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One of those holdouts is the Tesconi family, which owns 2.5 acres on Wilfred Avenue, one block from the casino. As disclosed by the Press Democrat, this is the family of Tim Tesconi, a longtime Press Democrat reporter, who is married to current Press Democrat executive editor Catherine Barnett. Their sons have a financial interest in the property.
The Press Democrat itself has a stake in the area as well. The paper's new owners, Sonoma Media Investments LLC, own a large property on Redwood Drive, roughly 850 feet from what could be a back entrance to the casino should a Labath Avenue connector be built across Business Park Drive. The property contains the paper's printing press.
Sonoma Media Investments' Darius Anderson is a developer with an eye for land values; he has also worked as a lobbyist for Station Casinos. In purchasing the Press Democrat, Anderson acquired a valuable piece of property in close proximity to his former clients.
GOING ALL IN
Taking a gamble on a new concept, local organic food company Amy's Kitchen is opening a "healthy fast food" restaurant on the corner of Redwood Drive and Wilfred Avenue. (McDonald's is opening a restaurant in the same block.) The federal agreement for the tribe's land includes four restaurants and an onsite 200-room hotel, which will be constructed by the tribe at a later date.
Where will all the casino's employees live? Down the road, on Labath Avenue, A.G. Spanos Companies is proposing a 244-unit apartment complex on 10 acres at the former Crusher Stadium site, which has been vacant since the stadium was demolished in 2005. The project has already been approved by the planning commission. The company owns two other apartment complexes in Rohnert Park.
The cards weren't always falling in Station Casinos' favor. The company owns 17 casino properties, mostly in Las Vegas, the largest having a 156,000-square-foot gaming floor. It is also part of four tribal casino development or management agreements in California and Michigan. Station Casinos filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, putting the project in doubt. But the company restructured in 2011, securing $850 million last year to allow the Rohnert Park project to begin construction.
A lawsuit is also in the works by Stop the Casino 101, a group led by two residents who live near the site, Chip Worthington and Marilee Montgomery. The suit challenges the legal status of the tribe's reservation. The organization has previously made claims from challenging the ancestry of tribal leader Greg Sarris' to the validity of the project's environmental impact report.
The suit has an Aug. 2 trial date in Sonoma County Superior Court. By that time, however, the casino may be nearly complete.
PROPERTY ACQUISITIONS BY STATION CASINOS
170 Wilfred Ave., April 2009, $1.13 million; 1 acre
150 Wilfred Ave., May 2008, $562,000; 0.5 acres
4646 Labath Ave., June 2008, $823,750; 0.25 acres
152 Wilfred Ave., February 2008, $1.32 million; 1.5 acres
186 Wilfred Ave., August 2007, $397,000; 0.5 acres
148 Wilfred Ave., August 2007, $826,139; 1 acre
4630 Labath Ave., August 2007, $209,000; 0.25 acres
0 Labath Ave., June 2007, $4.1 million; 5 acres
104 Wilfred Ave., February 2005, $4.1 million; 5 acres
4647 Dowdell Ave., 2005, $1.2 million; 1.5 acres
0 Dowdell Ave., 2005, $2.81 million; 3.5 acres
Source: Sonoma County Assessor's Office