The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 26, 2013

Alabama casino construction nearing completion

— WETUMPKA, Ala. (AP) — Early next year, residents and visitors of Wetumpka not only will be able to gaze at a towering hotel standing tall over the city's downtown area, they will be able to stay there.

Wind Creek Wetumpka, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians' $246 million hotel and casino, is on schedule to be completed in early 2014. The construction of the new facility, which began about a year ago, has been a can't-miss sight from spots such as the Bibb Graves Bridge and U.S. 231.

General Manager Cody Williamson said the outer shell of the 20-story hotel is "pretty much completed," with inner fixtures such as Sheetrock and windows currently going in at the site off U.S. 231 about nine miles northeast of Montgomery in Elmore County.

"And even when you're finished with that, there's still the load-in of items like tables, chairs and clocks," Williamson said. "That takes a lot of time, especially when you get into hotels. Faucets, sinks, showers — it just takes a long time."

While finishing touches still are being put on the hotel, which has an estimated February or March opening, Williamson said the casino will be open much sooner.

"We know we wanted to have the casino floor open by the end of the year," Williamson said. "That's a goal that we had, and we seem to be on track with that."

He explained that the casino can be opened before the hotel because it sits separate from the hotel. There's an entrance hub connecting the two and serving as a gateway to either destination.

A recent walking tour of the casino floor showed workers installing lights and painting walls. Williamson pointed out areas that will be used for dining and the spot in the middle of the room where an aquarium will sit. The 90,000-square-foot gaming floor will feature more than 2,500 electronic gambling machines, compared with about 900 available at Creek Casino Wetumpka, the site's current facility.

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