Casino events

The future ilani casino luxury hotel brings optimism to nearby towns

Although only half-built, a grand, shiny hotel on the Cowlitz Indian Reservation promises to attract more visitors for area neighbors.

An array of southwest Washington officials, entrepreneurs and casino enthusiasts attended an update Monday on the 14-story, nearly 300-room hotel slated to open in 2023.

“It creates a welcoming option that we don’t have here in northern Clark County,” said Jennifer Lindsay, mayor of nearby Ridgefield. “This is a great opportunity for the city to stimulate economic growth.

The event also served to celebrate the casino’s fifth anniversary. The hotel – currently a glass and concrete construction site – served as the backdrop for guest speakers, while around 100 people sat outside under the casino’s portico.

A drum circle performs on April 25, 2022 at Casino ilani, in front of a future 14-story hotel. Officials from nearby towns hope the new hotel will bring more economic growth to the area.

Troy Brynelson/OPB

Since opening in 2017, ilani has remodeled nearby towns. Ridgefield opened a $20 million multi-purpose sports complex in 2019, which also serves as the home base of a collegiate baseball team. Lindsay cited the resort as an example of an asset that could be boosted by a neighboring hotel.

“It now gives us the ability to host larger regional events, tournaments and things like that, which we couldn’t really attract before,” Lindsay said.

The mayor said Ridgefield officials were already in talks with casino officials about strategies to encourage future hotel guests to explore outside of the massive gaming complex. She said the goal was to drive more foot traffic to local businesses.

“How can we encourage them to stay and play in northern Clark County?” Lindsay said. “I’m just trying to create opportunities for ilani’s guests to experience Ridgefield. So it ends up being positive for us. That’s how we think about it. »

It’s unclear how close Ridgefield can anticipate a windfall. Lindsay said the city hasn’t conducted any studies or predictions.

Once opened, the hotel aims to be a luxury stay. It’s billed as having indoor and outdoor pools, a top-floor restaurant, and services like a fitness center, spa, and salon. It’s a $30 million project, the Colombian newspaper reported in 2020.

“I think it’s a wonderful addition,” said Washington Rep. Larry Hoff, a Republican whose district encompasses the casino. “The hotel will bring additional businesses there.”

While Ridgefield officials could cite concrete examples of the casino’s recent growth, officials at nearby La Center are waiting for growth to come.

Since the casino’s arrival, the city’s card rooms – once a major source of tax revenue – have mostly closed. The city has also annexed properties up to the I-5 junction in hopes of shaping future economic growth there.

According to Councilman Thomas Strobehn, no substantial expansion has taken place on the La Center side of the freeway. A developer submitted plans for a four-acre plaza with a hotel, gas station, and restaurant, but this did not materialize.

“I would love to see it done,” Strobehn said. “Do I think they’ll make it?” Sure. There is money to be made there. And that will only help the town of La Center and the tribe itself.