ROHNERT PARK -- Station Casinos recently unveiled early drawings of the forthcoming Graton Resort & Casino, offering a glimpse of what the $800 million project will look like upon completion of construction.
The 3,000-slot casino is taking shape rapidly, with construction expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, which will operate the casino for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, said the style of the casino was best described as “casual contemporary elegance."
Construction began in mid 2012 and has accelerated recently, with the casino portion of the project at about 50 percent completion. A 200-room hotel is planned, but construction on that element has not yet begun. Officials said they are still determining when that might start, although no determination has been made. Upon completion, the 320,000-square-foot facility is expected to draw visitors from the Bay Area and beyond, officials have said.
Backers of the project say the forthcoming casino will generate some 2,000 full-time jobs upon opening, while employing some 700 union construction workers through the building phase through a project labor agreement.
But it still faces opposition from the Stop the Casino 101 Coalition, a group of residents who maintain the location is ill-suited for such a large project. The group has filed two lawsuits in attempting to block the project, one against the city of Rohnert Park for not conducting an environmental impact review for the proposed widening of Wilfred Avenue, where the main entrance will be. The city of Rohnert Park recently authorized the use of eminent domain to purchase and condemn properties along Wilfred Avenue, which will likely result in the street's widening.
The other lawsuit is against the state, challenging the validity of the Graton Rancheria compact approved by Gov. Jerry Brown, charging that he lacked the proper authority to enter into a compact with the tribe for a Class III casino. The coalition maintains that the state legislature must cede sovereignty over the land to the federal government with a vote.
Meanwhile, the tribe and Station Casinos have pressed on, unveiling renderings and rolling out a new website, www.GratonResortCasino.com, which is intended to provide information about the resort.
Station Casinos said that as the opening draws nearer, details will emerge on employment opportunities and other information. It will hold job fairs later this year. Those interested should check the new website periodically for updates. The casino is also offering a free dealer school for candidates over 21 years old.