Cherokee Nation officials announced Tuesday plans for a $170 million dining, entertainment and retail development in Tahlequah, as well as the eventual relocation of Cherokee Casino Tahlequah. The development will adjoin Cherokee Springs Golf Course, which the tribe purchased in 2012.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said, "This project allows us to enhance tourism and economic development for the Cherokee Nation and the city of Tahlequah. This development will create hundreds of new jobs for Cherokees and give us the opportunity to convert the existing casino into a bigger and better immersion school for our Cherokee youth."
The project is slated to span five years and be broken down into three phases. The first phase is establishing the infrastructure that creates access and provides the necessary utilities. Phase two is the construction of a new Cherokee Casino Tahlequah that will include a resort hotel, convention center and new golf clubhouse. The third phase is the creation of a retail strip, centering along Grand Boulevard, which will enhance the pedestrian and shopper experience. Overall, it is anticipated 1.3 million square feet of mixed use space will be developed at an estimated cost of $170 million.
Shawn Slaton, Cherokee Nation Businesses chief executive officer, said, "The creation of a new casino resort continues our efforts to be the industry leader in entertainment for northeast Oklahoma. This development will also create new shopping and dining opportunities not currently found in the Tahlequah market, which bolsters the local economy. The city has been very supportive, and we're grateful for the confidence they have in us to make this happen."
In December 2012, Cherokee Nation Businesses purchased what was then Cherry Springs Golf Course and 154.74 acres of land situated adjacent to the course. Cherokee Casino Tahlequah opened in 2004. It currently employs more than 150 employees and features more than 400 electronic games. The Cherokee Nation and its businesses currently employ more than 9,000 people and have an $1.3 billion impact on the state of Oklahoma.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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