Business & Real Estate

Thunder Valley casino to expand hotel in $40 million project

Thunder Valley will add 111 hotel rooms, completing a project that was left partially unfinished in 2010.
Thunder Valley will add 111 hotel rooms, completing a project that was left partially unfinished in 2010.

When Thunder Valley Casino Resort opened its hotel in 2010, it represented one of the largest construction projects completed in the Sacramento area during the recession.

The Indian tribe that owns Thunder Valley hedged its bet, however, leaving three floors unfinished as an acknowledgment of tough economic times.

On Wednesday, the casino announced it will build out those floors, adding 111 rooms to the property, in a signal of the resort’s continued prosperity.

Doug Elmets, a spokesman for the Lincoln-area casino, said Thunder Valley also plans to renovate the hotel’s existing 297 rooms. The total project is budgeted at $40 million.

The project comes amid growing competition from other tribal casinos, including the $800 million Graton Rancheria megacasino that opened in Rohnert Park two years ago. The Wilton Rancheria tribe is proposing to build a casino in Elk Grove or Galt, in what would become the first tribal casino in Sacramento County.

Elmets said Thunder Valley’s business actually has improved since the Graton facility opened.

“Business is outstanding and is reflective of … our ability to market Thunder Valley as a destination resort, which makes hotel rooms obviously more attractive,” he said. Thunder Valley is owned by the United Auburn Indian Community.

The tribe originally envisioned a 23-story tower with 624 rooms. The recession prompted a six-month halt in construction and a downsizing of the project. When the hotel opened in June 2010, with 17 floors, the tribe left three of the floors unfinished.

Elmets said the expansion project means those floors – the third, fifth and sixth –will be completed.

Dawn Clayton, Thunder Valley’s general manager, said the project should take about 18 months. Flint Builders of Roseville will handle construction; architectural firm YWS Design & Architecture of Las Vegas handled the interior design work.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler