By Mike McLean
Spokane Journal of Business
The Kalispel Tribe plans to expand its Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights with a new hotel building, adding 190 more rooms.
The tribe expects to break ground on the new project in March and complete it in early 2023. The resort and casino is about 140 miles north of the Tri-Cities, just west of Spokane.
“While 2020 has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry, we continue to weather the storm and look toward the future,” said Northern Quest General Manager Nick Pierre in a press release announcing the project. “For the past several years, we’ve been running at consistently high occupancy in our hotel. And while meetings and events business has taken a big hit in the past eight months, we are confident things will bounce back in the coming months and years, returning us to the kind of demand we were seeing in 2019 and early 2020.”
The hotel expansion will be just west of the current hotel and will bring the overall capacity to more than 440 guest rooms. The project will include five connected buildings inspired by the concept of a Native American fish weir.
The new guest rooms are expected to be similar in style to the current Northern Quest hotel rooms, and a skywalk will connect the northwest side of the current hotel to the new addition.
The expansion project is expected to result in more than 150 permanent new jobs at Northern Quest.
The design-build team for the project will consist of Lydig Construction Inc. of Spokane Valley; Integrus Architecture PS of Spokane; and Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects Inc. of Seattle.
Engineering partners on the team include MW Consulting Engineers PS of Spokane; and the Spokane offices of Coffman Engineers Inc. and Parametrix Inc.
The Society, a Portland, Oregon-based hospitality interior design company, also is involved.
The Kalispel Tribe opened Northern Quest Casino in 2000 and broke ground on the original Northern Quest hotel in 2008. While the tribe’s announcement about the project didn’t disclose the value of planned expansion, the cost of the original 250-room hotel and casino expansion was estimated to exceed $200 million.
At the time, Kent Caputo, then-chief operating officer for the Kalispel Tribal Economic Development Authority, told the Spokane Journal of Business the total costs of expanding the casino ultimately could top $500 million.
Recent projects there include a nearly $20 million, 55,000-square foot expansion on the south side of the casino, and a $7 million recreational vehicle park south of the casino.
The tribe’s master plan includes the potential addition of a more than 30,000-square-foot conference center.
Pierre said of the upcoming expansion, “Back in March, the Covid-19 global pandemic forced us to delay our announcement of this project, but as we close out 2020, we are excited to move forward.”
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