FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The demolition on 36 acres of Tribal Land in Elk Grove marks
the beginning of the end to the grim reminder
of the economic crash of 2008. Wilton Rancheria looks forward to the project’s next phase and eventual groundbreaking.
ELK GROVE, CA— FEB. 1
—Wilton Rancheria today began demolishing unfinished steel and concrete structures on the site of its future resort and casino, as site preparation work continues on the tribe’s 36-acre parcel in Elk Grove.
“Today marks the beginning of the end to the Ghost Mall structures that have blighted our community for more than a decade,” said Raymond C. Hitchcock, Chairman of Wilton Rancheria. “We are proud to be taking steps to remove the grim reminder of a dark time in our economic history, and we look forward to the next phase of our project and our eventual groundbreaking.”
“It has been 11 years since construction stopped on the infamous ‘ghost mall’ that is an eye sore in our community,” said Dr. Richard Pan, State Senator and pediatrician. “It is time for the people of Elk Grove to have a better future for this space.”
“For far too long the people of Elk Grove have waited for development to begin on the site of the ghost mall,” said Assemblymember Jim Cooper. “I am elated to finally see progress being made and am thrilled for the Wilton Rancheria to begin building their exciting project. Now that demolition has begun on this longstanding blighted property I am hopeful the residents of Elk Grove will finally get the quality retail destination they deserve.”
“It’s been a long wait to begin to remove the blight caused by Howard Hughes’ failed ghost mall,” said Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly. “We thank Wilton Rancheria for taking the initiative and congratulate them on achieving another milestone in their project, which will bring jobs and revenue to Elk Grove for years to come.”
The structures were originally part of a planned high-end retail mall to be built adjacent to Hwy. 99 in Elk Grove by General Growth Properties, which went bankrupt during construction in late 2007. Howard Hughes Corp. purchased the 99 acres in 2013 and proposed a 63-acre mall called the Outlet Collection at the southern end of the parcel. Wilton Rancheria purchased the northern 36-acre parcel from HHC in 2016. HHC is currently evaluating new options for the remainder of the site, including developing or selling the property.
“Our project has never hinged on what Hughes ultimately does with its property,” said Chairman Hitchcock. “But the zombie mall has been an eyesore for more than 10 years and the people of Elk Grove deserve a first-class development to accompany our first-class resort. Like everyone else in Elk Grove, we look forward to seeing what the future holds for the site – and we hope to see it soon.”
Wilton Rancheria’s resort and casino project will create thousands of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the City of Elk Grove and Sacramento County, and the opportunity for the Tribe to finally achieve self-sufficiency.
The 36 acres in Elk Grove were taken into trust on behalf of Wilton Rancheria in February 2017 by the U.S. Department of the Interior. In July 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown and Chairman Hitchcock signed a Tribal/State Gaming Compact, which was ratified unanimously by the State Senate and Assembly in September. The following January, the Department of the Interior published in the Federal Register notice of its approval of the gaming compact.
Then last October, the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) signed and approved the management agreement between Wilton Rancheria and Boyd Gaming to build the resort and casino on the Tribe’s trust land. This approval followed adoption of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs’ 2016 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), a lengthy and thorough process that spanned several years with extensive public input.
Wilton Rancheria’s tribal status was terminated in 1958, and the Tribe was finally restored, without land, in 2009, after a long-fought campaign by tribal elders. Wilton Rancheria is the only federally recognized tribe in Sacramento County. In November 2011, the Tribe adopted its modern Constitution, and since that time, tribal leadership has worked to improve the lives of its members and positively serve the community from its offices in Elk Grove.
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