Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

STEP project inches towards late 2017 opening


November 30, 2017

Paul Delaney

A Nov. 1 photo of the Spokane Tribe's casino project near Airway Heights. The first phase of the Spokane Tribe Economic Project - or STEP - is slated to open soon, although officials are reluctant to provide an exact date at this time.

Just about a year after breaking ground, the Spokane Tribe of Indians' chair, Carol Evans, told the West Plains Chamber of Commerce at its Nov. 15 breakfast meeting that their Spokane Tribe Economic Project - or STEP - will open soon.

"Everything is moving along," Evans said, adding that separate lawsuits filed by the Kalispel Tribe and then the Spokane County Commissioners did not impede construction. "We figured we would prevail anyway," she added.

Despite a long 2016-17 winter where snow was on the ground for 75 consecutive days, the project has not strayed too far from a projected December 2017 opening.

Planned for 145 acres of land bordered by U.S. Highway 2 on the south and Craig Road to the east, STEP will be constructed in segments.

Phase 1A of the project, which is nearing completion, will include an approximately 30,000 -- 40,000 square foot casino featuring 450 slot machines, a dozen table games, restaurant and an outside entertainment venue. It is anticipated to employ 300 people.

"I don't want to say when," Evans said. She had anticipated making an announcement within days of the address to the chamber.

The timeline for full project build-out, which includes a hotel and retail structures, will stretch at least a decade.

"It's coming together, every week it's amazing to look at the new things being done," Evans said.

Another element of the STEP project consists of 160 acres to the north of the casino that borders Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks and is seen a ideal property for possible industrial development.

Evans said that with the ever-shifting nature of brick and mortar retail that the tribe is rethinking original plans for big-box retailers. Instead they have jumped into the big pool of who are courting Amazon as a home for its second headquarters.

In addition to the Airway Heights block of so-called "trust land" -tribal property located off of designated reservation acreage - the Spokane's have 160 acres just south of Chewelah where they operate a casino and convenience store/gas station.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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