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Kalispel tribe announces major casino expansion 7-07

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. (AP) - The Kalispel tribe has announced plans to dramatically expand its Northern Quest Casino into a destination resort.

The $275 million expansion will add a 350-room hotel with a nine-story glass atrium featuring indoor waterfalls, the tribe said Monday.

Kent Caputo, chief operating officer for the tribe's economic enterprises, said the cainso will be nearly three times the size of the existing gaming operation, and there will be a 2,300-seat event hall, a 10,000-square-foot luxury spa with a pool, and a six-story parking garage.

The Kalispels expect to hire 420 more full- and part-time employees, making it one of the region's largest employers, with 1,500 workers.

The tribe has 393 enrolled members and a reservation in Usk, Wash., north of Spokane.

It's the second casino resort announced for the West Plains area near the Spokane airport.

The Spokane Tribe announced plans a year ago to build a $130 million casino with a hotel and concert house just west of Airway Heights. The Spokane Tribe recently received state approval for a hotel with gaming operations on 145 acres it owns there.

The Spokane Tribe could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Curt Holmes, executive director of public affairs for the Kalispels, said the project is part of an ongoing vision and isn't about competing with the Spokane Tribe.

“We're not looking at this as competition,” said Holmes. “We've had the master plan and vision of this from day one.”

The tribe will finance the project, and construction will get under way immediately, with the resort expected to open in 2010.

An estimated 500 construction workers will be hired for the expansion, representatives said. Kansas City, Mo.-based JE Dunn Construction is the contractor.

The Kalispels hired Hnedak Bobo Group Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., an architectural firm specializing in high-end resorts and casinos.

The project will be built on 40 acres of land that houses the existing Northern Quest Casino, which will become a conference facility when the new casino opens.

The Kalispels also own an additional 250 acres. April Pierre, communications manager for the tribe, said planning for that land will start sometime in the future.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesmanreview.com
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