Shiprock Hotel Project Hits Snag
Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) has spent years planning to build a hotel and restaurant in Shiprock, N.M. – but all that preparation never included a master plan for the construction project.
Now NNGE officials have told the Navajo Nation Council’s Budget & Finance Committee that they are not ready to proceed with the project.
The project had been approved as part of the tribe’s Permanent Trust Fund five-year plan for expenditures on waterlines, agriculture and economic development projects.
The NNGE was slotted to get nearly $9 million for the project – though the price tag to complete it was an estimated $15 million.
Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Seth Damon was incredulous that NNGE did not even have a master plan for construction for the project. During a February meeting, Damon told NNGE officials to produce a master plan so the committee could determine if the hotel and restaurant project was feasible.
The project appears untenable at this point and a recent study backs up that view.
The study offered several scenarios for the project, but in the best-case scenario the project looks like a loser.
The proposed restaurant and hotel would bring in about $1.9 million in revenue annually according to the best-case scenario. That means the project would lose about $400,000 a year in operating costs.
If the hotel were to be built without the restaurant, the study’s best-case scenario showed the hotel bringing in roughly $1.1 million a year – resulting in a loss of $34,000 a year in operating costs.
The study offered mid-case and worst-case scenarios too, but the picture only grew bleaker for the project.
If the project isn’t feasible it would be hard to make a decision to approve it, Navajo Nation Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie said. Tsosie is also a member of the Budget & Finance Committee.
Despite the questions surrounding the project, members of the Budget & Finance Committee, NNGE, and the Office of the President and Vice President are scheduled to meet today (March 20) to discuss the project.