|By Sonia Krishnan, Seattle
TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 12, 2007 - The Muckleshoot Tribe paid $62.5 million to buy the Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie, plus vacant nearby land, according to documents filed this week at the King County Recorder's Office.
The purchase price includes $41.9 million for the lodge and $20.6 million for a vacant parcel of more than 50 acres across the street, records show.
Tribe officials said Thursday that there were no plans to build a casino on the empty lot. For that to happen, the tribe would have to submit an application with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to move the land into federal trust, and the approval process can take years.
"Right now, the focus is on keeping the Salish Lodge & Spa a first-class facility," said Rollin Fatland, a spokesman for the Muckleshoots.
Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson said Thursday that after a recent meeting with the tribe, he didn't think they would be building another casino in the area. The Snoqualmie Tribe, which unsuccessfully bid on the lodge, is building a casino just outside city limits off Interstate 90 that is expected to open next year.
"Our impression was that they are here for investment purposes ... and to get beyond gambling," Larson said.
The lodge was last sold for $13.35 million by Puget Western in 1996 to Gateway Cascades, a holding company for the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association, according to King County records. The company also purchased 28.6 acres of the vacant parcel in 1996 for $500,000, records show.
Gateway Cascades had sought city approval to expand the lodge, and in 2004, the city rezoned the vacant parcel for a 250-room hotel, conference center and 110 homes.
The Salish Lodge, a Northwest landmark, houses 89 guest rooms, four suites and the spa.
Representatives from the Los Angeles association did not return phone calls seeking comment Thursday on why it decided to sell.
The Muckleshoots run one of the most profitable casinos in the state; own the land under Emerald Downs racetrack and a major amphitheater; and recently became investors in the Four Seasons hotel and private residences development in downtown Seattle.
The tribe signed a 20-year management contract with Columbia Hospitality, which specializes in luxury hotel and resort management.
Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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