PENDLETON, Ore. - The Wildhorse Resort and Casino has delayed an $85 million expansion project after labor costs were higher than anticipated.
The project would bring a family entertainment center to the resort including a bowling alley, a food court and renovations to the cineplex. A 10-story hotel and event center would also be built to hold concerts. The massive project was set to be completed in spring but contract negotiations are still underway.
The chief executive officer of the casino, Gary George, told KAPP-KVEW contractors are in high demand in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.
"With the school bonds happening in the Tri-Cities, the Prosser high school project and big data centers coming our way," George said, "contractors can raise their rates for bigger projects".
A Kennewick School District bond passed which will create a new elementary school and renovations on other schools. The Prosser School District started construction in April on a new high school building. Google and Amazon are planning to open data centers in the area this year.
The casino received several budget proposals from construction companies, all exceeding the original budgeted $85 million. The budget accepted was from Lydig Construction for $104 million.
Casino officials are now looking at solutions to the labor scarcity.
"I am advising the board to go with a two package plan to complete the project," George said.
Negotiations are still being made but one proposed plan is to split the expansion into two smaller projects.
First, attempt to build the one-story family entertainment center. This would be the smaller of the two packages and is expected to cost around $30 million.
The second package would complete the ten-story hotel and event center. Officials are still looking at reductions or changes to the project. More workers and money would be allocated to this project because of its size.
George says he hopes this solution will allow the family entertainment center to be completed between May and June. By cutting the number of workers needed at first.
"With the current plans, we need around 250 to 350 workers. If we split up the project and do the smaller one first," George said, "then we don't need as many workers and it gives us time to make reductions to the hotel and event center."
George says he is advocating for the two-package plan but the board of trustees has not voted yet.