Perseverance, defined as persistence in the face of difficulty, is the engine keeps hope alive and drives progress. One instance in which perseverance should reign is during hardships, be it in the form of an economic downturn, where loses and desperation take center stage; or in the form of problems affecting a people, where they suffer for reasons that could vary in depth and form. Such is the case of The Wilton Rancheria, a tribe whose recognition as such was terminated in 1958 under the California Rancheria Act, an Indian termination policy; and The Outlet Collection shopping center of Elk Grove, California, which has carried the burden put upon it by the recent economic downturn. For both of these perseverance has paid off, as they have not let hardship take the better of them. These have crossed each other’s paths for a project which will benefit, not only themselves, but all of those around them.
The Wilton Rancheria, a federally recognized Native American tribe of Miwok people, announced Thursday that it is looking to build a $400 million to $500 million casino, hotel and convention center at The Outlet Collection shopping center complex in Elk Grove. The center has been partially-completed and dormant for 10 years, is located on Highway 99 and owned by Howard Hughes Corp.
The tribe has signed an option to buy 35.9 acres, but it is not disclosing the total cost of the purchase. In order for the proposed project to fit that area, the construction of a four-story parking garage will be required. The casino will include 110,260 square feet fitted with 2,000 slot machines and table games, multiple restaurants, and a 12-story hotel with 302 rooms, a spa, fitness center, and one of the region’s largest convention centers. This will be a major attraction which will bring consumers from other areas, an important factor for the economic growth of the sector. It will complement all the other mechanisms that stimulate the economy.
The project is in the federal environmental review process, with a final impact report expected to be released in July; and town hall meetings to be held in the future in order to present the plans, collect feedback and answer questions. With timely approvals, construction would begin in January.
The proposed hotel, dining, shopping and entertainment resort will be adjacent to the planned Outlet Collection at Elk Grove and, together, they will become a powerful engine for economic growth in a sector and on property that has been a reminder of difficult economic times.
The project as a whole will be a major source of employment; starting from its construction, which is an extended time endeavor, to the many people it will employ upon opening for business. Combined with the mentioned tourism, which will have visitors from other areas spend their money in the local economy, the project will become a resource powerhouse and will bring much needed additional prosperity to the area.
The tribe previously worked to develop outside of Galt, on 282 acres of farmland next to Highway 99, which would have required the tribe to build a $30 million highway overpass. The new location, however, is already developed with all the necessary infrastructure such as: roads, power and sewer service for a major traffic attraction. The cost of development would be similar at either location, but in Elk Grove the project could be completed sooner.
The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove is visible from Highway 99 on the southeastern edge of the city near Kammerer Road, and was partially built by a previous developer before the financial crisis of 2008 halted progress. Since then, the complex has remained vacant and unfinished. Its owner, Howard Hughes Corp., has said it will not complete development of the mall until the tenants commit to leasing at least 50 percent of the property. The casino does not count toward that percentage. Upon finishing it, the center will include shopping and movie theaters, that will occupy the remaining portion of the parcel.
The combination of The Wilton Rancheria and The Outlet Collection is a strategic alliance made in heaven. Costs and risks are reduced, and benefits are more probable by each party providing what the other needs, as well as each functioning as a risk cushion for the other.
The Wilton Rancheria hotel and convention center, partnered with The Outlet Collection complex exemplify what can be accomplished with perseverance. Elk Grove will be able to take advantage of it dormant property and The Wilton Rancheria will assist that process while doing business themselves.