Tribe hedging bet in Newcastle center

By Anthony Thornton Published: March 18, 2006
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Chickasaws plan to use space for casino training.

ADA - The Chickasaw Nation is about to enter the commercial real estate world.

The tribal legislature, meeting in Ada, voted Friday to buy the Tri-City Center, a 53-acre shopping center at Interstate 44 and State Highway 37 near Newcastle.

Tribe officials said most of the shopping center's space is needed to train casino employees and store casino equipment. The tribe recently began leasing a 41,000-square-foot former Wal-Mart store at the site for that purpose.

Tribe spokeswoman Robyn Elliott said the facility would be used to train casino workers in areas such as customer service, security surveillance, housekeeping and human resources.

A large building is needed as the tribe prepares to open its Riverwind casino on Interstate 35 south of Norman this summer, Elliott said. That casino will employ 1,500 people. Applications are being accepted at www.cejob search.com.

Other shopping center occupants include an IGA grocery, a Chinese restaurant, a dry cleaning business and a consignment clothing store.

"Those businesses would lease from us," Chickasaw Legislator Mooniene Ogee said.

The sale hasn't been finalized. A law passed by legislators last year makes it illegal for them to disclose the proposed purchase price.

McClain County Assessor Kathy Ladlee lists the property's market value at $1,450,125.

Removing it from the tax rolls, as the tribe plans to do, would cause an estimated property tax loss of $16,165, mostly for Newcastle schools, Ladlee said.


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