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Elk Grove Approves Casino/Mall Plan As Faceless Opposition Launches Petition

  

The Elk Grove City Council voted to scrap half of the Elk Grove Mall project in order to get construction on the other half started sooner.

The council voted this week to approve sale of half of the project's land by the developer, the Howard Hughes Corporation, to the Wilton Rancheria Indian tribe, which would build a casino.

Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis says positive interest in the project has increased since prospective tenants learned a casino could be moving in next door. But, unknown opponents of the project are gathering signatures to put it before voters.  

"I believe the talk of this casino and entertainment center adjacent to it, connecting to it has helped them significantly get leases signed, which is why we're so concerned about this signature drive because the net effect will really be that it slows down our mall and I think our residents have waited long enough."

A person or group that has not publicly identified themselves has paid signature gatherers to circulate petitions to put a measure on the ballot. It would block the project if approved.

Davis says a competitor's lawsuit and a slowly-growing economy have prevented the Hughes corporation from moving quickly.

"We've been pushing them to move forward and they're actively signing leases. They want to get to a 55 percent threshold in signed leases before they pull the trigger and restart construction."

Davis says the developer is about 10 percent shy of that goal.

In order for the casino to go forward, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs would have to put the land in trust and then Governor Jerry Brown's office would have to negotiate a compact with the tribe.