The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 26, 2013

Alabama casino construction nearing completion


Williamson said that eventually the front part of the current casino will be torn down, but the larger back part will be kept as an events center.

During a recent tour of the hotel, Williamson pointed out an area where a pool will be built about October. The resort is expected to include about 285 rooms and suites, a fine dining restaurant, a grill, a coffee shop, a snack bar and a buffet with seating overlooking the river. There also will be entertainment rooms suitable for large parties and corporate events.

Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis said the city's preparation for the hotel and casino has "gone well." The city and Poarch Creeks are working together so they'll be ready for any possible snag that might accompany the opening.

"We have communication lines open with them. We keep them posted, and they do the same for us," Willis said. "All in all, it's been pretty smooth."

Both the city and the Elmore County Commission in March funded an economic impact study to look at the overall effect the gaming center has had and will have on the surrounding area. The study has since been completed, but city and county officials said they could not provide the Montgomery Advertiser with a copy.

City Attorney Regina Edwards said the results of the study are being used in a negotiation between PCI and both the city and county for future services.

The study was commissioned to determine the additional costs the city and county might incur because of the expansion.

The current Creek Casino Wetumpka includes property that sits on trust land, a term used for land owned by an Indian tribe. The trust land in this case is owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and is not subject to taxes by any other government. Wind Creek Wetumpka also will sit on trust land.

The only portion of the current facility that sits on fee simple land — land that produces ad valorem taxes — is the parking deck. Williamson said the parking deck also is undergoing an expansion and will be upgraded from 500 parking spots to 2,500.

Williamson said the casino and hotel are expected to bring in 500 to 600 jobs with an increased payroll of $20 million.

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