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Destination Northern Quest?

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians plans to transform Northern Quest Casino into more of a destination resort with a hotel, enlarged casino, theater and added convention and meeting space.

The project, which is broader in scope than the details that are available through planning documents, will create an estimated 500 construction jobs and 420 permanent jobs, a representative of the Tribe confirmed.

Tribal spokeswoman April Pierre said the organization isn’t ready to divulge details because some stakeholders haven’t been updated.

However, documents submitted to Spokane County confirm that the project would greatly enlarge the complex. A story posted on the TribalNet newsletter quoted Northern Quest IT Director Brent Wilcox as saying that a hotel, auditorium, restaurants and convention and meeting space will be added, although the Tribe declined to confirm those details.

TribalNet’s mission is to help tribes make well-informed decisions regarding the use of technology in their organizations, the Web site said, and the piece gave a tentative opening date for the expansion of 2009.

Mark D’Agostino, owner of Meridian Construction Management of Spokane, the company managing the construction of the project, said that Kansas City, Mo.-based JE Dunn Construction Co. is the contractor. The architect, the Hnedak Bobo Group Inc. of Memphis, Tenn., has extensive expertise in designing casinos, he said.

“This is a really exciting project. We’ve been working with the tribe for the past seven years,” said D’Agostino, who also declined to provide additional details.

Although tribes aren’t required to contact local government for plan reviews or building permits when a project is slated for reservation or trust land, the Kalispels contracted with Spokane County to ensure that two of its planned buildings meet code and to review conceptual drawings.

Conceptual drawings, which provide an overview of what the project could entail but lack specific details, show the theater, hotel offices and two parking garages. The drawings also reflect an expansion of the casino, but don’t show how much casino space would be added or what specifically the extra room would accommodate.

Construction drawings submitted for two individual buildings show a 43,317-square-foot building that is two stories tall with retail, office and potential conference room space. Another set of drawings show a six-level parking garage that could accommodate 1,442 vehicles.

Lee Bennet, interim city manager for Airway Heights, said tribal representatives met with city officials to share some details about the project proposed within the city last Friday.

“We haven’t formally sat down to talk about sewer and water (services) yet,” Bennet said.

The Kalispels are competing with a casino that the Spokane Tribe of Indians plans for 145 acres just west of Airway Heights. The Spokanes recently received state approval for their gaming operation. Plans for that complex include a 200-bed hotel and a 2,000-seat concert hall with a casino.

The Kalispels’ casino complex is on 40 acres, but the tribe purchased an additional 253 acres of undeveloped property in 2002. Northern Quest Casino currently operates more than 1,200 video lottery terminals and 30 game tables, its Web site said.

A ground breaking ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday on the north side of the casino, at N. 100 Hayford Road in Airway Heights.


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