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9:58 AM Mon, Dec. 17th

$40M casino is 18 months away: Tribe to poll customers prior to designing complex

Courtesy illustration

Courtesy illustration

PRESCOTT, Arizona - At a combination press conference and community meeting Saturday, the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe officially announced its plan to build a new casino-resort on 12 acres at the Highway 69-Yavpé Connector intersection, but the event generated more questions than answers.

The tribe will work with architectural and engineering firm Leo A. Daly Inc. to design and build the new, yet-unnamed casino, which will consolidate the tribe's current two casinos, Bucky's and the Yavapai Casino, Tribal General manager Rick Marcum said.

Groundbreaking on the anticipated $40 million project is slated for early fall, and construction will take about 18 months.

"There is a reason why you don't see any conceptual drawings up here," Luis Ochoa, tribal gaming attorney said. "Because we don't have any. That's where we're at."

"We don't know how large we're going to build this at this time," said Simon Fort, casino general manager. "We don't know if we're having an entertainment center, restaurants."

A press release said the resort would have 60 to 80 rooms and would be approximately 50,000 square feet.

"Our designer is going to design to the capability of what the community can handle," Fort said.

"We're currently in a survey stage. We're going to be sending out surveys to our customers, to the Phoenix market, (asking), 'What do you want in a casino?'" Fort said.

Frank Dumont, vice-president at Leo A. Daly, said architectural renderings would be available by late June, the first "shovel in the ground" would be in late fall, "and then we envision about a 14- to 16-month construction schedule."

The two existing casinos' future has yet to be determined, Peter Bourgois, tribal planner, said. "We don't have specific plans for the two locations yet," he said, but that moving Bucky's would allow for some expansion of the Prescott Resort.

The tribe will move their allotted 566 gaming machines into the new casino, Fort said.

In response to a member of the public's question about the future of the retailers located in the Frontier Village shopping center, which is also owned

by the tribe, Marcum said, "The management over at Frontier Village has expressed excitement about the project, because they feel it will further invigorate" the mall, which he noted, has added "a dozen or so businesses over the last couple years."

The tribe said a Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center study suggested that the economic impact of the project to the Prescott region would be $80 million over the next 18 months.

Just before the public event, the tribal representatives met in a closed-door meeting with residents of the neighboring Prescott Canyon Estates area to address concerns. Gia Koontz said she's worried property values could drop, and she's concerned about "the construction noise, dust, and disturbance to our lives" in the near future, and issues with traffic, lighting, and noise in the long-term.

"My concerns are that our quality of life will be very significantly diminished," she said.

Tribal President Ernest Jones sat quietly for most of the one-hour event, but at the end, he took the microphone.

"There may be a few naysayers," he said, "but it's all for the good of our community."

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