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  • High rollers

    Indian tribe buys, leases properties for Medford casino site
  • The Coquille Indian Tribe has acquired Roxy Ann Lanes and the former Kim's Restaurant in hopes of opening a Medford casino along South Pacific Highway. The tribe also has agreed to lease Bear Creek Golf Course, adjacent to the two buildings.
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  • The Coquille Indian Tribe has acquired Roxy Ann Lanes and the former Kim's Restaurant in hopes of opening a Medford casino along South Pacific Highway. The tribe also has agreed to lease Bear Creek Golf Course, adjacent to the two buildings.
    Chief Kenneth Tanner said Thursday the Coquilles, based in North Bend, will officially announce their intentions today and are preparing to put the property into a U.S. government-held trust that would pave the way to reservation status.
    Once that process is completed, the Coquille Tribe would have jurisdiction, just as it does over the property where the Mill Casino stands on the North Bend waterfront.
    "In this particular case," Tanner said, "We wanted to keep it as quiet as possible and I think we were successful in doing that."
    Quiet enough that neither of the sellers apparently knew who was buying their property.
    The tribe closed the deals through intermediaries last month, first securing Roxy Ann Lanes for $1.6 million from John and Lela Larkin and then Kim's for $675,000 from the founders' heirs.
    The two properties total about 5 acres and the golf course is just more than 18 acres.
    John Larkin insisted Thursday that he knew nothing of the deal, even though Jackson County property records show both he and his wife signed off on the warranty deed Aug. 2.
    "We just got through re-striping the parking lot and buying new pins," Larkin said. "Why would I be selling?"
    But Tanner said it was a done deal.
    "Current management have agreed to manage the bowling alley," he said. "Nothing will really change with that property for the very least one year and probably two more."
    Tanner said the Coquille Tribe would buy the two properties without assistance or loans.
    "Over time, we save revenue up," he said. "We always place half of our revenue into a permanent fund. We've been thrifty in how we handle our finances."
    It will take a year or more to get the property put into trust, said Tanner, a former Jackson County mental health worker who has lived in Ashland since 1978. Tanner was first elected chief of the tribe in 1992 and has been re-elected every three years since.
    Following the federal restoration act of 1989, the Coquille tribal service area has included Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson and Lane counties. There are 1,000 tribe members, with most living in Coos County. Jackson County has the next-largest concentration with approximately 100 members.
    Tanner said the tribe's decision to open a Medford casino makes sense financially.
    "While the businesses we have are on the profitable side, they are barely meeting the needs of our people and we have to do something to sustain ourselves in the future," Tanner said. "We need to relocate some of our business here to meet the education, health and elder-care needs and for our general welfare."
    Tanner said the Medford site was attractive because it has "good location near the (Interstate 5) off-ramps, with good access."
    "We want to keep dollars in the local community," he said. "Commercial casinos' money goes to outside investors; we want to keep it inside the community."
    The chief said he has been in Washington, D.C., this week, meeting with Interior Department employees and "politicians" from Oregon.
    "There are two tracks to putting land in trust, legislative and administrative, and we do the latter," he said. "We've been informing and preparing them and we expect to deliver the application for trust within the next two weeks or so. Before that, we want to make sure we inform as many of the key people, including tribal. "
    The tribe's intermediaries kept their cards close to the vest as they purchased the local property.
    "They wouldn't tell us a thing as far as what they planned or who they were," said Tom Fischer of Coldwell Banker Commercial NW, who represented the Kim's owners. "They had the ability to assign a contract to somebody else and did that right before closing when they assigned it to an LLC (limited liability company)."
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