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TUCSON-Construction on the second phase for what will be the largest Indian casino in the state is set to begin in the near term, pending resolution of some internal issues.

The pending groundbreaking for the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe’s Casino of the Sun is coming within months of completion of the first phase, a 70,000-sf casino and 4,200-seat amphitheater. The new casino is going up at 7406 S. Camino de Oeste, just southwest of downtown Tucson.

The second wave of construction had been set to begin right away, but internal issues stood in the way, says Sandy Werthman, a principal with Phoenix-based Kitchell Contractors, which is developing the project on a design-build basis. She tells GlobeSt.com that the delay results from some members of the tribe objecting to the size of the development. The issue should be resolved within the next few weeks and then construction can resume.

The first phase of Casino of the Sun lays the groundwork for an entertainment and casino complex that will have nearly 250,000 sf of gambling, seven restaurants, 36-lane bowling alley, hotel and golf course. When fully built out, the casino and entertainment complex will offer a number of themed restaurants, lounge and bar and a variety of non-gaming diversions, providing sports, nightclub and arcade facilities for serious gamblers and families. The second construction round totals 172,000 sf and includes the restaurants, bowling alley conversion, child care center and arcade.

After Phase II of Casino of the Sun opens, which is expected by October 2002, the main core of the first building will be renovated to house the 36-lane Bowling Center. An 18-hole championship golf course and hotel will comprise the project’s third phase, which would come in early 2003. The Phoenix office of Leo Daly is the project architect.

The tribe continues to operate a 50,000-sf casino, which had been built in 1989, just down the street from the new development. That facility is expected to close when the second phase delivers.

Kitchell Contractors has worked with a number of Indian communities in Arizona, Nevada and California on casino projects, as well as other commercial development projects. The company recently completed the Cliff Castle Casino project for the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde, AZ; the Paiute Resort Clubhouse for the Paiute Indian Community in Las Vegas; and four phases of Chaparral Business Center in Scottsdale, AZ, a 25-acre business park for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

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