San Miguel Casino in Highland is poised to unveil its second multimillion dollar expansion plan this summer, opening two new gaming tables, one floor of expanded gambling room with over 1,000 more slot machines, an expanded food and beverage area and a new high-end salon. In addition, the Hotel del Coronado, one of the city’s most popular hotels, is scheduled to add over one hundred guest rooms to the venue. The hotel is undergoing an extensive remodeling project that will include the addition of an eight-story atrium featuring lofts and condos and an extension of the hotel to include a new nine-story hotel. Another hotel project in the works is the proposed renovation of the Comfort Inn, an ice cream restaurant that has been in business for more than one century.
In January, beat reporter Michael Lewis reported that plans for a second casino in northern California had been in the works for several months, according to sources. Santa Ana economic development officials had hoped to turn the former Brush Mountain Gold Rush town into a hot spot for gaming, but that idea fizzled out due to regulatory concerns, said Lewis. Now, he reported, “a new gambling facility will be coming to town later this year.” This means that another hole in the local budget is looming large in the pockets of local citizens, especially in the form of higher property taxes. In response, city leaders are scrambling to make up for the lost gaming money.
According to the latest reports, the first phase of the project, which involves the construction of a convention center, should be finished by late 2007. Work will include adding a second floor, a convention center, shops and dining room to the existing one, as well as two parking garages. The casino portion of the original agreement signed in 1965 for the location of the county’s first official gold rush community, hasn’t changed much since then. However, it appears that the town has finally woken up to the fact that attracting the much-needed business to fill the convention center will require an upgrade in its basic infrastructure.
The second phase of the expansion includes upgrading the existing gaming floors, adding new slots machines and table games, and installing lighting and sound systems. Although most of the work to be done will be done by contract workers, some of it will be done by hand. The casino management is still expected to cover the full cost of the project, according to Santa Ana city officials. They will also need to provide financial assistance to the workers if the local workers’ union gets involved.
The second phase two of the Santa Ana resort expansion project includes a wide range of changes, from the food courts to the gift shop. The overhaul of the gift shop may seem odd, given that it is the one place where most of the guests do their spending. However, the shop is going to be relocated to a second onsite location, probably in the casino’s basement. That will give the company a chance to revamp its appearance.
Another component of the second phase two of the construction project includes a casino bar and restaurant. Whether this project is going to be completed by late 2021 or early 2021 isn’t yet known. The planning seems to indicate that the earliest possible completion date is late 2021, but that may be a change for nothing. Some casino owners in Las Vegas and some in Orange County have expressed an interest in opening such an establishment as early as late 2021, but such ideas are not a reliable guide to future activity. If something is planned for the same time, it is usually a bad idea.
Other large casino projects in southern California include the proposed development of a new resort in North Hollywood. There, plans are now on the table for a large hotel and multiple casino buildings. However, the design details for these projects remain highly classified, even as the hotel and other buildings are being designed and built. In fact, the first two phases of the project, which covered construction details and scheduling, are now behind schedule and behind the goal. No construction on the new resort has started yet, and there is no indication when construction on the remaining facilities will begin.
The third phase of the project is the development of the new San Manuel casino and hotel. Construction on the hotel and related structures is now complete, and the interior design phase is underway. Although no firm completion date has been set, progress is being made on all fronts. The casino and its related shops should be operational by late spring or early summer. It is estimated that the shopping center will be operational at least four months later, and possibly six months later, though that could change.