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CABAZON, CA-The Morongo Band of Mission Indians broke ground yesterday for its $250-million Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, which will include a 23-story hotel that will be one of the tallest buildings in the Inland Empire.

Designed by the Jerde Partnership of Los Angeles with Thalden Boyd Architects of Las Vegas as executive architect, the 660,000-sf project along the Interstate 10 Freeway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs will be nearly four times as large as the existing casino operated by the tribe. Perini Building Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Framingham, MA-based Perini Corp., has the construction contract for the development.

The new casino and hotel will include theme restaurants, a nightclub, family attractions, and other facilities surrounding the casino. The 23-story hotel, located just off the casino floor, will feature a rooftop lounge, 272 standard rooms and 32 suites offering views of the mountains and desert valley. The resort will include a walk-in beach pool with a lazy river, six private luxury casitas and a 1,700-space parking garage.

When complete, Morongo will be one of the largest recreational gaming destinations on the West Coast. Slated to open in late 2004, the project will be adjacent to the Desert Hills Outlet Center and local landmark Hadley Fruit Orchards.

Jerde Partnership officials says the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa ground-breaking comes amid a trend by Indian tribal governments across the country to provide world-class resorts that appeal to a broader range of travelers in the highly competitive hospitality industry. The resort will aim to appeal to the more than 10 million visitors already traveling to the area each year, as well as others expected to be drawn to the region by the completion of the new casino and hotel.

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