As the Soboba Casino Resort nears completion, a select few community members toured the facility on Dec. 21 and were thoroughly fascinated with what they saw.


"This is more than I was expecting – it’s fantastic," Riverside County Sheriff-Elect Chad Bianco said.


"This will be a sweet dream come true to the San Jacinto Valley, too, as it is creating hundreds, perhaps even thousands of jobs," said Lakshman Koka, chairman of the Hemet San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce.


Soboba Tribal Council Chairman Scott Cozart and Vice Chairman Isaiah Vivanco plus Tribal Administrator Michael Castello and Soboba Casino’s Assistant General Manager Jason Cozart hosted the tour with Vice Chairman Vivanco guiding the group through every detail of what’s to come.


A rich decorative finish was used to accent custom textures and surfaces present throughout the facility.

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The Soboba Casino Resort is continuing to progress as level six of the hotel adds headboards and bed frames to its rooms and the back-of-house operations is accepting regular deliveries of furniture, fixtures and equipment.


Irrigation is done and landscaping has begun in the parking lot area and around the pool. Asphalt has been completed on some of the land and grading is being done to finish the last two sections. Finishing work is ongoing with millwork and flooring still being worked on.


Concrete and tiling around the pool is being done and an "owners' punch walk" takes place this week. That will lead to a final inspection and any corrections for finishes that need to be resolved.


Lifestyles Landscaping have installed quite a few palm trees and, along with other trees and plants now that the sprinklers have been installed and are working great.


Inside the replacement casino, the look of natural wood and bark treatments throughout lends itself to a rustic feel.

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Southern California Edison recently completed the task of providing permanent power to the Soboba Replacement Casino and Resort Project in San Jacinto. This marks yet another milestone reached as development continues to move forward with finishes on the exterior and the interior.


"This allows us to start testing and continue our systems commissioning process," said Tom Groenendal, Senior Superintendent for C.W. Driver, general contractors for the project. "We need electrical in place before we can test the air handler units, fire alarm systems and make sure all building systems operate as intended."


It also will allow for areas that are already primed and painted to undergo the pre-punch and final painting under permanent lighting.


Approximately 400 trades people are moving through the phases – some simultaneously and some in succession.


"We always have a trade chasing another trade; for instance, the painters will follow the drywall installers," explained superintendent Zach Garcia. "We also work from the top down for cleanliness and further efficiency."

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Scaffolding is starting to come down as each section of the Soboba Casino Resort hotel’s exterior gets a final coat of paint and the interior work is well under way.


"We are putting up drywall, painting and putting down flooring in some areas," said Tom Groenendal, Senior Superintendent for C.W. Driver, general contractors for the project. "Most of the overhead MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) has been done which allows us to start on the acoustical ceiling installation."


In many back-of-the-house areas – which will contain support systems for all aspects of the resort – the T-bar is in place and ready for acoustical ceiling tiles to be added. Millwork (cases and cabinets) are starting to arrive and soon more equipment will be delivered. Coolers for food and beverage storage are in place and food service equipment is coming in. The kitchen areas have epoxy flooring installed and stainless steel has been added to the walls.


Groenendal explained that the work is being done in phases and in areas. Multiple floors and areas are being worked on at the same time. With an average of 450 to 500 workers on the job, each is taking on a particular specialty.


"Everybody is doing their part and working together," he said. "We have a good team of subcontractors."

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Biltmore Buff, Natural Tan, Portobello and Pottery Urn are the colors being added to the exterior walls of the Soboba replacement casino and hotel resort project in San Jacinto. Before the finish coat can be added, several layers of material must be put on to ensure a perfectly insulated and stable surface. The EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) is a synthetic stucco siding that provides walls with an insulated, water-resistant, finished surface in an integrated composite material system.


There is currently a gradient effect as the exterior gets completed with one end showing final color, the middle section primed and the next area with blue waterproof material with white foam insulation for protection against the elements. Jose Mireles, one of the assistant superintendents on the construction crew, said the area is in the finishing stages and should be completed by the end of May.


Andrew Hansen and Kevin Hokanson are with the project's lead contractor C.W. Driver. They explained that once the exterior walls have been finished, windows will begin to be installed.


Another hefty task will be mounting 20 Air Handler Units onto the roofs. The units range in size from 10- to 35-feet long, weigh between 7,000 and 43,000 pounds each and can supply up to 40,000 cubic feet of air per minute, each.


"The units serving the casino process 100 percent outside air to maximize ventilation and air quality for the casino environment," Hokanson said. "The casino units have an energy recovery system as well, leading to a lessened impact on the environment and better overall operating efficiency."

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The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians replacement casino and resort project is starting to show off its design as framing is almost complete and preparation for roofing is taking place.


"Concrete work is 100 percent done and structural steel installation is 100 percent done," said Tom Groenendal, Senior Superintendent for C.W. Driver. "The majority of the framing is done and we will start the roofing soon."


He said each of those events are milestones in any construction project and he is glad to see good progress being made. It will take two months or less to complete all the roofing, which is made from thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO). These single-ply roofing membranes are among the fastest growing commercial roofing products and have gained broad industry acceptance for their many performance and installation advantages. As demand increases for heat-reflective and energy-efficient roofing systems, TPO single-ply roofing membranes continue to provide exceptional resistance to ultraviolet, ozone and chemical exposure.


Very visible from outside is the gold-colored DensGlass sheathing that has been installed to almost all outer walls of the project. This fiberglass mat gypsum sheathing has an exemplary track record that spans more than 30 years. It is a preferred substrate due to its ability to protect a structure against moisture damage during and after construction.


The project's work crew has grown to about 300 members and will double in the next month or so as the inner workings of the casino resort project start being installed.


"We are doing really good on the construction side," Groenendal said. "The Tribe is very attentive to taking care of any needs and the community has been very supportive."


There are three areas of construction concentration: casino, hotel and back-of-house operations. Each call for a distinct set of specifications and has its own dedicated crew of experts. Mold-resistant drywall is being added from the top down in some areas while fireproof material is being sprayed onto beams in other areas.


Building engineer Mike Wittmer, who primarily works at the back-of-house project area, said third-party inspectors are on site every day checking on each phase of operation to be sure everything is done per code and per specifications.


Along with the replacement casino and hotel, there will be three meeting rooms and a large banquet/conference room that can be converted into four conference break-out rooms, a food court, multiple indoor and outdoor eating and seating areas, a center bar and a cabaret with an additional bar, entertainment area, warehouse, supporting back-of-house offices and conference rooms. Guests will have a variety of opportunities to gather and enjoy the beautiful views of the San Jacinto Mountains to the north and the Soboba Springs Country Club golf course to the south.


With the final "bones" being put in place, construction on the Soboba Casino replacement project is moving inward. Along with the final touches on the steel framing, workers have also been installing all the utility "guts" so the infrastructure is solid.


Conduit and power sources are being installed underground with connections to upper levels being built. The frame of the resort’s six-story hotel is evident at the southeast corner of the site.


"Tom (Groenendal of CW Driver) is working from above, below and both sides all at once," said Arif Siddique, President and Managing Member of Sicon, LLC. "The grading is nearly completed and the location for the 8,300 sq.ft. pool has been finalized."


The pool area, which includes a grassy area for events, will have a transparent barrier separating it from the golf course to offer a spectacular view for guests.


Soboba Casino General Manager Scott Sirois, an avid golfer, said one of the primary amenities he is looking forward to is the addition of a Signature Island green on the redesigned golf course. The course has been designed by Cary Bickler, the renowned golf course architect who did the original redesign when the Tribe acquired the golf course. The new island green will be the centerpiece of view enhancement from the replacement casino.

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The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians replacement casino and resort project has moved to the next level by installing 5,500 tons of structural steel that will allow the construction to move upwards.


Tom Groenendal, Senior Superintendent for C.W. Driver, said the replacement casino will use 3,900 tons of the product and the hotel will take the other 1,600 tons.


"The structural steel acts as the backbone for the entire project; it supports all the other elements," he said. "It will take roughly nine to 12 weeks to get all the steel in place."


Oklahoma City-based W&W/AFCO Steel was chosen after the scope of work was sent out for proposals from five companies.


"W&W was selected as a best value partner and presented ‘outside the box' ideas to meet the schedule," Groenendal said. "Before the steel could be placed we had to complete mass excavation and grading (leveling of the site), and have rebar and concrete in place for the foundations and walls that support the steel."


The American-made steel is being fabricated in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas and Arizona. Delivery of beams began on Sept. 11.


"We don't purchase any foreign material for our projects, nor are we ever intending to do so," said Tim Hunter, W&W/AFCO Steel Vice President/Project Manager.

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For an idea of what’s to come, have a look at the latest design video for the new casino replacement facility.



The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians is pleased with the progress being made to complete its replacement casino for an expected grand opening in the fall of 2018. The project includes a 200-room hotel, pool, two restaurants, a food court and sports bar, a 15,000-sq. ft. banquet and meeting facility for conferences and special events. The casino itself will have 2,000 slot machines and 28 table games. The venue will be located north of Lake Park Drive, adjacent to The Country Club at Soboba Springs.


Since the groundbreaking on Feb. 28, which was attended by tribal council members from other Southern California tribes, Hemet and San Jacinto city council members and school district representatives and Riverside County law enforcement personnel, Soboba has worked closely with local companies to develop the utility and transportation infrastructure for the project. The Tribe would like to thank Eastern Municipal Water District, the city of San Jacinto, Southern California Edison and SoCal Gas for their continued support as this exciting new project moves forward with its promise for economic growth and shared prosperity for the entire community.


The venture is expected to create 300 to 500 permanent new jobs at the casino/resort, as well as drive economic development for the entire San Jacinto Valley, which includes the work of thousands of local contractors working on this project for the next 18-plus months. In conjunction with the casino replacement project, Soboba is planning to develop a fire station, office building and cultural center on the south side of Lake Park Drive, as well as a new home for the Soboba Indian Health Clinic currently located on the Ramona Expressway, west of the San Jacinto River.


Soboba has retained the internationally renowned Friedmutter Group to serve as the architects and engineers for the project's design. Friedmutter specializes exclusively in hospitality, gaming and entertainment projects of all sizes around the world. The general contractor for the project is C.W. Driver Companies, the oldest active licensed builder headquartered in Southern California.


One day a week, 300 cement mixers are constantly traveling back and forth to the site to deliver cement needed for the foundation of the basement that will be used for the facility's back-of-house operations. To date, 5,000 cubic yards of concrete has been poured. Recently, 2,000 tons of rebar was delivered to the site and tied to support the concrete walls.

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It has been a long time coming but the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians finally had the opportunity to thank everyone who has patiently supported its endeavors to secure the Horseshoe Property with the intention of building a replacement casino and resort.


February 28's invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony brought together Soboba tribal members, administrators, city and corporate officials and hundreds of guests to witness this milestone in the history of the tribe.


Tribal Administrator Michael Castello welcomed the crowd and introduced Steven Estrada, Chairman of the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians to provide a prayer in his native language. Translation for part of it was: "it is a good day to bring blessings upon this land and give the Soboba people strength as they proceed."


Estrada was then joined by Joe Ontiveros, director of Soboba's Cultural Resources Department, and other bird singers to share songs with the crowd that gathered at the future site of the complex near Lake Park Drive and Soboba Road in San Jacinto.


Tribal Council Chairman Scott Cozart spoke about the great mentors that helped get the tribe to this day, starting with bingo halls that he helped vote for back in the day. Elders such as Marian Chacon and Benny Helms were cited as always supporting what was best for all tribal members


He said the 1987 Cabazon Decision allowed for Vegas-style gaming to be conducted on the reservation and the rest is history.


"How far we have come since then is amazing," Cozart said.


Tribal Council Vice Chair Isaiah Vivanco, treasurer Kelli Hurtado and Sergeant at Arms Rose Salgado were also at the celebration to recognize all the tribal elders and members.


"This is for you and our future," Vivanco said.


He introduced dignitaries including members of the Soboba Foundation, tribal council members from other Southern California tribes, school board members, Hemet and San Jacinto unified school district representatives, local law enforcement and Hemet and San Jacinto city council members.

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The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians continues to work closely with Eastern Municipal Water District, Southern California Edison and SoCal Gas as the Casino Replacement Facility's Utility Infrastructure plans begin to take shape. The Tribe would like to thank these companies and the cities of Hemet and San Jacinto for their continued support as this exciting new project moves forward with its promise of economic growth and shared prosperity for all communities.



The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians is pleased to unveil a first look rendering of its exciting new Replacement Casino Resort. The following short video is provided to offer a visual approximation of design concept only and in no way represents an actual depiction of the project.



Soboba has reached an agreement with Friedmutter Group to be the Architect/Engineering company for the design of the Tribe's Replacement Casino. The Soboba Tribal Council is working closely with Friedmutter Group on the replacement casino, which will include a 200-room hotel, 2000 slot machines, 24 table games, spa/fitness center, 15,000 square foot Mutli-Purpose Room for conferences and special events, 6 food outlets, pool and sports bar.

The Tribe's goal is to break ground in November of 2016. The project is expected to create approximately 700-800 new jobs at the Casino/Resort as well as drive economic development not only for Soboba but for the entire San Jacinto Valley.


Preliminary geotechnical and environmental/biological studies as required and mandated by the FEIS (Federal Environmental Impact Study) are being conducted by specialty consultants.

These studies are inclusive of the mitigation of endangered species and geotechnical due diligence studies that are required for the design of the facility.

Check back soon for updates on all elements of this project, including design and construction activities.

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