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TEMECULA, CA-Phoenix-based Perini Building Co. is on target to meet a fall 2002 delivery for the first four-star, perhaps even five-star, tribal project in the nation, Dick Rizzo, Perini president, tells GlobeSt.com.

The project basically has been kept under wraps although construction got under way on a minimal basis in fall 2000. Rizzo says all was kept “at a slow pace until the financing package was in place” for the $252-million Pechanga Entertainment Center, being developed by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.

Perini’s share is a $175-million contract to build a 560,000-sf hotel-casino and conference center with a 1,200-seat performing arts theater, retail space, intimate show lounge, bingo hall and seven restaurants. Perini also is constructing a complementary 13-story, 522-room hotel that will house a lounge and meeting room. The $252-million project is being phased in over five years.

Rizzo tells GlobeSt.com that there will be 700 workers assigned to the project at its peak construction period. There are 200 on site now. The project is Perini’s first hotel and casino project in California.

The tribe is targeting big ticket spenders looking for a destination resort instead of the more moderate players found in the atypical tribal casinos, according to Rizzo. Since 1995, the tribe has operated a 75,000 sf casino and concert pavilion on its 4,500 reservation situated off Interstate 15 betweenRiverside and San Diego.

“This is truly an example of the opportunities now available to tribal nations in California created through our successful efforts with Propositions 5 and 1A,” says Mark A. Macarro, the tribe’s chairman.

The project has been designed as a resort destination “to last for generations,” according to Perini. For example, the hotel tower is clad in concrete panels to simulate large stone blocks and interiors make use ofnatural materials. “It reflects the surrounding landscape as well as many of the important elements of the tribe’s history,” says Tony Meyer, Perini’s project manager. The architect is Delawie, Wilkes, Rodrigues, Barker Inc.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Prairie” design of the 1920s and 1930s is evident in Pechanga’s architecture. Upscale and comfortable are the words being used to describe the environment. But, says architect Mark Mills, it’s not typical hospitality and casino style. “Pechanga is not meant to be flamboyant,” he emphasizes.

“Rather, it is subtle and reflects aspects that are sacred to the Pechanga Tribe.” Those aspects include abstractions of tree and plant forms amid interiors of geometric motifs. Exteriors will be painted in warm colors of light gold, beige and brown coupled with patterns indicative of the Pechanga Tribe.

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