NORTH BEND — The Coquille Tribe has bought and leased property in Medford with the aim of developing a casino, tribal officials confirmed Friday.
The tribe has purchased two properties on South Pacific Highway — Roxy Ann Lanes, for $1.6 million, and the former Kim’s Restaurant, for $675,000 — and has leased Bear Creek Golf Course, which adjoins the properties.
Tribal Council member Toni Ann Brend said the tribe paid cash for the property and is preparing to ask the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to put it into a U.S. government-held trust — the first step toward converting it into reservation land.
The golf course, which is only leased, would not be included in that process.
That process will run concurrently with the process of getting permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs for a casino, which tribal attorney Brett Kenney said would take “some time.”
An application for a tribal casino must be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a process that involves environmental surveys and the soliciting of opinions from local governments and the public.
The final decision rests with the BIA, Kenney said. But, he added, “local governments have an opportunity to participate, and we’re looking forward to engaging with local governments to address what their concerns are and show them we can be as wonderful a community partner as we are in North Bend.”
Jackson County Commissioner John Rachor told the Medford Mail Tribune Thursday that, although he’d wait for public sentiment to give him direction, he welcomed the jobs a casino could create.
Brend said the tribe plans to raze Kim’s, which has been closed for several years, build a parking lot on that site, and convert the bowling alley into a Class II casino.
Class II gaming includes games like bingo. Brend said the casino would include machines “that don’t look too different” from the slot machines found at the tribe’s existing Class III casino, The Mill.
Card rooms where players play against each other instead of the house are allowed in Class II facilities, but Brend said she wasn’t sure whether a card room was planned.
Southern Oregon already has a large Class III casino resort at Canyonville (Seven Feathers, owned by the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians) and a small Class III casino at Chiloquin (Kla-Mo-Ya, owned by the Klamath Tribes).
Mill will remain
Brend emphasized that the tribe remains committed to its Coos County businesses.
“We’re not abandoning the casino in North Bend,” she said.
“Our offices will remain here, and we’ll be expanding our resources for our members here.”
The tribe’s other businesses include The Mill Casino-Hotel-RV Park in North Bend; Heritage Place, an assisted living center in Bandon; and ORCA Communications, a fiber-optic communications provider.
The tribe has 1,000 members, most of whom live in Coos County. About 100 live in Jackson County.