SEQUIM — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s long-awaited resort and casino expansion at 7 Cedars Casino is right around the corner.
The ground-breaking for the first phase of a $40 million project on the tribe’s main Blyn campus is set for Feb. 4, according to W. Ron Allen, Tribal Council chairman and CEO, who spoke to a packed Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce crowd at the Guy Cole Convention Center in Sequim on Tuesday afternoon.
Allen provided details of the project, which is expected to see a grand opening by the spring of 2020, he said.
“This thing is going to move fast,” he told the crowd of more than 70.
The first of a three-phase project, Allen said, includes 100 rooms of an overall expansion that enlarges to the casino’s west side. It’s a five-story resort with each floor featuring a different element — water, land, trees and sky — with mini, executive and business suites to go along with standard rooms.
The bottom floor will house a large lobby, coffee bar and administrative offices, plus conference, meeting and banquet spaces.
“This is going to reflect a four-star, four-diamond property,” Allen said.
“We’re referring to this as a gateway to the Olympic Peninsula.”
The idea of the overall design, he said, is to combine new technology with the tribe’s cultural themes.
“We want it to reflect Jamestown’s cultural motif,” he said.
Second and third phases, Allen noted, will add 200 more rooms plus large conference spaces, parking garage, events center and more.
Allen said the tribe has received significant interest from Canadian casino users who would like to frequent 7 Cedars Casino; but “they want to stay on the property,” he said, rather than stay in Sequim hotels.
The tribe’s resort and Sequim hospitality businesses will be different enough, he said, to complement each other, with some casino users not interested in paying higher resort prices.
The project was originally slated to begin in 2008, but tribe officials determined that a delay was needed due to the national financial downturn at that time, Cedars Resort CEO Jerry Allen said in a previous interview.
The expansion should increase the casino staff of about 450 to about 550, Ron Allen said.
“We’re very aware of what’s available in Sequim [in terms of housing],” Allen said, so Jamestown S’Klallam officials are looking at options for affordable housing.
While some tribal employees live in Port Angeles and Jefferson County, Allen said, “our employees don’t want to drive a long ways.”
Swinerton — a San Francisco, Calif.-based construction company with offices in Bellevue — is the main contractor for the overall project, but Allen said he hopes to use as many local sub-contractors and services as possible.
He said the tribe has cleared about 5 acres of forested land for additional parking. The trees have been repurposed as woody debris in Peninsula rivers for salmon habitat.
“It’s a win-win,” Allen said.
When construction begins this year on the resort project, the tribe also will begin building a connection to the city of Sequim’s wastewater treatment plant.
“That was a great deal for them and a great deal for us,” Allen said.
The Blyn Tribal Campus is expected to connect to the system in late fall of 2019.
The tribe is closing in on the completion of a $2 million, 5,000-square-foot Public Safety and Justice Center on Sophus Road near the Longhouse Market & Deli. The center will house a tribal courtroom, classroom, conference room and pop-up emergency operations center, Chief Operating Officer Annette Nesse said in a previous interview.
The facility, which broke ground in May and is set to be completed in about three months, will have space for the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Allen said.
“We want them on our campus out on the east end,” he said. “That’s a great relationship and project for us.”
The tribe is also reviving its oyster farm in Dungeness Bay that was closed in 2005, according to county records, following test results of deteriorating water quality. In addition, the tribe has purchased 60 acres for oyster farming in Dabob Bay, Allen said.
The tribe is looking at a possible retail outlet for its seafood industry, Allen said.
“In order to become self-reliant, we rely on our businesses,” he said.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].