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Tulalip Tribes moving forward while working with neighbors

 - TOM CORRIGAN The Marysville Globe
— image credit: TOM CORRIGAN The Marysville Globe

TULALIP The new Tulalip Hotel is probably the most visible project Tulalip Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon talked about last week.

But judging from the talk Sheldon gave the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce, the next year or so is going to be a busy time for the Tulalip people.

Rising up adjacent to the Tulalip Resort Casino, the $130 million Tulalip Hotel is set for a "soft" opening in June. Staffers began taking reservations April 15 and Sheldon said some 400 future visitors already have bookings in the hotel's 370 rooms.

Executive vice-president of hotel operations, Brett Magnan supplied the chamber gathering with numerous other facts about, and glimpses into, the new facility. For example, Magnan said the average cost of a room at the hotel should be in the range of $150 to $190. He said the average cost of a room in Seattle is about $220. Magnan added Tulalip visitors will pay less sales tax on their room than those in Seattle, 10.5 percent as opposed to 16.9 percent.

According to Magnan, those 370 rooms encompass 23 specialty suites. Those suites include a penthouse and, for example, a high-tech room. The latter features, among other amenities, a 70-inch TV and LCD screens that rotate famous artworks.

Overall, Magnan said the new building is aimed squarely at attracting meeting and convention business. With that in mind, the new building includes a 15,000-square- foot ballroom and the same amount of new meeting and reception space. The hotel already has booked its first big convention. While he didn't mention any visitor figures, Magnan described the coming Skate America event as a precursor to the winter Olympic games. The Skate America competition itself is slated for Everett.

In terms of adding to the local economy, the hotel should create about 400 new jobs.

While the hotel received plenty of attention during Sheldon's chamber presentation, the newly re-elected leader of the Tulalip Tribes also talked about a new administration building set to open on the reservation later this year.

Tulalip Tribe spokesman George White said the center essentially sits across Marine Drive from the gymnasium building currently housing many Tribal offices. Set on a hillside, White said the facility will directly overlook Tulalip Bay.

"It's designed to kick off a new level of services," White added regarding the new building, which will bring together Tribal offices from what he said are some 65 current locations.

The $28 million building covers roughly 73,000-square-feet.

According to Sheldon, yet another major project on the Tribe's drawing board is a Tulalip museum scheduled to open in early 2009.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to show who we are," Sheldon said, adding he remembers being in college and looking through history books on the northwest. He added those book contained next to nothing on the Tulalip people.

White said the museum has been dubbed the Hibult Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve. With an address of 6410 23rd Ave. NE, like the new administration center, the museum will sit off Marine Drive.

"You'll get the feel of what it was like a long time ago," Sheldon said. He talked about interactive exhibits and the recreation of a traditional Tribal longhouse.

One final economic project still in the works is completion of the Tulalip business park near Quil Ceda Village.

"We could fill that out today," Sheldon said, but added Tribal officials have decided to be picky about what sorts of tenants they will allow. He hopes development on the reservation will compliment that taking place in Marysville.

"We have good businesses on both sides of I-5," Sheldon said.

In somewhat the same vein, Sheldon specifically talked about growing what he called the cooperative relationship between reservation leaders and Marysville City Hall. While he said the two sides have accomplished much, he also mentioned traffic problems as something the two entities need to attack together.

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