WAYLAND — Gun Lake Casino today officially broke ground on its $300 million expansion, which will include a 15-story hotel and a multipurpose Aquadome pool area that will also double as a nightlife venue.
casino and Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of the Pottawatomi Indiansor Gun Lake tribeToday, executives held a groundbreaking ceremony at Gun Lake Casino in Wayland and unveiled more details about the massive project, which was first announced in April 2021.
“This expansion will herald the transformation of Gun Lake Casino into a Gun Lake Casino Resort,” said Sal Semola, CEO of Gun Lake Casino. “With our growing variety of entertainment options designed to expand our geographic reach, this will result in significant economic benefits across the region. The highlight will be a truly unique and eclectic venue that we call the Aquadome. This venue is sure to become a must-see attraction for everyone.”
The project will be the largest expansion of the casino to date and will complement the west side of the facility. The resort portion of the project will include multiple pools in a six-story, 32,000-square-foot Aquadome area that can be converted into a concert hall. The facility includes three pools, a swim-up bar, live palm trees and an entertainment stage with a capacity for events of up to 2,400 people.
The 15-storey hotel part of the extension will have 252 rooms, including 30 suites. The top two floors of the hotel will house a two-story suite with a unique living area featuring a grand staircase, double-height window and residential elevator. A full service bar, pool table and large upstairs bar with indoor and outdoor seating are also part of the suite.
Also part of the project is the Sandhill Cafe, a 137-seat three-meal restaurant with a flexible layout.
“We are excited to take the next steps to not only expand what Gun Lake Casino has to offer, but also our career opportunities for those in the surrounding communities,” said Bob Peters, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe, in a statement. “We are committed to continuously investing in the future of the tribe, the community and our current and future team members.”
Clark Construction Co. is the general contractor for the project, which is expected to be completed by March 2025. Based in Memphis, Tennessee HBG design acts as project architect.
The project will make a “significant contribution” to the economic development of the Grand Rapids and Southwest Michigan regions, said Allen Blower, senior vice president of Clark Construction. On average, about 200 people will work on the project every day, with more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs being created before completion, he said.
Tribal and casino officials estimate the project will have an economic impact of $650 million.
“This expansion will not be the last,” Semola said Thursday. “I can’t tell you what’s in store for us in the future, all I can tell you is that the best is yet to come.”
The casino has expanded several times since it opened in 2011. A recently completed 72,000 square foot, $100 million expansion added 450 slot machines, 12 new table games and a larger non-smoking area inside the casino. The expansion also added more capacity for the casino’s entertainment venue and additional fine dining.
Taking on such a large construction project during the construction supply chain and labor shortage is “an incredible challenge,” Semola said.
“None of us have experienced anything like what we’re seeing today, whether it’s rising material costs or a delayed material schedule. We need to look at our schedule differently in terms of when we bring in and order materials and equipment to ensure we have enough time,” Semola said. “It remains volatile and we continue to monitor it. Every day we look at prices and what is going on in the global economy.”
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