Despite months of rough weather, ilani resort managers still aiming for mid-April opening of tribal casino near La Center

LA CENTER — Despite what has been one of the Pacific Northwest’s wettest winters on record (not to mention those back-to-back snow and ice storms in January), project managers for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s new ilani casino-resort say construction is “well over 80 percent complete” and that the casino’s planned mid-April opening is still in the cards.

Construction on the improvements at the La Center I-5 interchange are ongoing in preparation for the mid-April scheduled opening of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s ilani Casino. Photo by Mike Schultz
Construction on the improvements at the La Center I-5 interchange are ongoing in preparation for the mid-April scheduled opening of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s ilani Casino. Photo by Mike Schultz

“We’re in the home stretch,” says Pete Schultz, project manager for the Salishan-Mohegan, LLC, the Cowlitz tribe’s partner in the $510 million ilani casino-resort project, which is currently under construction on the Cowlitz Indian Reservation just west of the La Center exit off Interstate 5 (I-5). “Clearly, February was the wettest month ever … but we’re still holding on to the (mid-April opening date). We should know in about a week or so.”


Watch for traffic changes, flaggers near La Center Interstate 5 exit March 6-10

Drivers using the northbound off-ramp from Interstate 5 to La Center Road at Exit 16 should be prepared for flaggers and a temporary off-ramp this week. Road crews will be working on the I-5 Interchange at Exit 16 and will have flaggers guiding traffic to the temporary off-ramp from 4 to 6 p.m., Mon., March 6 through Fri., March 10.


The new casino will feature 100,000 square feet of gaming space, two entertainment venues, and 15 bars, restaurants and retail shops. Future plans at the Cowlitz Reservation site call for a convention center and hotel to complement the mega-casino.

On the ilani Facebook page, photos of slot machines and gaming tables inside the new casino started popping up about three weeks ago. The massive ilani sign went up the first week in March. When it opens, the casino is expected to have 75 gaming tables, five  high-stakes tables and nearly 2,600 slot machines. It will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Of course, it’s not just the casino building’s construction that affects ilani’s opening date. Schultz says there are really three construction projects to consider: the casino and its surrounding parking area; the nearby wastewater treatment facility that will serve the casino and future resort/hotel; and the I-5 interchange improvement project that will allow traffic to flow to and from the highway to the casino as well as the adjacent city of La Center.

Construction at the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s ilani Casino near La Center is “well over 80 percent complete’’ according to Project Manager Pete Schultz. The casino is expected to open in mid-April. A large sign was placed at the casino site just last week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Construction at the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s ilani Casino near La Center is “well over 80 percent complete’’ according to Project Manager Pete Schultz. The casino is expected to open in mid-April. A large sign was placed at the casino site just last week. Photo by Mike Schultz

 


More Info:

For more information about the ilani resort, visit the ilani website at ilaniresort.com, or read the following ClarkCountyToday.com coverage on the casino, wastewater treatment plant, the casino’s possible effects on nearby La Center, and the casino’s long history of legal battles:

La Center prepares for massive revenue shortfalls after casino opening
Published Sept. 30, 2016 by Kelly Moyer

Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s $510 million casino-resort project ‘on time and on budget’
Published Oct. 6, 2016 by Kelly Moyer

Cowlitz casino opponents push fight to U.S. Supreme Court
Published Nov. 10, 2016 by Kelly Moyer

Under pressure, city of La Center passes 2017 budget, preps for severe revenue shortfalls in years ahead
Published Nov. 23, 2016 by Kelly Moyer

Tribal casino hopes to fill 1,000 competitive-wage jobs
Published Dec. 27, 2016 by Kelly Moyer

Welcome to La Center? Welcome to the Cowlitz Indian Reservation? Tribe, city council debate roundabout signage
Published Jan. 5, 2017 by Kelly Moyer

With bond funding for sewer extension now secure, La Center’s plans for mixed-use ‘town center’ near interstate begin to gel
Published Jan. 26, 2017 by Kelly Moyer

 

The water reclamation plant, designed by Parametrix, Inc., an engineering firm that has completed several similar wastewater treatment plants throughout Washington State, relies on membrane technology to take wastewater back to drinking water standards before injecting the purified water 120 feet into the ground using a Class V injection well. A mid-April casino opening would mean that the wastewater treatment plant must also be up and running by that time.

Schultz cautions that, although the project is still on target for a mid-April opening, the weather over the past couple of months has made things more difficult for contractors. Paving in particular, he says, has been more challenging with the unrelenting February rains.

However, Schultz adds, the project does have one definite advantage: “We’re using local contractors (Portland-based Swinerton Builders), so they’re used to working in the Northwestern environment.”

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About The Author

Kelly Moyer has been reporting for community newspapers since the mid-1990s, including the Newport News-Times on the Oregon Coast; the Lewistown Sentinel, a daily newspaper in central Pennsylvania; the Gresham Outlook, Wilsonville Spokesman, Sherwood Gazette and South County Spotlight newspapers in the Portland metro area; and The Reflector newspaper in Battle Ground, Wash. She also is the former managing editor of Midwifery Today, an international magazine for birth professionals. Kelly, a University of Oregon alumnus and Pennsylvania native, lives with her family in Northeast Portland.

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