To the beating of drums and chanting of sacred songs, the Muckleshoot Tribe broke ground on its 18-story, 400-room, luxury hotel tower on Thursday afternoon, the first major addition to its casino since the gaming establishment opened 24 years ago at 2402 Auburn Way S.
When the Muckleshoot Casino Resort opens for business in the second quarter of 2021, it will be the largest of its kind in Washington state, besting Tulalip, which today, at 12 stories and with 370 rooms, is the biggest casino and casino resort hotel in the state.
“My fondest hope is that people see Muckleshoot Casino Resort as a place to come to, a regional destination, a drop-off point, a jump-off point to Mount Rainier or things in South King County,” Conrad Granito, general manager of the Mucklehoot Casino, said after the ceremony.
The project, which will add about 20,000 square feet of gaming space capped by a rooftop restaurant, is one part of a significant casino upgrade and expansion the tribe announced in February, encompassing a new, overall floor plan, expanded food options, a 25,000-square-foot events center and a bigger smoke-free area.
“We want people to say, ‘Hey, I’ve come to Seattle, let’s go to Muckleshoot.’ So I think with the hotel, the events center, and with the different amenities that we’re going to have, I think that opportunity’s there,” Granito said.
Tribe and casino officials would not discuss the cost of the project, but in May acknowledged that the enhanced casino and resort hotel reflect the tribe’s need to respond “guest demand” and “a widening customer base,” perhaps with an eye on the Tulalip Tribe’s $140 million QuilCeda Creek Casino and 150-room hotel, which is under construction.
And what’s next?
“We’ve got a couple big pieces on the board now, and the challenge in any type of renovation always is how do things make sense, how do they fit with the real estate we have?” Granito said. “You can see the progress in the level of finish of the casino floor, which is now being totally renovated, like everything else in the current casino. The events center comes on line first, then the new food court, and then the hotel itself. So, yes, we’ve got a few areas we could make some enhancements beyond that, but let’s see what the market tells us.”