers, connected by the nine-story glass atrium. Caputo now says, however, that the tribe might opt to build a hotel tower first thats larger than one of those towers, and then add more rooms later.
Plans havent changed, though, for the casino. It still is expected to be almost three times larger than Northern Quests current gaming floor, Caputo says. Its expected to offer 2,000 slot machines, 50 table games, and 14 poker tables, plus a separate VIP gaming area.
I think the clearest thing to say is, the scope of this project is not changing, he adds. In a sense, were ultimately going to get to the same pie; its just in what order were going to get there.
Contact Kim Crompton at (509) 344-1263 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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